Two members of Dr. Frederick Cook's expedition, North Pole, photograph, ca. 1908
Frederick Cook made the last leg of his polar expedition with only two other men, Etukishook and Ahwelah, both Inuit hunters. They raised the American flag over an igloo at what Cook claimed was the North Pole. In later testimony, Cook’s Inuit companions could not prove his claim, as they did not navigate by maps or latitude.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
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