Alaska became the 49th state to enter the Union on Jan 3, 1959. Later that year, Hawaii would become the 50th state on August 21. Both states were signed into statehood by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Alaska was the first of the two to enter statehood because Congress convinced Eisenhower that its natural oil reserves would be beneficial to the American economy. Originally, Eisenhower wanted Hawaii to enter the Union first because he thought statehood would interfere with his administration's ability to create and control defensive installations so close to Soviet Russia. However, Congress assured him such interferences would not occur and Eisenhower relented his stance, signing Alaska into the Union several months before Hawaii.