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S. 6104, A Bill providing for the appointment of Commander Robert Peary, February 3, 1910

In 1910 members of Congress introduced seven bills to honor Commander Robert Peary and promote him to rear admiral in the United States Navy. The House Committee on Naval Affairs investigated Peary’s record and made a favorable recommendation. The House passed this Senate bill on March 3, 1911, and President William Taft signed it into law the following day.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

S. 6104, A Bill providing for the appointment of Commander Robert Peary, February 3, 1910

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