Robert Peary

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Robert Edwin Peary, Sr. (May 6, 1856 – February 20, 1920) was an American explorer who claimed to have been the first person, on April 6, 1909, to reach the geographic North Pole. Peary's claim was widely credited for most of the 20th century, though it was criticized even in its own day and is today widely doubted.


Life and career

Early years

Robert Edwin Peary was born in Cresson, Pennsylvania, in 1856. Peary graduated from Bowdoin College, Phi Beta Kappa,[1] in 1877.[2] His home in Fryeburg, Maine, still remains in pristine condition as an inn known as the Admiral Peary House.

Initial Arctic expeditions

Peary made several expeditions to the Arctic, exploring Greenland by dog sled in 1886 and 1891 and returning to the island three times in the 1890s. He twice attempted to cross northwest Greenland over the ice cap, discovering Navy Cliff. American artist F. W. Stokes joined some of these expeditions.

Unlike most previous explorers, Peary studied Inuit survival techniques, built igloos, and dressed in practical furs in the native fashion both for heat preservation and to dispense with the extra weight of tents and sleeping bags when on the march. Peary also relied on the Inuit as hunters and dog-drivers on his expeditions, and pioneered the use of the system (which he called the "Peary system") of using support teams and supply caches for Arctic travel. His wife, Josephine, accompanied him on several of his expeditions. During the course of his explorations, he had eight toes amputated.

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