Camping | Wally 1 | Wally 2 | Wally 3 | Noose | Royal | Bartlett? | Diary | Rawlins | Peary | Home
Peary did one thing wrong...
His team leader and trail boss wasn't a white man. Racists have never forgiven him for that. In fact they crucified Peary for not taking a "white man."
If Peary had taken Captain Bartlett from Newfoundland, instead of Matthew Henson, this webpage wouldn't exist, Wally Herbert's book wouldn't have been written. British revisionist/racist historians, would have their British subject at the Pole instead of "the Negro" because Newfoundland was then an English territory.
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 his reliable fellow explorer of 18 years Matthew Henson (who happened to be 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. Only white men are reliable witnesses. Therefore, Peary faked the North Pole achievement because "the Negro was too dumb to know where he was"; that is what the racists of 1909 said and Herbert used their slur in his 1986 book.
Re: Dennis Rawlins
(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, etc.
• 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 calculations.
• 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 sighting of 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 wire.
• 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 wrong. 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 2001, 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 Peary's team.

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.

3) 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 had made 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 hatred.

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. Cook and the anti-Peary conspiracy he began on the Chautauqua circuit and turned into a family legacy which lives on today through the $1,000,000 Cook Society trust fund.

The Navigation Foundation Report
Doug Davies became aware of the Peary situation while working on the 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.

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 accepted.

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 North Pole.

By 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 to lobby 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.

Doug Davies 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 intelligent person.

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,
April, 2002

Email Page  |  Forum  |  Book store  |  Contact  Home

© 2002. To use our material: Terms