Mr. FESS. Mr. Speaker, I would not take notice of the pretensions of Dr.
Cook were they limited to a mere newspaper publicity campaign, but in view of
the fact that some material in the interests of his North Pole contentions has
been incorporated in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD during the present session, much
of which is misleading and some with no basis of fact, and which he appears to
be using as an advertisement in furtherance of his activities upon the
vaudeville stage by attempting to give the impression to those unfamiliar with
our procedure here that his polar claims are under investigation by Congress and
receiving its serious consideration. I as a member of the Education Committee
before which his representative appeared, propose, as a guide to the unwary and
in the interests of historical accuracy, briefly to outline what has occurred
that there may hereafter be no warrant, without gross perversions of fact, to
continue to use Congress as an accessory to his advertising propaganda, and as a
result of which he has already succeeded in misleading some most excellent
people, who, without themselves investigating the facts have been impressed by
his plausibility. And I shall also at the same time—as we are all so prone to
forget—incorporate a few of the salient facts with which we were once all
familiar, but which may have escaped the memory of some.
American History Must not be Perverted.
And in what I am about to say I shall voice my sentiments not only as a Member
of Congress, but in the spirit of an educator—a college president, a teacher of
history, and as a citizen jealous -that there should be no perversions of our
American history. I may add that while Dr. Cook has called upon me, and both he
and his representative have pressed his claims upon my attention, it has never
been my privilege to meet Admiral Peary. Therefore I do not speak from the
standpoint of personal friendship for the discoverer of the North Pole, but I
honor him for the luster he has shed upon the American Nation by his
achievements, and trust that a clear statement of the case will aid in
preventing further misrepresentations (such as the latest to the effect that the
Congress is investigating Dr. Cook's claims) and may lead those who are not
experts in Arctic matters and not familiar with the facts to remember that it is
well to be upon their guard lest, as has recently been said, “the skill and
acumen of a practiced faker" be at work—qualities that are subtle and not always
Some of Dr. Cook's Recent Activities With Respect to Congress.
As to Dr. Cook's repeated efforts to get more notoriety by keeping a North Pole
lobby at work in Washington, it will be recalled he procured a joint resolution
in his behalf, to be introduced in the Senate last spring (April, 1914). It was
referred to the Library Committee, and a subcommittee, which was named to look
into the matter, flatly refused to give aid or encouragement to the
investigation of any such subject, and there the matter ended in the Senate.
The American Press Saw the Humor of the Situation.
While editorial discussion is usually timed in seriousness, in this case there
were numerous humorous newspaper comments upon the subject when the resolution
was introduced, as Members of Congress may remember, such as—
Maybe he also believes there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Let us not be wastefully, ridiculously excessive. Why spend $300 for a medal for
Dr. Cook when he'd fee1 just as happy and look a lot more natural with a 50-cent
wreath of flowers around his neck? (New York American.)
If Dr. Cook gets that medal from Congress he may decide to send it to Copenhagen
as a mark of gratitude for the free dinners he received there. (Cleveland Plain
Gold or leather? (Des Moines Capital.)
If Doc Cook gets from Congress that medal for discovering the North Pole, he may
come back and want one for scaling Mount McKinley. (Detroit Free Press.)
Why not strike off 98,781,323 duplicates and give everybody else in the country
one, too? (Boston Transcript.)
Vaudeville, having received the doctor cordially, why not Congress?
“Doc” always has some new scheme for getting before the public just about the
time people have forgotten him. (Johnstown Leader.)
Surely some recognition should be given the most stupendous fraud of the age.
I would not repeat these quotations were they not called out by the character of
the vaudeville performances of the subject of their comment.
Not satisfied with the Senate's ignoring of his resolution, Dr. Cook had another
one introduced in the House shortly after the Seriate Library Committee had
dropped consideration of the one before it, and the House resolution provided
for action by Congress with respect to the discovery of the North Pole. It was
referred to the Naval Committee in course of regular routine, and in accordance
with the usual procedure it was sent to the Secretary of the Navy to report
upon. Secretary Daniels recommended that the resolution be not favorably
considered. In his report to the committee, dated July 30, 1914, he set forth
the facts in possession of the Navy Department in reference to the discovery of
the North Pole, Peary's promotion to rank of rear admiral, and so forth, and
closed the report as follows:
Believing that no useful purpose could be accomplished by such an investigation,
the department recommends that the resolution (H. J. Res. 282) be not favorably
considered. Should, however, it be the desire of Congress to institute such
investigation, it is recommended that the same be conducted by some form of
commission independent of any governmental department.
Thereupon the Naval Committee of the House of Representatives dropped
consideration of the matter. Dr. Cook, however, had still another resolution
upon the subject presented and drawn in such a way that it was referred to the
Education Committee, of which I am a member. This committee at the time knew
nothing about the matter having been before the Naval Committee or of the report
of the Secretary of the Navy, and one evening at one of the meetings informally
heard ex parte some statements by three or four persons whom Dr. Cook desired to
have heard. I had no intimation of the purpose of any member of the Committee on
Education to give a hearing to anyone. The meeting was not of the committee, as
there was not a quorum present, and the minutes show there was not.
An Illustration of Dr. Cook's Evidence.
There was an attempt to lead the committee to believe that in an article
appearing over the signature of Dr. Cook in the January, 1911, number of
Hampton's Magazine, a confession by him that he did not know whether or not he
had reached the pole was inserted in the article without his knowledge and
approval. It is sufficient to say that this was an attempt to impose upon the
credulity of the committee, for it was a simple matter for any of its members to
examine the newspaper file of that period—as I did—and to see that Dr. Cook, in
interviews, fathered the very statement which he was attempting to repudiate;
indeed, that he not only did not repudiate it, but that he expressed himself as
in accord therewith. It is needless to go into the subject of this resolution
further. Suffice it to say that the committee adopted a resolution dropping
consideration of the matter and by common consent declined to publish the
proceedings of the informal meeting before mentioned.
Then, a few days thereafter, the same method of procedure was again followed by
Dr. Cook, and still a further resolution upon the subject was introduced, and
this time it was referred to the Library Committee of the House of
Representatives. That those not familiar with the procedure in Congress may not
misunderstand how simple a matter it is to introduce a resolution, I need only
say that all that need be done is for a Member of Congress to file the
resolution and it goes automatically to one of the numerous committees. The
Library Committee gave no consideration to this new resolution. Not withstanding
this record, Dr. Cook, through advertisements and announcements in various parts
of the country, has succeeded in some quarters in giving the impression that
Congress was much interested in his claims and was giving them consideration.
Comments upon this phase is unnecessary in the light of the record here, and it
is not worth while to incorporate them here.
The Character of Evidence Dr. Cook Submitted at Copenhagen.
It is well for us to remember that the forum selected by Dr. Cook for the
determination of his claims was the University of Copenhagen. He sent it what he
declared were his proofs of his alleged discovery of the North Pole; but he
failed to appear in person before the commission of experts the university
appointed to pass upon the question. It found that Dr. Cook had utterly failed
to establish his claim.
Repudiation of Dr. Cook by the University of Copenhagen.
The verdict of the University of Copenhagen of December 21, 1909, is fully set
forth in the papers of the world of December 22, 1909. I quote, however, from an
editorial in The Outlook which succinctly covered the important facts. This
It was by the University of Copenhagen that Dr. Cook himself elected to be
judged; the verdict of that court of decision, thus selected by himself, must be
accepted by the world as final and conclusive. The wonderful tales now put forth
as to the cause of the disappearance of the original documents in the case will
have no effect on the mind of the public, because that public had already become
wearied with a long series of inconclusive and improbable statements heretofore
made. Dr. Cook had several months in which to prepare his case and submit it in
proper form to that tribunal to which he thought fit to have it referred. The
result has been a total collapse of his claim, always based chiefly on his bare
assertion that he had been the first to reach the North Pole.
What Dr. Cook Submitted at Copenhagen.
The Outlook editorial, continuing, said:
The committee of scientists to whom the University of Copenhagen submitted the
claim report that what they received was, first, a narrative of the expedition,
essentially the same as that printed two months ago in the New York Herald and
prepared for the present purpose by Dr. Cook's secretary; and, secondly, what
purported to be a typewritten copy of part of Dr. Cook's original notebook.
This alleged copy, they say, “does not contain any original astronomical
observations whatever, but only results,” and the committee declare further that
“the documents presented are inexcusably lacking in information which would
prove that the astronomical observations therein referred to were really made”
and also contain no details regarding the practical work of the expedition and
the sledge journey which would enable the committee to determine their
The Copenhagen Verdict Rejecting Dr. Cook's Claims.
The Outlook quoted the same as follows:
The committee's final verdict and the verdict of the university consistory is
expressed formally in the finding of the latter:
“The documents handed the university for examination do not contain observations
and information which can be regarded as proof that' Dr. Cook reached the North
Pole on his recent expedition.”
The editorial mentioned also quoted individual expressions of opinion thus:
Officers of the, university in their individual expressions of feeling go even
further. Thus, Dr. Stromgren, director of the Astronomical Observatory, at
Copenhagen. and chairman of the committee on the Cook claims, is quoted as
calling Cook's actions shameless, as admitting with sorrow and indignation that
the university had been hoaxed, and as saying that “it was an offense to submit
such papers to scientific men."
Rasmussen, a noted Arctic explorer who has favored Dr. Cook's claim, was called
in as an expert by the university's committee; he is reported as saying:
“When I saw the observations, I realized that it was a scandal. The documents
which Dr. Cook sent to the university are most impudent. It is the most childish
sort of attempt at cheating."
It will be remembered that Rasmussen was the Danish explorer whom Cook declared,
when he believed Rasmussen was in favor of his claims, was better qualified than
any other explorer to pass upon the question then at issue.
The Outlook summed the matter up as follows:
The fundamental justification of the distrust which has been felt all along in
this country by many scientific observers and students of the laws of evidence
has been that, to put it squarely, Dr. Cook has not acted as would have acted a
man of honor whose claims had been disputed and who knew that they were just.
Dr. Cook, on the contrary, has carried on a long series of evasions and delays,
and has apparently put his main efforts into making money by lectures, and
through publication. In this way he gained, some say $30,000, some say $100,000.
Finally, when patience was all but exhausted, he presented to a foreign court of
inquiry a lame and even ridiculous case.
The mere fact that he did not offer to appear in person before the court he had
himself selected, in order that he might answer inquiries, is most significant.
Dr. Cook's False Claims of Support by Polar Experts.
On the cover of Dr. Cook's book as now being sold in New York are printed the
names of a number of Arctic explorers and of others whom it is alleged support
him. Among them are Roald Amundsen, the discoverer of the South Pole; our own
Gen. Greely, who in one of his Arctic expeditions broke the record then existing
of the farthest north, taking it away from England after it had been held by
that country for nearly 300 years; and Capt. E. B. Baldwin, of the
Baldwin-Ziegler polar expedition of 1901. While It is true that these men, as
well as many others, before Dr. Cook's methods were understood, credited him
with veracity, it Is the height of charlatanary now to name them as supporters,
and the same remark, no doubt, applies to every other Arctic explorer familiar
with the facts of the case whom Cook claims as a supporter.
Amundsen Repudiates Dr. Cook.
As to the position of Amundsen, the discoverer of the South Pole, I quote as
follows from the report of an interview with him in the Detroit News:
Capt. Amundsen, himself unsuccessful in a search for the North Pole generously
joined in the acclaim that at first hailed Dr. Cook as the discoverer, and
remained firmly convinced that Cook was telling the truth until he (Amundsen)
was given an opportunity to examine the data and observations that Dr. Cook laid
before the University of Copenhagen.
“There was absolutely nothing in these alleged observations of Dr. Cook,” said
Capt. Amundsen. “It was all fake and could have deceived nobody. Thus, in
sorrow, was I forced to the conclusion that my old comrade was lying.”
General Greely Repudiates Dr. Cook.
General Greely, on October 14, 1913, sent out the following letter for
To the editor of the New York Times:
Returning from Europe after 10 months' absence, my attention has been drawn to a
recent editorial article, in the Times stating that I am quoted by Dr. Cook as
indorsing his claim to have reached the Pole. When the North Polar discussion
was at its height I published in the fifth edition of my Handbook of Polar
Discoveries, under date of Florence, Italy, January, 1910, the following
“The claims of Dr. Cook of reaching the North Pole have been thoroughly
discredited by his failure to furnish to the University of Copenhagen his
promised proofs of such journey."
That opinion has never been modified.
A. W. GREELY.
WASHINGTON, D. C.
And Gen. Greely, at page 269 of his book, “Handbook of Polar Discoveries”
The marvelous and detailed claims of Dr. F. A. Cook, regarding his alleged
attainment of the North Pole in 1908, are now generally and thoroughly
And at page 265 of the same work Gen. Greely declares:
R. E. Peary, the discoverer of the deep sea at the pole, who has won deserved
fame by his attainment of the North Geographic Pole prior to its being reached
by any other explorer—to the ability, endurance, and persistency of R. E. Peary
the world owes the discovery of the pole.
Capt. Baldwin Repudiates Dr. Cook.
Capt. Baldwin publicly repudiated Dr. Cook in December, 1913, as was extensively
reported in the papers of that period. I quote from a clipping upon the point as
Baldwin had refused to desert Cook in the early stages of the controversy, which
followed the return of Peary from the pole, and was widely advertised by Dr.
Cook as an indorser of his claims. In a letter printed in the “Cook book” Capt.
Baldwin sought to defend the pretender from the charge of falsifying documents,
refusing to accept the declarations of others to that effect. Now he is
convinced to the contrary, since his own statements have been so amplified and
altered by Cook that he has felt impelled to make public refutation of them.
Even his letter that appeared in the “Cook book” was “cooked,” and for two years
Baldwin has been protesting against the further use of his name. * * *
When Baldwin was asked how he had come to stay so long in the Cook camp he said
it was hard to believe the claimant had deliberately deceived, but after a
careful study of documentary evidence he had become convinced that Dr. Cook
“never was anywhere near the top of Mount McKinley and never got within hundreds
of miles of the North Pole.” Baldwin states that he has reached the end of his
years of defense of Cook, which continued “until I learned for myself the manner
in which he plays the charlatan with documents and letters.”
It is needless to pursue this phase further. The matter was well but briefly
summed up by the Washington Star some years ago in these words:
Dr. Cook has deliberately entered upon a campaign of justification, not for the
sake of making the world believe him regardless of reward, but for the sake of
dollars and cents to be won. He has organized his fraud and capitalized his
* * * The most deplorable feature of the matter at the present time is that it
is possible for a self-convicted claimant to the highest honors in the
scientific world to continue to reap a profit from the credulity and the
partisanship of those who refuse to accept official verdicts.
The Chicago Inter-Ocean, at the time of the Copenhagen verdict, touched upon the
situation as follows:
It is now possible to discuss Dr. Cook in plain language. The rejection of his
“records” as worthless by the University of Copenhagen ends forever his claim to
having discovered the North Pole. He stands today exposed as the chief imposter
of the age. * * *
The single-handed achievement of which Dr. Cook pretended to be the hero had
about it a glamor that won him friends by the thousand. Peary's forthright
utterance when, fresh from the north, he declared Dr. Cook had not been out of
sight of land and had given the world “a gold brick,” won Dr. Cook more friends.
These friends have remained loyal through thick and thin. But it would now seem
impossible for any but the most stubborn sentimentalist to preserve faith.
Many, no doubt, will cling to the belief that Dr. Cook at least was honest and
believed he had discovered the pole. It seems almost heartless to shatter this
last forlorn hope of loyalty. It will be remembered that Dr. Cook's two Eskimo
companions asserted to Peary that Dr. Cook had turned south from Cape Thomas
Hubbard. If Dr. Cook traveled south it is impossible he thought he was going
Nothing is left but to believe that Dr. Cook attempted to deceive the world with
malice aforethought and in cold blood that he might win fame and fortune. There
are no extenuating circumstances. Even common honesty must he denied him.
As a last resort, Dr. Cook. through his secretary, sent a letter to the
university committee saying judgment should be suspended until his instruments
and original data could he brought from Etah. * * *
Good men everywhere must regret there is no law among, the nations to punish
this atrocious crime. For such an act of infamy the thumbs of the world turn
The New York Nation at the same time strongly brought out a point which every
true-hearted American should take to heart:
In foisting this fraud upon the world Cook was guilty of much more than an
injury to the man whose laurels he was falsely claiming. It has been a great
loss to all the world that one of those rare events in which mankind
spontaneously finds occasion for triumph and rejoicing was converted into a time
of noxious wrangling.
As for Peary himself, he has been defrauded of something which can never be
restored to him.
The enthusiasm which in the first instance would have hailed
the accomplishment of a feat that heroic venturers for three generations had
strenuously sought to compass can never be resuscitated out of the possibilities
of the past. Such is the temper of man.
False as it has been proved, the claim of the cheap swindler has dimmed the
luster of the true discoverer's achievement. He will receive the full
acknowledgment, that his work merits, in the form of recognition from scientific
and other bodies and of a sure place in
History, but the joy of the acclaim that should have greeted him at the
triumphant close of his 23 years, quest can never be his.
And one more word of regret is in order. The denunciations of Cook's story
telegraphed by Peary from the far North were made the occasion of criticisms
which are now shown to have been unjust. That Cook was an outright imposter,
without the slightest title to consideration was doubtless as well known to
Peary from the beginning as it is to us all now.
Repudiation of Dr. Cook by American Organizations of Experts.
Although the University of Copenhagen found that Dr. Cook had utterly failed to
establish his claim, it will be remembered that be was discredited by and
expelled from membership in America's leading organizations made up of
explorers, those most familiar with the problems involved in his claims. Among
those whose action was published to the world may be mentioned:
The Explorers' Club.
The Alpine Club.
The Arctic Club of America, and so forth.
The latter organization, composed of American Arctic explorers, who had crossed
the Arctic Circle, expelled him while Admiral Schley was its president. Would
not a man of a keen sense of honor, if he had a righteous claim and really
believed it should be investigated, instead of maintaining a lobby in Washington
and besieging Congress, present his facts to the organizations of experts in
exploration, which had expelled him, and ask them to reinstate him?
Until he has at least submitted his case to them, it is suggested that he has
not purged himself or even attempted to purge himself of the odium which
attaches to his name, fame, and cause, which fact alone ought to be conclusive
that he has no proper standing upon which to appeal to the Congress of the
United States to take time and money to investigate his claims.
Dr. Cook's Expulsion From Membership in the Arctic Club of America.
The printed bulletin issued by the Arctic Club of America, which is a different
organization than the Peary Arctic Club and composed of explorers who have
crossed the Arctic Circle, shows that at the annual meeting of the club, held
December 22, 1909, officers were elected, including Admiral Schley as president,
75 members voting. This bulletin also says:
After the election of officers the following resolution was adopted after rather
a lengthy discussion:
“Resolved, That the further membership of Dr. Frederick A. Cook in the Arctic
Club of America be referred to the board of directors just elected, with full
power to act.”
The same bulletin further shows:
“The first meeting of the board of directors for 1910 was held on the evening of
January 5, 1910. The following resolution was unanimously adopted:
“Whereas the claims of Dr. Frederick A. Cook of having discovered the North Pole
rejected by the University of Copenhagen and other scientific bodies; and
“Whereas Dr. Frederick A. Cook keeps in hiding instead of facing his accusers;
“Whereas Dr. Frederick A. Cook has failed to communicate with the Arctic Club of
America, whose members have so steadily proved his friends in the past:
Therefore be it
“Resolved, That we consider the further membership of Dr. Frederick A. Cook in
the Arctic Club of America as not to its interests, and that the name of Dr.
Frederick A. Cook be dropped from the roll of members forthwith.”
Dr. Cook Also Dismissed From the Council of the Brooklyn
Institute of Arts and Sciences.
The Washington Evening Star for January 6, 1910, contains the following report
of Dr. Cook's expulsion from the Arctic Club of America and from the council of
the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, the scientific organization of Dr.
Cook's home city:
COOK BARREN OF HONOR—ALMOST LAST VESTIGE OF SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT
GONE—ARCTIC CLUB OF AMERICA, WHICH HE FOUNDED, DROPS HIS NAME FROM ITS ROLL.
New York, January 6.
The Arctic Club of America, founded by Dr. Frederick A. Cook and his supporters
in the North Pole controversy, through its board of directors, has dropped the
name of the explorer from the roll of membership.
The action of the Arctic Club directors last night was unanimous, and follows
hard on the heels of the explorer's summary dismissal from the council of the
Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences two days ago, and strips from the
explorer almost the his vestige of scientific honors, only the degree of doctor
of philosophy conferred by the University of Copenhagen remaining.
The Arctic Club of, America led his the welcoming festivities to Dr. Cook on his
return from Greenland and Copenhagen. Later the club tendered Dr. Cook, a former
president of the organization, a banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria, while many of
its individual members, including Admiral Schley and, Capt. Osbon, warmly
championed the cause of Cook when his now discredited polar claim was
Dr. Cook's Claim to Having Ascended to the Summit of
Mount McKinley, in Alaska.
Dr. Cook's contention that he ascended to the summit of Mount McKinley two or
three years prior to his claim with respect to the North Pole is a matter with
which the public generally is so thoroughly familiar that it is hardly worth
while to comment thereon extensively. The Delegate in Congress from Alaska, who
himself attempted the first ascent to the summit of the mountain in the year
1903, does not hesitate to say with respect to Dr. Cook:
All of us who know anything about Mount McKinley know that Cook's story of his
successful ascent of that mountain is a deliberate falsehood. * * * His story
was so fraudulent, that one does not have time to talk about it.
Explorers' Club Investigate and Reject Dr. Cook's Claim to
Have Climbed Mount McKinley and Then Expel Him from Membership.
The Explorers' Club, after investigating Dr. Cook's claim to have climbed Mount
McKinley, rejected it and expelled him from membership. The following account of
their action I take from report in the Washington Post of December 25, 1909:
CLUB EXPELS COOK—EXPLORERS DECLARE MOUNT MCKINLEY “ASCENT” A
FRAUD—EXPOSED IN LONG REPORT—NEEDING MONEY, FORMER FRIENDS SAY, HE PUT UP THE
JOB—ASSOCIATES ON THE TRIP TO ALASKA ASSERT THAT PICTURES, HIS CLAIMS, AND HIS
BOOK ARE ALL A SERIES OF PALPABLE FAKES—PHOTOGRAPHED ONE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN
AND MADE IT APPEAR TO BE ANOTHER—HAD NO INSTRUMENTS.
NEW YORK, December 24, 1909
The board of governors of the Explorers' Club met to-day in executive session
and, standing in silence, voted with bowed heads that Dr. Frederick A. Cook be
dropped from the rolls of the club for frauds practiced on its members and on
the public. Preliminary to its vote of expulsion
the board met to pass upon the report of its committee, which has been
investigating the validity of Dr. Cook's assertion that he reached, the summit
of Mount McKinley. This committee, in concluding an exhaustive report,
“Dr. Cook's claim that he ascended the summit of Mount McKinley in
1906 be rejected by the Explorers' Club as unworthy of credence.”
The committee's recommendation was based on its finding that—
“Dr. Cook had repeatedly made statements that have not been in accord with the
facts, and that he had entered into agreements which he has failed to keep, and
that the misstatements and broken agreements deal not only with matters
appertaining to discovery, but to ordinary financial transactions, so that no
credence can be given to statements made by him.”
FRIENDS AMONG SIGNERS.
Among the signatures appended were those of Whitney and Anthony Fiala, both
personal friends of Dr. Cook. The committee Is further explicit in its statement
that it undertook its investigation only after first apprising Dr. Cook of its
purpose, which he approved in person; and that it has disregarded the testimony
of Edward Barrill, Dr. Cook's guide, and of Frederick Printz, his packer,
although such testimony was before them—because it wished no cloud of partisan
contention or question of financial interest to dim the integrity of its
In addition to Whitney and Fiala, the report is signed by Frederick S.
Dallenbaugh, of the American Geographical Society; Prof. Marshal H. Saville, of
the chair of archaeology in Columbia University; Walter G. Clark, Charles H.
Townsend, director of the New York aquarium, and Henry G. Walsh, secretary of
the Explorers' Club, and individual signed reports are submitted by Herschel C.
Parker, professor of physics at Columbia, and Belmore Brown, both of whom are
members of the Cook-McKinley expedition, and by Charles Sheldon who has recently
returned from a year's residence on the slope of Mount McKinley, where he went
for the purpose of studying the configuration of the mountain, with a view to
the possibility of its ascent.
HIS PLANS NOT FEASIBLE.
Prof. Parker reports that he was a partner with Dr. Cook in the McKinley
expedition, both physically and financially, Dr. Cook assumed the lead with a
plan which proved unfeasible, and the party escaped with their lives, thanks to
the local knowledge of Belmore Brown, one of its members. “It was perfectly
understood,” says Prof. Parker, “that after the misadventure all further
attempts were abandoned for the season.” Otherwise Prof. Parker would not have
left the expedition.
Instead of this, Dr. Cook, it is charged, sidetracked all members of the
expedition until there remained only himself, his guide, Barrill, and one
packer, who was subsequently got rid of also. These defections left Dr. Cook,
says Prof. Parker, no instruments capable of measuring the altitudes he says he
attained. Moreover, he adds, the summer's experience had shown that of all the
party Dr. Cook and Barrill were the least fitted physically for arduous mountain
Belmore Brown, in the main, confirms Prof. Parker, and says also that in Dr.
Cook's book there is not one date given from the time he left the Chulitna
River. This makes intelligent criticism impossible, he declares. Brown asserts
further that he never saw Dr. Cook make a
single aneroid barometer reading during the whole trip. Confirming a charge that
has previously been made, he says that Dr. Cook was known to be in serious
financial straits, and would have had great difficulty in getting out of Alaska
if he had not reported that he attained the summit of Mount McKinley.
DECLARES PICTURES FAKES.
Brown fortifies his charges with the declaration that Cook and Barrill had no
ice creepers, and that, though Dr. Cook afterwards told Prof. Parker that he and
Barrill were roped together every foot of the last stages, Prof. Parker and
Brown both remembered that they destroyed the climbing rope as defective before
they quit the expedition. Furthermore, in none of the pictures published in Dr.
Cook's book does a climbing rope appear.
Brown and Sheldon also report that various photographs in Dr. Cook's book do not
represent the peaks they are said to picture; while Sheldon, denies that he is
the author of the appendix C in the book which Dr. Cook credits to him.
The committee as a whole, therefore, concludes in part that—
“Dr. Cook's account of the ascent is not only such as to be unconvincing to the
experienced mountaineer, but that under analysis it becomes incredible.
“That he entered into a secret financial agreement with a publisher which
resulted in embarrassment to his associates.
“That he broke his agreement with his fellow club members to supply his original
photographs and data upon which his book was based.
DESCRIBES ANOTHER RIDGE.
“That the evidence before the committee is to the effect that it would be
utterly impossible to ascend the glaciers and frozen snow slopes wearing the
rubber shoepacks which Dr. Cook states in his book he wore while making the
“That Dr. Cook's description of the ascent of Mount McKinley on the northeast
ridge, which is the ridge by which he claimed to have reached the peak, is in
reality, a description of the southeast ridge. The former ridge was explored by
him on a previous expedition and in his book he declares it impossible as a
route to the peak.”
Prof. Parker, of Columbia University, Photographs Dr.
Cook's Peak Many Miles from Mount McKinley.
It will be remembered that upon Dr. Cook's return from the Arctic regions in
1909 the guide whom he alleged went to the top of Mount McKinley with him
announced that they never had been to the summit and that the picture Dr. Cook
took with this guide holding a flag on the top was miles from the peak. Dr.
Cook, with respect to this, asserted that this was merely a plot of Admiral
Peary to ruin him. Anyone, however, who takes the trouble to examine the
newspaper files of that period can readily ascertain for himself that this guide
repudiated Cook's claim before it was even known that Peary had reached the
North Pole, for at the time he had not yet been even heard from. This guide
subsequently drew a map upon which he located the peak which was photographed as
the summit of Mount McKinley.
Prof. Parker, of Columbia University, subsequently took this map to Alaska in an
effort to locate this fake peak.
The following newspaper clipping sets forth his report upon the subject:
PROF. PARKER LAYS BARE MOUNT MCKINLEY FAKE OF DR. COOK—MAKES A
DUPLICATE PHOTOGRAPH OF HIS FAMOUS “TOP OF THE CONTINENT" AT AN ELEVATION OF
ONLY 5,000 FEET AND 20 MILES AWAY FROM THE BASE OF THE GIANT ALASKAN
PEAK—EXPOSURE BY EDWARD BARRILL IS COMPLETELY CORROBORATED—WITH MAP MADE BY
FORMER GUIDE AND DR. COOK'S OWN PHOTOGRAPH NOTED EXPLORER AND MOUNTAIN CLIMBER
HAS NO TROUBLE IN LOCATING THE SPOT.
Indisputable evidence of the falsity of Dr. Frederick A. Cook's claim to having
ascended to the top of Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America, is
furnished by Prof. Herschal C. Parker, of Columbia University, who has just
returned to New York City from his latest trip to Alaska. Prof. Parker undertook
the journey during the past summer to settle once and for all time the question
of Dr. Cook's veracity as to the Mount McKinley episode, and the proofs he has
brought back with him show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the man who failed
miserably in his attempt to rob Capt. Robert E. Peary of the credit of having
discovered the North Pole was 20 miles away in an air line from the “Top of the
Continent” at the time he claims to have stood on the utmost height of the
The most important piece of evidence obtained by Prof. Parker, and which not
even the most ardent supporter of Dr. Cook can question, if there be any left
who still believe in him, is a duplicate photograph of Dr. Cook's Top of the
Continent, or, as he was pleased to also term it, the ultima thule of his
ambition. * * *
The most cursory examination of the two pictures will show that they are
photographs of the same rock, while a tracing of the outlines of each leaves no
doubt of it.
Archdeacon Stuck, of Alaska, Exposes Dr. Cook.
The Rev. Dr. Hudson Stuck, archdeacon of the Yukon, in 1913 made the first
accepted ascent of the summit. In his book upon the subject, published by
Scribners in 1914, after tracing Dr. Cook's account of his alleged trip with the
packer Barrille to a point on a glacier several miles from Mount McKinley, then
From this point “up and up to the heaven-scraped granite of the top" Dr. Cook
grows grandiloquent and vague, for at this point his true narrative ends.
The claims that Dr. Cook made on his return are well known, but it is quite
impossible to follow his course from the description given in his book, To the
Top of the Continent.
Dr. Cook talks “about the heaven-scraped granite of the top” and “the dazzling
whiteness of the frosted granite blocks.” and prints a photograph of the top
showing granite slabs. There is no rock of any kind on the south (the higher)
peak above 19,000 feet. The last 1,500 feet of the mountain is all permanent
snow and ice: nor is the conformation of the summit in the least like the
photograph printed as “the top of Mount McKinley.”
But it is not worth while to pursue the subject further. The present writer
feels confident that any man who climbs to the top of Denali (Mount McKinley)
and then reads Dr. Cook's account of his ascent will not need Edward Barrille's
affidavit to convince him that Cook's narrative is untrue. Indignation is,
however, swallowed up in pity when one thinks upon the really excellent
pioneering and exploring work done by this man and realizes that the immediate
success of the imposition about the ascent of Denali (Mount McKinley) doubtless
led to the more audacious imposition about the discovery of the North Pole and
that to his discredit and downfall.
Dr. Cook's Present Methods.
It is said in a recent St. Louis newspaper, reporting an interview with Dr.
Cook, that he says he has" made about $10,000 a year out of his lectures and his
This same newspaper gives us the interesting information that during his
campaign he has obtained “90,000 signatures, which, attached to a petition, have
been forwarded to Washington,” and we may assume that as long as Dr. Cook can
find a market for his wares by his present methods he will continue them, and I
presume Congress can stand being deluged with these petitions from people who do
not have the facts except as presented to them by Dr. Cook and his coadjutors,
and who have no knowledge of Arctic conditions, but who seem to think that
Members of Congress are more competent to deal with them than the scientific
experts who have already passed upon them.
The Stand of Admiral Peary.
Admiral Peary's stand, persisted in through many years, not to demean himself by
any controversy with Dr. Cook, is one which must receive the hearty approval of
all right-thinking Americans. A few, perhaps, not knowing the character of Dr.
Cook's propaganda, do not understand that no self-respecting man could stoop to
engage in such a controversy. This phase is well summed up in an editorial in
the Omaha World-Herald which I will quote:
“They must either admit the charges or put me in jail,” says Cook and in the
saying discloses his motive. It is not only the besoiling of his successful
rival that he seeks; it is continued publicity—publicity no matter how
unenviable, so it may prolong his earning capacity on the vaudeville stage.
As a matter of fact, of course, “they” need do neither the one nor the other.
For the sake of the national sense of self-respect it is to be hoped that “they”
will leave the worm-eaten Cook severely alone, and that decent newspapers will
soon come to the stage where they will refuse to print his villainous slanders,
which are an affront not only to Peary but to the United States.
The Buffalo Evening News also expresses much the same thought in the following
editorial—and I lay particular emphasis upon the paragraph which I have
One would think that when a man has been, by his own acts of folly and
deception, utterly discredited and held in disgrace by his own countrymen, who
are, frankly ashamed of him, he would shut up, keep out of the way, nor dare to
appear in any public capacity. Yet Dr. Frederick Cook, the archfaker among
Arctic explorers and climbers of Mount McKinley, has nerve enough to erupt
again. * * *
Such charges, emanating from such a source, can do no harm to the distinguished
explorer whose claims as the discoverer of the North Pole hare been passed upon
and verified by the leading scientific societies of the world, and who, for the
glory he won for the American flag by his courage and perseverance, has been
fittingly rewarded by Congress. * * *
It is a shameful and disgusting exhibition, and Dr. Cook's appearance on the
Chautauqua platform is likely to cast discredit on the whole Chautauqua idea.
The Lowering of the Standard of the Chautauqua Platform.
As the president of a Chautauqua I must severely condemn the perversion of the
Chautauqua idea and commend the expression of opinion in the last paragraph
The Philadelphia Public Ledger has recently expressed a somewhat similar thought
in an editorial which I quote:
Throughout certain western Chautauqua circles, wherein the name but not the
nobility of the parent institution is used as a cloak for circus methods in
education, Dr. Cook has been eminently successful; but this will not change the
universal verdict of America and of the whole world. Let us have an end of any
further Cook Polar claims.
It also says:
Back of the recent action of the Committee on Education of the House of
Representatives, in dropping further consideration of what is known as the
“Cook-Peary controversy,” lies a long and sordid story, discreditable in all its
aspects. A group of people, some of them innocent and misled and others not
classifiable in polite terms, have been busily engaged in trying to filch from
Peary the credit due him as discoverer of the North Pole in the interests of Dr.
Most Americans supposed that the Cook issue died a natural death years ago.
The time will undoubtedly come when Chautauqua managers will be thoroughly
conversant with the activities of this man and the press of the country will
ultimately do its part against the circulation of perversions of history with
respect to the great feat that Admiral Peary achieved, an honor of which through
all future ages no nation can rob us.
The glory that is ours as a nation has been feelingly portrayed in the following
lines from the pen of Leigh Mitchell Hodges, entitled “The Flag that Tops the
You may sing a song of banners that are brave against the breeze,
Of flags that ne'er in time of need are furl'd;
You may boast the battle ensigns that have swept the seven seas,
But I toast the starry flag that tops the world!
Where the purple cold eternal
Seals the doom of all things vernal,
It is blooming with the beauty of a cause that can not die;
Where the wind is Death in motion
Flying o'er a frozen ocean,
It is smiling at the outer worlds against the frozen sky.
And the pole that bears the blossom of the old Red, White, and Blue,
Is the axis of the ball on which we're whirl'd;
0, it's fine to see her floating from the rod that bolds us true!
So uncover to the flag that tops the world!
'Round its base the hosts of nations
Through all coming generations
Will be circling in the life march till the spear of Time is hurl’d,
And by land or water faring
Not a man can get his bearing
Till his compass needle points him to the flag that tops the world!
The Last Phase.
Every true American educator must resent the recent efforts to poison the minds
of the children of this country with respect to the discovery of the North Pole.
Many newspapers seem to have been misled and have fallen into the trap of
offering Dr. Cook's book as prizes for essay's from the children upon the
subject of the priority of the discovery of the North Pole, and then, while the
children were in the act of writing such essays, printing a mass of material
furnished by Dr. Cook and giving a wholly distorted idea of the facts, yet in
such a subtle way as to give the impression of fairness.
To the honor of the editor of the Quincy (Ill.) Whig let it be said that he
exposed a similar plot in his issue of February 4, 1915. I quote from his
editorial upon the subject as follows, which is entitled “Press Agenting”;
A day or two, ago a smooth-talking stranger stepped into the office of
Superintendent of Schools Bauman, and after remarking about the weather, the
beauty of Quincy, and the high standard maintained by the Gem City's school
system declared that he was much interested in polar explorations and would like
very much if It might be arranged to give a series of talks on geographical
conditions in the far north in the local schools. He carried some testimonials
and got by with his request.
Scene No.2 reveals the Orpheum Theater announcing that Dr. Cook, the discovered
discoverer of the North Pole, would appear at the Orpheum some time soon.
Scene No.3 discloses an afternoon newspaper announcing that it will give away
free Orpheum tickets and a batch of Doc Cook's books to the school child who
writes the best essay on “Who discovered the North Pole."
Scene No.4 takes Mr. Baker into a number of grades and the high-school assembly
not as a lecturer on geographical conditions in the far North, but as the
advertising agent of the afternoon paper and the Orpheum Theater.
Mr. Baker made no “bones” in local newspaper offices as to who he was. The
editor of the Whig has plenty of his literature, signed “Personal representative
of Dr. Cook” but the Whig refuses to fall for the press-agent stunt which Mr.
Baker sought to pull.
In justice to Mr. Bauman it should be said that Mr. Baker kept him in absolute
ignorance of his real mission here, never mentioning his real mission nor his
connection with Dr. Cook. And should Mr. Baker hereafter attempt to set foot
inside a schoolhouse where the superintendent chanced to be it is more than an
even bet that he would never make a talk. * * *
The Whig believes that the people of Quincy and school patrons should know just
what manner of press agenting has been “pulled” on them.
The fact is that Doc Cook is just a plain notoriety seeker, now making his
living on the vaudeville circuits. * * *
His press-agenting stunt, however, is a good one and indicates the cleRustyss of
the chap who once was hailed as the greatest man of his time and not the
greatest faker. That the public generally and reputable newspapers will fall for
“Mr. Baker” is just another evidence, however, that the American public likes to
Further comment upon such activities is unnecessary. I would not close the door
of investigation even to Dr. Cook, but he is not entitled to one in any
direction until he acts in a manner that accords with his pretensions. If he has
any bona fide claims there is but one honest course for him to pursue. Let him
in a straightforward manner submit them to the forum he himself selected, the
University of Copenhagen, or lay them before the American organizations of
scientific experts which have expelled him from membership and secure
reinstatement. Until he has done so and removed the stigma which rests upon him
as a result of his expulsion from the organizations of American explorers and
experts upon Arctic conditions he should not, through a lobby, press his claims
upon the attention of Congressmen, who know little if anything of polar research
and less of the scientific observations necessary to prove them.
That a group of Congressmen, such as the Committee on Education upon which I
serve, are more capable of determining the contentions of this man than the
distinguished scientists who have already passed upon them is both amusing and
ridiculous. All will admit that such a committee could further the advertising
scheme of the lecturer, but no one will contend that any committee of Congress
should be a party to such an enterprise. Neither should this body be a party in
furthering this latest propaganda among the school children of the country.
NOTE. —As this pamphlet goes to press the New York World, Philadelphia Public
Ledger, and other newspapers of March 7 in dispatches from Palm Beach, Fla.,
announce that at a raid upon the Beach Club there, made by directions of the
governor of Florida in efforts to break up gambling, its alleged proprietors,
John R. Bradley and his brother, were arrested and held in $5,000 bail. John R.
Bradley, it will be remembered, was the financial backer of Dr. Cook on his
alleged North Pole quest, and it was with him on his yacht, the John R. Bradley,
that Dr. Cook went north.
Peary's Position Unquestioned and Unassailable.
The public mind should be refreshed at this juncture. Peary's journey in quest
of the North Pole and to make polar soundings and tidal observation was
undertaken with the sanction and full approval of the President of the United
States and at the Navy Department; indeed, he went to the Arctic under the
direct orders of the President as Commander in Chief of the Navy. The Congress
more than four years ago thoroughly investigated his journey and records and by
formal act extended to him the thanks of Congress for reaching the North Pole,
and by authority of the same act he was raised to the rank of rear admiral.
Peary appeared before the congressional committee which took the testimony and
was examined at great length concerning his trip, observations, records, etc.
The report of the committee presented January 21, 1911, was unanimous that Peary
had reached the pole. It is, however, particularly deplorable that through false
and misleading newspaper reports resulting from Dr. Cook's press propaganda he
should from time to time succeed in linking his name with Peary's, and thereby,
in the minds of a part of the unthinking and uninformed public, create the
impression that there was a possible question about Peary's attainment of the
The Report of the Congressional Committee.
For the report in full of the congressional committee investigating the matter
of Peary's successful trip to the North Pole see House of Representatives Report
No. 1961, third session Sixty-first Congress, from which I shall excerpt a few
Peary Reached the North Pole April 6, 1909.
The committee after reporting that “Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole on
April 6, 1909,” declared:
Your committee have come to the above conclusion after a careful examination and
hearing by the subcommittee extending over several days at which Capt. Peary
appeared in person and gave important testimony submitting all his papers,
original data, daily journal kept by him during the journey and notes of
astronomical observations and soundings, etc.
Continuing, the report set forth:
Your committee also heard—
The report of the National Geographic Society of Washington;
The report of the president and one of the boards of governors of the Royal
Geographical Society of London, which society, through its official computer,
had made an independent examination of the data and proofs;
And also a report from Hugh C. Mitchell and C. R. Duvall, expert computers of
astronomical observations, from the Coast and Geodetic Survey of the United
As to the ability of Messrs Mitchell and Duvall, Mr. O. H. Titmann,
Superintendent. of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, testified that
they were professional computers employed by his bureau, and that, speaking as
the head of the bureau, he was of opinion that they were “unsurpassed anywhere
in ability or experience”; that he considered them “unsurpassed” not only in
that bureau, but “in that line of work anywhere.” See pages 134 and 135 of the
testimony reported by the committee.
The committee in their report declared:
These reports of the American and British societies and of Messrs. Mitchell and
Duvall of our own Coast and Geodetic Survey are submitted in full in the printed
report of the hearings had before your committee.
These hearings established the fact that Peary reached the North Pole on the
above-named date in pursuance of a well-defined and carefully laid plan which he
had been able to formulate as the result of more than 20 years Arctic experience
and which he was able to carry out because of an indefatigable earnestness and
singleness of purpose.
As a result of this plan, when he reached out over the Arctic Sea, as bad been
done by other explorers—Nansen, Cagni, Greely, Lockwood, Markham, and others—and
came to a point beyond where they had turned back, and beyond where he himself
in former excursions had been obliged to retreat, be was able, by reason of his
supporting parties, to go forward with sledges filled with provisions and fresh
dogs for locomotion, these very essentials of success having been conserved for
his final dash.
Peary Also Won Farthest North Record in 1906.
The report of the congressional committee of investigation asserted:
Three years before, in 1906, Peary had reached 87' 6', the farthest north ever
attained up to that time.
He then learned the necessity of more careful preparation, and, returning to the
United States, planned a campaign by ship, men, Eskimos, dogs, canned
provisions, lighter equipment, to the very last detail, which resulted in
Thus Peary, as the result of each of two independent trips to the Arctic
regions, established records farther north than has any other explorer in the
history of the world, his successful trip to the North Pole having broken the
previous record which he held.
Peary Went to the Arctic Under Official Orders.
The committee reported:
Peary was an officer of the United States Navy and charged with the specific
duty in which he was engaged. President Roosevelt, July 3, 1908, detailed Peary
to report to the Superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey
and instructed that Peary be ordered to make tidal observations along the Grant
Land and Greenland shore of the Polar Sea.
Mr. Peary entered the Navy in 1881 and has served almost 30 years, he is at
present a civil engineer with the rank of captain. When leaving for his polar
trip, the Acting Secretary of the Navy wrote him that he was granted this leave
of absence for Arctic explorations because he is believed to be better equipped
than any other person in the country to undertake such work.
“You have,” said the letter from the Navy Department, “the requisite courage,
fortitude, and physique; you have had a longer term of service within the Arctic
Circle than any other explorer; and you have had large experience in sledge
journeying on the land and upon the polar pack; you have demonstrated your
ability to maintain yourself in that latitude for a longer period in health and
safety than any other explorer; you have reduced the inconveniences and
hardships of the Arctic service to the minimum. The attainment of the pole
should be your main object. Nothing short will suffice. Our national pride is
involved in the undertaking. This department expects that you will accomplish
your purpose and bring further distinction to a service of illustrious
The President of the United States gave Peary this parting injunction:
“I believe in you, Peary, and I believe in your success if it is in the
possibility of man."
Brief Outline of Peary's Campaign to Reach the Pole.
Our congressional committee of investigation outlined Peary’s successful
campaign to reach the North Pole as follows:
Going into winter quarters at Cape Sheridan, tidal observations were commenced,
and the members of the expedition began the transportation of supplies westward
to Cape Columbia. This became a camp and depot of supplies, from which the
journey over the Arctic Ocean to the pole was to begin.
The winter months of 1909 were occupied in preparing Eskimos, dogs, and other
equipments. After careful training the Eskimos and dogs were in the best
condition, hard and fit for the work that was before them.
The men, Eskimos, and dogs were divided into supporting parties. Each supporting
party was independent in the matter of supplies and equipment; they were sent
north over the ice at intervals of a day or more each.
In this way the first supporting party sought and found the easiest trail, which
could readily be found by the succeeding parties coming on.
Capt. Bartlett accompanied Peary to latitude 87° 47', or within 133 miles of the
pole. At this point they exchanged signed statements as result of observations,
and Bartlett turned back with his supporting party, leaving Peary with picked
dogs, good sledges, and plenty of provisions, and in fact the very best
equipment and supplies for the final journey.
In five marches from where Peary and Bartlett parted, Peary reached the long
sought for goal.
Peary's Observations and Instruments.
The report declared:
Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Duvall figured the position of Peary at the pole
independently, but based on the same observations and by independent methods.
Their calculations agree within a second of latitude.
Mitchell states that from his professional experience it would have been
impossible for the data of these observations to have been obtained other than
under the circumstances claimed. The observations at' the pole were made at
different times. He states that in using these observations in connection with
each other they, in a measure, prove each other, and that error could be
detected had the observations not been made at the points set forth in the data.
In other words, the two independent observations taken, on the 6th and 7th, with
the sun in the same direction, practically agree upon comparison.
On the return of the Peary party to the United States the standard chronometer
used by Peary was sent to its makers for rating and comparison.
Peary's Return From the North Pole.
The committee's report sets forth the speed of Peary and his various supporting
parties comparatively and with considerable detail, as follows:
The return journey was made more quickly than the outward journey. There was a
trail easily distinguishable, and both men and dogs realized that they were
returning to land.
Peary covered 27 outward marches (413 miles) in 16 return marches with the pick
of Eskimos and dogs all in good condition, 25 ˝ miles per march.
MacMillan, of the first supporting party, covered 7 outward marches (82 miles)
in 4 return marches, 20 ˝ miles per march.
Borup, of the second supporting party, covered 12 outward marches (136 miles) in
7 return marches with partially crippled men and poor dogs, 19 ˝ miles per
Bartlett, of the fourth supporting party, covered 22 outward marches (280 miles)
in 13 return marches, 21 ˝ miles per march.
Bartlett returned from his farthest, 87° 47', in the same number of marches (13)
as Peary did from that same point.
Later in the season MacMillan and Borup returning from Cape Jesup with the same
dogs used on the northern, trip, covered 275 to 300 miles in 8 marches, and on
more than one occasion covered, over 50 miles in a march.
Shackleton, on his outward journey, made marches of 18 and 20 miles. He returned
without dogs, and he and his men, dragging their own sledges, made marches of
20, 26, and 29 miles.
The report then declares—and I desire particularly to emphasize the next
paragraph, showing that Peary had at last attained the goal of centuries of
Your committee recognized that the attainment of the North Pole has been the
object of the world's famous explorers for centuries past; that Peary,
overcoming almost insurmountable obstacles reached the goal of a life's work,
that he was specifically commissioned to do so by his commander in chief, the
President and the Secretary of the Navy.
The committee then reported that if Peary had not gone to the Arctic he would
already have been a rear admiral, and that the advancement in rank which they
recommended would really have the effect of decreasing the remuneration he was
then receiving from the Government. Upon these points the committee declared:
Peary has at present the rank of captain. Had be remained at home and served as
a chief of one of the bureaus at the Navy Department be would to-day have the
rank of rear admiral. It is proposed in this bill to bestow upon him this rank
with the retired pay of that grade: such retired pay, the committee learns from
the Navy Department, will be $300 per year less than the pay he is now receiving
from salary and allowances under his present rank.
Honors Awarded Peary.
The committee further reported that up to the date of its report (Jan. 21, 1911)
Peary had already received the following recognition for his discoveries:
The special great gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society of London.
The special great gold medal of the National Geographic Society of Washington.
The special great gold medal of the Philadelphia Geographical ociety.
The Helen Culver medal of the Chicago Geographical Society.
The honorary degree of doctor of laws from Bowdoin College.
Honorary member of the New York Chamber of Commerce.
Honorary member of the Pennsylvania Society.
The Nachtigall gold medal of the Imperial German Geographical Society.
The King Humbert gold medal of the Royal Italian Geographical Society.
The Hauer medal of the Imperial Austrian Geographical Society.
The gold medal of the Hungarian Geographical Society.
The gold medal of the Royal Belgian Geographical Society.
The gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society of Antwerp.
A special trophy from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society—a replica in
silver of the ships used by Hudson, Baffin, and Davis.
The honorary degree of doctor of laws from the Edinburgh University.
Honorary membership in the Manchester Geographical Society.
Honorary membership in the Royal Netherlands Geographical Society of Amsterdam.
The North Pole the Greatest Geographical Prize of Three Centuries.
Upon this point the committee said:
The President of the United States and the Secretary of the Navy have
recommended that fitting recognition by Congress be accorded Peary for this
great achievement. The scientific societies of the world accord in pronouncing
this the greatest geographical prize of the last three centuries. It is a matter
of just pride that this honor has come to the United States.
The Committee's Tribute to Peary and its Recommendations.
The committee reported:
Your committee believed that in view of his long distinguished service in the
Arctic regions in ascertaining the northern boundaries of Greenland; his
soundings and tidal observations; his ascertainment of facts concerning the
northern Arctic Ocean; the general information he has obtained by living over 12
years within the Arctic circle; and finally having successfully followed a
carefully laid plan resulting in his reaching on April 6, 1909 and bringing back
to civilization the conditions existing at the North Pole, that Robert Edwin
Peary has performed a most remarkable and wonderful service; that he has
attracted the favorable attention of the civilized world; and that therefore the
American people, through its Congress, shall render him thanks and bestow upon
him the highest rank of the service which he adorns.
These, Mr. Speaker, are the important paragraphs in the official report of the
committee of investigation and upon which the Congress of the United States
acted when they extended to him the thanks of Congress, and authorized that he
be raised to the rank of rear admiral. And in submitting the report to the
Congress they transmitted the testimony before them, covering 142 printed pages.
The act of Congress adopted upon report of the committee became effective March
4, 1911. So much for official American recognition of the services of the
Action of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain.
Although our own National Geographic society had acted with more rapidity than
did Congress and had more than a year prior to the act of Congress acclaimed
Peary the discoverer of the North Pole, it is of interest to note that the Royal
Geographical Society of Great Britain accorded Peary the highest honor within
their power, nearly a year before Congress acted, to wit, on May 4, 1910, at a
meeting of the society in Albert Hall, London. In conferring upon Peary at that
time the special gold medal of the society, President Darwin, son of the great
scientist, Charles Darwin, extended to him, in the presence of its members, the
fullest assurance of their conviction that he was "the first and only human
being who has ever led a party of his fellow creatures to a pole of the earth,"
for it will be remembered that at that time the South Pole had not as yet
been reached. He said:
I stand here to-night as the representative of the Royal Geographical Society,
and, armed with the full authority of its council to welcome you, Commander
Peary, as the first and only human being who has ever led a party of his fellow
creatures to a pole of the earth.
At the same time the vote of thanks to Peary was moved and seconded by two of
Great Britain's most distinguished Arctic explorers, Admiral Sir George Nares
and Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont. The motion was also supported in a feeling
speech by Capt. R. F. Scott, who so soon was to lose his life returning from the
South Pole, The proceedings may be found set out in full in the Geographical
Journal of London for August, 1910, pages 129 to 148.
Subsequently Admiral Peary laid before the Royal Geographical Society additional
proofs of his attainment of the pole and supplemental to those previously
submitted. This was not done at their request, but voluntarily, that there might
be no question hereafter as to the action of that world-famous organization
being based upon adequate examination of Admiral Peary’s proofs. President
Darwin wrote Peary on December 5, 1910, in his official capacity as president of
the society, acknowledging the receipt of the documents and advising him of the
results of the examination of same. He said:
They have been thoroughly examined by us. In the opinion of my council there is
nothing in this or any other new matter which has come to their notice that in
any way affects the position indicated by me when I, on behalf of the society,
presented you with a special gold medal at the Albert Hall for your
explorations, during which you were the first to reach a pole of the earth.
And about the same time another member of the council of the Royal Geographical
Society wrote Admiral Peary advising him that the documents he sent had been
“most thoroughly and critically examined.” Both these letters are set out in
full in the record of the proceedings before our congressional investigating
committee. So much for the recognition of the services of the explorer by
distinguished men and bodies in foreign countries, and more particularly
mentioned in the report of the committee as quoted supra.