Alexander defeats the Persians, Destruction of PompeiiThe Crusades, The Black Death...Salem Witch TrialsWriting the Declaration of Independence, Battle of Lexington...Escape from slavery, Death of President Garfield..Battle of Gettysburg, Death of Lincoln...Custer's Last Stand, The Death of Billy the Kid...San Francisco Earthquake, Sinking of the Titanic...
Death of an air ace, Gas attack...Attack at Pearl Harbor, D-Day...Freeze Frame of HistoryPhotographic Gateways to HistorySounds from the pastFilm Clips from the PastList of ContentsReturn to Home Page

Peary at the North Pole
April 6, 1909
At the turn of the century, explorers regarded the North Pole as the last prize in the Northern Hemisphere. The quest for the Pole turned into an international race with teams from Britain, Norway and America vying for the distinction of reaching it first. Robert Peary, a Commander in the U.S. Navy, made his first attempt to reach the Pole in 1893. Two more expeditions followed (1898-1902 and 1905-1906). Both fell short of the mark, but the efforts propelled Peary to the distinction of America's foremost Arctic explorer.

The expedition of 1908-09 was to be his last try. On September 5, 1909 Peary emerged from the Arctic wilderness and announced to the world that he had reached the North Pole on April 6. A simultaneous announcement by Frederick A. Cook (also an American) that he had achieved the Pole a year earlier (April 21, 1908) diminished Peary's triumph. Cook's claim was soon rejected, he did not have sufficient proof and his whereabouts on the Arctic ice became suspect. He soon fled the scene. In 1922, Cook landed in Leavenworth Penitentiary for mail fraud.

Peary's claim also ran into trouble. Like Cook, his evidence was thin and he proved uncooperative in revealing his logbooks and diaries that may have supported his assertion. An Act of Congress in 1911 recognized Peary's claim, but this was a political accolade rather than an endorsement by the scientific community that remained divided in its judgement. Peary died in 1920. The dispute over his claim of being the first to reach the North Pole continues today.

References: Herbert, Wally, The Noose of Laurels, Robert E. Peary and the Race to the North Pole (1989); Rawlins, Dennis, Peary at the North Pole, Fact or Fiction? (1973)

Ancient World | Middle Ages/Renassiance | 17th Century | 18th Century | 19th Century | Civil War | Old West | 20th Century
World War One | World War Two | Photo of the Week | SnapShots | Voices | History in Motion | Index | Home
Copyright © Ibis Communications, Inc.