Peary Robert Edwin

(06.05.1856 20.02.1920)

 

Outstanding American explorer of the Arctic.

Born in Cresson, Pennsylvania, in a wealthy family. When the boy was three years old, his father died. The elder Peary left his orphaned family a good inheritance of 12 thousand dollars for those times, so that after his death, the widow and the child did not particularly live in poverty.

Soon Robert's mother decided to move from his native town closer to his relatives in Maine, where his childhood and adolescence passed.

The strong-willed character, activity, craving for books and natural sciences manifested themselves in Piri already in his school years: he was considered one of the first fighters, and at the same time a very diligent and successful student. After receiving a secondary education, young Peary continued his studies at Boudinsky College, where he easily mastered the profession of civil engineer.

Like many outstanding people, young Robert Peary was tormented by the choice of life and dreams of future accomplishments. The quiet measured life of an ordinary engineer did not seduce him. He worked as a surveyor, tried himself in cartography, but after working for 1.5 years at the US Coast and Geodetic Survey, he resigned.

Hoping for a more interesting job, Piri began his career in the US Navy. Having passed the necessary exams, he was promoted to lieutenant and a place in the Civil Engineers Corps. His activities at that time were directly related to his college specialty: Piri participated in the construction of the wharf in Key West, worked in Nicaragua as deputy chief engineer in the exploration of the transoceanic canal route.

The decisive role in the life of Piri was played by the book of the famous American traveler E. Kane. He fell ill with the Arctic, as it turned out forever. Having set the vacation, Peary went to Greenland, while not having any specific purpose and route. His mother was one of the sponsors of the expedition, allocating his son the amount of $ 500, which was enough to sail to the city of Kekertarsuac in Disco Bay.

His first Arctic trip was a trip in 1886 deep into Greenland. Travelers advanced 160 km and were forced to turn back due to food shortages.

The first Arctic experience, no matter how difficult it was, only confirmed Robert Piri in the correctness of the chosen path. The next 23 years of his life he devoted to the task of reaching the North Pole, carried out several expeditions to Greenland and the Central Arctic.

During his second expedition to northeastern Greenland in the years 1891-1892 he covered a distance of 2100 km on sledges. The result of this sleigh trip was the discovery of new lands by Melville and Heilprin. Then Peary told the world that Greenland is actually an island. The journey of 1894 was dedicated to Cape York, where a team of researchers was searching for iron meteorites. The largest of the debris weighed almost 31 tons and was named Anigito. The strange name of the meteorite is due to Piri's little daughter, Mary, who was entrusted to smash against the cosmic chunk when she was loaded onto a ship, a bottle of wine. To celebrate, the girl cried out nothing insignificant set of letters, which later became the name of the find.

Geographical discoveries, glacier research, scientific works - all of this Piri was scarce. The most important thing that he dreamed all his life - the North Pole. There were three attempts to reach the pole. The latter in 1909 was sponsored by the US Navy, and his close friend, Theodore Roosevelt, accompanied him to Piri's navigation. At that time, Piri was already over 50. He understood that this was his last chance.

For the "great pole game" Peary picked up a strong team. The participants of the expedition, among which was the famous Canadian Arctic captain R. Bartlett, were announced one condition: until the decisive stages, no one will know how far everyone will go to the pole. Peary will determine the most worthy ones who showed themselves along the way. So everyone has a reason to work hard.

Peary walked along the paved road that his companions were making. He sent back one by one the satellites who made their turn in the game. It took four, one - forever: died on the way back. After that, Bartlett and Negro, Matthew Henson, Peary's servant, a constant participant in his expeditions, succeeded each other in laying trails in the hummocks.

 

Peary group at the end point of the last expedition to the pole

 

At the last stage, Bartlett is full of energy, he is elated, he is ready for a decisive throw. Peary hesitates. Then he says, averting his eyes from “Captain Bob”:

- I am infinitely sorry ... You, Henson, come with me. And you, Ukea.

Peary did not want to share his fame with another white man. He does not need authoritative witnesses of victory ... or defeat. How can verify the correctness of the definition of the cherished point of Henson or the almost illiterate Ukea?

Already on the way back, it became known that not only Robert Peary claims to be the conqueror of the North Pole, that he opened it second, a year later than Frederick Cook. With Cook, they were familiar from the time of the second Peary expedition, in which his opponent participated in the role of a doctor. Cook found no weighty and incontrovertible evidence, and he lost the argument about the North Pole. Peary was awarded a gold medal, an individual pension of $ 5,625, and also the rank of rear admiral.

The discussion on the priority of the discovery of the North Pole has not ended to this day. Since the middle of the 20th century, versions have spread that neither Peary nor Cook reached it; on the whole, a critical attitude prevailed on Peary’s legacy.

Peary's merits are marked by the Order of the Legion of Honor and the many awards of geographical societies around the world.

Peary died in Washington from leukemia, buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Peninsula (Peary Land) in northern Greenland.

Glacier in the south of the island of Alexandra Land archipelago Franz Josef Land. Named in 1895 by F. Jackson.

 

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