(above) Peary never used this overexposed photo for proof, nor another
one taken at the Pole that show the sun. In fact, anti-Peary writer
Rawlins conjectured that it was too bad such photos didn't exist, as
they would prove Peary was not at the Pole. When 2 such pictures were
found among the negatives at the National Geographic Rawlins claimed
they were deliberate fakes Peary staged to prove he was at the Pole.
But Rawlins argument begs the simple question "Then why didn't Peary
use them?" No one cares about Rawlins viewpoints ever since his
famous press briefing that destroyed
any credibility he may have had.
|Using an artificial horizon (a pool of mercury in a glass "tent")
Peary made very accurate sightings. Peary earned his degree in engineering
from a 4-year college before becoming a surveyor, and then a naval officer.
He was commissioned after selection through a national competition that
he won. Peary was clearly a superior mind; skilled in calculus, spherical
trigonometry and engineering. Peary was twice
chosen to survey possible canal routes for what later became
the Panama Canal. He mapped jungle routes in Nicaragua with his
assistant Henson in the mid 1880's. By 1909 Henson and Peary were the
world's most experienced Arctic exploration team. They mapped
northern Greenland and Ellesmere Island—the most northern bodies of land.
Markers (cairns) left by Peary were recovered years later by others
who confirmed his very accurate longitude & latitude records.
Therefore, it is absurd and insulting to claim (as certain anti-Peary
groups continues to do) that Peary could not navigate to the North
Pole. Such arguments will never have any merit because of two
scientifically demonstrable facts: 1) Peary's ocean depth sounding at
the Pole, 2) and analysis of the sun angle from his photos. The first
bit of information (ocean depth) had to be confirmed decades later
with submarine ocean floor mapping, and the second required a
technique. photogrammetric rectification, that was only developed 50 years later
during the "cold war". In fact, what is truly amazing are
the photos at the Pole in which the sun is visible. These overexposed
films were put aside, yet they contain exactly the proof of his position.
Experts who have analyzed them smile at the results. Peary was exactly at
the Pole, but he never thought to use photos of the sun for evidence!
|Henson, at left, while Eskimo drop the sounding wire at the Pole. Notice
the spool for winding the piano wire, attached to the sledge.
|This simple ocean depth map makes Herbert's drift theory impossible.
Herbert also made a mistake when he overlooked wind direction comments
contained in Peary's diary.
|Herbert used conspiracy theories and innuendo to try and destroy
Peary's credibility, not hard evidence. This remarkable photo, above,
was actually discovered by the Navigation Foundation when they
investigated the Peary matter. It is the abundance of evidence of this
high quality that has ended all the traditional anti-Peary debates
that started with the vindictive book by polar fraud Dr. Cook.
To this day Peary's sextant readings at the Pole are fully acceptable.
His ocean depth sounding at the Pole is correct, scientific
analysis of the sun angle in his photo agree he reached 90 degrees North,
everyone on the trip agreed they made the distance, etc. Where is there any
evidence whatsoever that Peary & Henson didn't make it?
There is no evidence
that they did not reach the Pole. All evidence, despite what any anti-Peary
conspiracy tries to tell you, is consistent with the fact that they reached
the Pole. Not just 20 miles from it, mind you. Exactly at the Pole, as close
as anyone could have found it with a sextant. And in the very competent
hands of Peary that was very close indeed.
|There is nothing more Peary & Henson could have done
at the Pole to prove they had found it.
• Peary's entire expedition
agreed upon every major detail, affidavits were signed by Marvin, Bartlett,
• Peary took many photos at the North Pole.
• Peary made multiple sextant
readings, over two days, from a cross pattern to triple check his position, and kept all the
• Peary recorded the event in his diary.
• Henson took pictures with his own camera that show Peary
taking sextant readings.
• Peary photographed four views, every 90 degrees looking away from the
Pole as a record.
• Peary scanned the horizon with a telescope to look for any distant
land but sighted none.
• Henson and his Eskimos took a depth sounding 5 miles from the Pole, finding no bottom even with 2,743 meters of
• Peary left
a metal can with his record.
• Peary's team spent about 30 hours at the Pole.
• Henson, skilled at breaking trail, was absolutely certain that from
Bartlett's last camp they made the distance of 133 miles to the Pole.
Peary had witnesses, photos we can still analyze today
(photogrammetric rectification), depth soundings we can verify, every description
is correct in every detail—what more could Peary & Henson
have done? Well? Any ideas? Peary did one thing
He didn't take another white man. If Peary
had taken Bartlett, this webpage would not exist, Herbert's book would
never have been written, etc. Herbert reiterates this bit of 1909 racism
in Noose of Laurels. When Peary left Bartlett, 133 miles from the
Pole (as was the plan, by the way, since before they left New York in 1908) and went on
to the Pole with Henson (a Negro) Herbert says he left behind "...his last reliable
witness." Did you get that bit of racism? Negroes are not witnesses according to Wally Herbert.
This accusation so
outraged a BBC Radio producer that she (Pam Fraser Solomon) produced, in
a 1/2 hour radio program
to address and refute this. It is on the Internet for you to listen to if
you have RealAudio software. Now you know
the whole dirty secret behind the anti-Peary conspiracy. Peary was an
"n-word" lover who took an "n-word" to the Pole. As the critics in 1909
cackled, Peary did this because "his n-word would say anything massa Peary told him to
say". (see: Dolan's Henson biography, 1979)
Why did it take until the 1970's–1980's before Peary was attacked as a
fraud? Why were Peary & Henson the American heroes of the North Pole for
3 generations before this happened? Are you ready? Here we go:
1) All the survivors of the expedition had died.
Prior to 1966, when
the last member passed away, if an anti-Peary book had been published
reporters would simply call up Donald MacMillan. "Mac" would set them
straight. Never under estimate the excellent character of every one of
2) Racial backlash.
The 1960's civil rights era led to an explosion of interest in Black
History, school bussing, etc. Racists were highly motivated to attack
Peary (with old Dr. Cook vitriol) and destroy the credibility of Matthew
Henson. In fact, when the USPS issued a stamp in 1986 depicting Peary and
Henson it infuriated racist. So did the 1988 reinterment of Matthew Henson
next to Peary's grave at Arlington Cemetery.
Arlington is a military
cemetery. It had been the family home of the south's beloved Robert E. Lee
until the north began burying civil war dead there. To bury "Peary's n-word
there...who wasn't even in the military..." was too much for some. Henson
had to be taken down.
4) Dr. Cook descendants Helene and Janet Vetters
strong inroads with their anti-Peary vendetta. They had money, they had a
network of writers and contacts that led to the TV movie mentioned earlier,
and they formed a tax-exempt "educational" corporation to perpetuate their
These factors, above, set the stage for anti-Peary books.
• Dennis Rawlins: Peary at The Pole, Fact or Fiction? (1973)
• Wally Herbert: Noose of Laurels (1988)
• Robert M. Bryce: Cook & Peary (1996)
These authors express what many perceive as hatred towards Peary for a list
of "reasons"—taking a Negro instead of Bartlett, for being a "spoiled" upper class Naval officer, for insulting the "claim jumper" (and colossal fraud) Dr.
Cook, for being obsessed with fame, for supposedly exaggerating a mere fiord
he once discovered by naming it Independence Bay in honor of July 4th (Brits are
still sore about the rebellion of "the colonies"), for mistaking a glacier
packed valley, 4,000 feet below him in Greenland, for a channel, or because his mother
dressed him as a girl when he was a child. (No, I'm not kidding)
Suffice it to say that all of
this Peary controversy is directly traced back to the colossal fraud Dr.
the anti-Peary conspiracy he began on the Chautauqua circuit and turned
into a family legacy which lives on today through the
Society trust fund.
Doug Davies became aware of the Peary situation while working on
Navigation Foundation Report in 1989. He discovered that there is
abundant evidence supporting Peary's achievement, and no legitimate evidence
refuting it. Every fact agrees that Peary did reach the North Pole, exactly
as he had stated, within the limits of accuracy of his sextant.
|The Navigation Foundation Report
Peary's 1909 achievement was neither doubted by the press nor the
public despite Frederick Cook's claim to have reached the Pole before Peary.
While Cook was quickly exposed as a fraud, Peary's success was constantly
The roots of this contemporary controversy can be
directly traced to Cook's vindictive book,
My Attainment of the
Pole, written with encouragement from his supporters in 1911. Cook
joined the vaudeville and Chautauqua lecture circuits (1911–1917 or so) to promote his book
while publishing additional editions ultimately totaling 60,000 copies. These were sold,
or given to the press, as he traveled from city to city. Many copies were
given as prizes to children for writing essays on who first discovered the
1917 a Cook supporter, Thomas Hall, published his own anti-Peary work
Has the North Pole Been Discovered? Hall's work is a classic in
obsessive, detailed lunacy. Cook also manipulated various congressman
on his behalf as exposed by S. D. Fess in his famous speech. These events became the basis of all subsequent literature
claiming Peary was a fraud. After Cook's death in 1940 his descendents
perpetuated what became a family vendetta to discredit Peary.
Cook's daughter, Helene Vetters, was a tireless troublemaker who
hounded 80 year old members of Peary's expedition to make statements
supportive of Cook. None would oblige her. Vetters' correspondence, now
preserved in archives, shows that she encouraged numerous writers to publish
books or magazine articles supporting Cook. She was able to inspire a TV
movie starring Richard Chamberlain as an innocent Fred Cook cheated out of
his North Pole achievement by Peary. This created a series of events leading
to Wally Herbert's publication (1988) of the worst anti-Peary work ever
written; Noose of Laurels.
From Janet Vetter's will in 1989 was born the
$1,000,000.00 tax-exempt, trust-funded Frederick A. Cook Society. This not
for profit corporation pays for endless pro-Cook propaganda to writers, the
media, and all major encyclopedias. They provided materials, for example,
that assisted Robert Bryce to produce his 1100 page biography of Cook (1997)
that claimed to prove Peary never reached the Pole.
Referring to Peary
critics in 1990 the National Geographic Society's (NGS) Gilbert Grosvenor
had written "... beyond healthy controversy lies darker and more dubious
ground." In an effort to fairly resolve this matter the Society
commissioned the Navigation Foundation to examine all evidence of Peary's
North Pole expedition.
Their report was published in a book and also as an article that appeared
in the January, 1990 NGS Magazine titled New Evidence Places Peary at the
Pole by Thomas D. Davies, Rear Admiral USN (Ret.) . Admiral
Davies' son Douglas assisted with research for this and for the book length
Navigation Foundation Report.
Doug's involvement led to a permanent interest in this area of history.
He now enjoys a collection of all the major books on this subject in
addition to the celestial navigation instruments, including a mercury
artificial horizon, and Waltham watches like Peary used. Doug has the same
model Kodak camera Peary used in 1909. With this he has refined the accuracy
of photogrammetric tests used to determine Peary's 1909 latitude.
is the only writer on this subject who can explain with reliable authority
how each Peary critic went wrong. An attorney by profession, Doug
brings a highly educated and disciplined intellect to this subject. He has
an expert understanding of the scientific and mathematical aspects of this
subject coupled with extensive factual knowledge of Peary's expeditions.
Doug's examinations of the classic Peary myths are not simply a matter of
his opinion, but rather of demonstrable fact that will satisfy any
You will find Davies forensic historical re-examination redeems our
historical past while providing the reader a rewarding and enlightening
journey. He applies brilliance to a murky area that had virtually swallowed
up a heroic team comprised of a Naval officer, his black assistant, 4 loyal
Inuit guides, and their ship load of team mates. Davies restores the honor
of legendary men who had a worthy goal—to be the first to reach an axis of
the earth; to stand on top of the world.
Russell R. Robinson,