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efore 1909, the North Pole was still an unexplored zone that the world had seen as the most mysterious part of the earth which no one dared to explore because of the extreme weather conditions and the difficult as well as dangerous journey. Being at the top of our globe, the North Pole was and still is considered the top of the world. Due to the stable climate change from 110 years ago and the lack of technological advancements, the North Pole was a true challenge for any experienced explorer.

Robert Peary

American Explorer Robert Peary (Source: Ohio State University Library)

Robert Peary was a US Marine who started his career as an assistant chief on an expedition to Nicaragua. Shortly thereafter, he became obsessed with the goal of reaching for the first time in the history of mankind the North Pole. Given his vast experience as an explorer, he knew that this would be the challenge of a lifetime. There have been tales of foreign explorers from different parts of the world attempting to reach the North Pole but dying trying.

In order to prepare for this daring expedition, Peary led, between 1886 and 1897, five expeditions to Greenland and Canada. He embarked on the expedition to the North Pole in New York on July 16, 1905, aboard the Roosevelt ship. His mission was supported by US President Theodore Roosevelt, and his ship was considered ultra-modern at that time because it had the ability to cut ice in its path. However, the North’s ice still prevented the explorer from reaching his goal.

Heading into the unknown

Shortly afterward, Robert Peary embarked on a new expedition to the North Pole, also aboard the Roosevelt, this time with a team of 24 men, but also 19 sleds and 133 dogs. He was also accompanied by his assistant Matthew Henson who has assisted him in many previous explorations so you could say he was his right hand. Upon arriving at the outskirts of the North Pole, the expedition team was met by four Eskimoes on the 6th of April, 1909.

Through Frost and Ice to the center of the North Pole, a sled pulled by dogs carrying supplies in 1909 (Source: Ohio State University Library)

The expedition took over 30 freezing days during which the team gathered information about different animal species that were sighted and the culture presented by the Eskimoes who were very few in number but specialized in hunting the arctic wildlife. Some historians argue that if it wasn’t for the help offered by the Eskimoes, Robert and his team would have never reached the center of the North Pole.

Upon reaching the center of the North Pole, Robert has taken upon himself to use all the energy left in himself to plant a flag representing the United States of America in significant to conquering the challenge that the North Pole has offered them. Robert Peary was seen as a hero once he arrived back in the United States for his colossal achievement and for putting the name of America on another page of history.

Robert Peary and his team reaching the center of North Pole in 1909 (Source: Ohio State University Library)

An unexpected turn of events

When he returned to the United States, he discovered that a former shipping partner, Frederick A. Cook, had claimed he had discovered the North Pole a year earlier. However, Cook could not provide any evidence in this regard, and his statements were not taken into account.

Although Peary was a Rear Admiral in the US Army and had been awarded 22 medals, he was forced to testify before Congress about his claim that he would have reached the North Pole. The truth remains to this day surrounded by mystery, critics saying that the various glaciers that they encountered during the expedition might have made him miscalculate his position. At the same time, none of the five men who had been with him at that time had the necessary knowledge to validate the position they were in on April 6, 1909.

Peary has been harshly criticized over the years because of his demeanor. After bringing five Eskimos with him from the expedition, he offered the people of his main sponsor, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, for them to be presented to the public.

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