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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.


Since the late 20th century, Peary's account of reaching the pole has encountered renewed scrutiny.

Which man, if either, was first to reach the North Pole is subject to popular controversy in media. But, professionals widely accept that Cook's claims have been almost unanimously rejected for nearly a century.

VASSdesign related Art

' Commander Robert E. Peary '
  by VASSdesign

Commander Robert E. Peary Created/Published: New York : The Metropolitan Printing Co. Order n. 11 Date issued: 1910

Race to the Pole Small.jpg


  by VASSdesign

This design was created as an original design concept following the theme of a vintage ad. The characters are completely digitally hand drawn.

cook small.jpg
Peary Small.jpg
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