Commander Robert Peary’s sledge party posing with flags at the North Pole, photograph, April 7, 1909
Robert Peary reduced his large expedition party when they were 134 miles from the North Pole, traveling on with four Inuit men––Egigingwah, Seegloo, Ooqueah, and his guide Ootah—and his trusted assistant, African American explorer Matthew Henson. They raised five flags at what Peary claimed was the site.
Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary Papers, National Archives and Records Administration
The Discoverer of the North Pole
In the early twentieth century, explorers from many countries vied to reach the North Pole first. In 1909 two Americans, Dr. Frederick Cook and Commander Robert Peary, each claimed to have made the “discovery.” Though neither explorer could provide indisputable proof of reaching the geographic pole, Peary’s claim was more credible. In 1911, after holding hearings on Peary’s expedition, Congress honored Peary’s achievement and promoted him to rear admiral in the United States Navy. Today it is widely held that neither man actually reached the North Pole.
Your committee believe. . . . that Robert Edwin Peary has performed a most remarkable and wonderful service, . . . 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.
House Committee on Naval Affairs, Recognition of Robert Peary, January 21, 1911