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VERDICT OF THE SCIENTIFIC TRIBUNALS ON THE CLAIMS OF COMMANDER ROBERT E. PEARY
AND DR. FREDERICK A. COOK.
During the month of October, 1909, The National Geographical Society, Washington, D. C., requeSted Commander Peary and Dr. Cook to submit their proofs that they had reached the North Pole to a Committee of Scientists to be appointed by that Society, so that they might pass upon them. Commander Peary signified his willingness to do this and at once forwarded his proofs and data to the Society. Dr. Cook refused to do this giving as a reason that he had promised the University of Copenhagen in Denmark to first submit his proofs to them and that his decision was unalterable.
PEARY PROVES HE REACHED POLE.
On November 3rd, 1909, the Board of Managers of the National Geographical Society accepted unanimously the report of its sub-committee of Scientists who had examined Commander Peary's records and proofs and adopted the following resolutions:
"Whereas, Commander Robert E. Peary has reached the North Pole, the goal sought for centuries;
"Whereas, this is the greatest geographical achievement that this society can have opportunity to honor, therefore,
"Resolved, that a special medal be awarded to Commander Peary.
"Resolved, that the question of whether or not any one reached the North Pole prior to tom be referred to the committee on research, With instructions to recommend to the board of managers a subcommittee of experts who shall have authority to send for papers or make such journeys as may be necessary to inspect original records, and that this action of the society be communicated at once to those who may have evidence of importance."
addition to awarding Commander Peary a special gold medal as a token of
the highest honor the society could bestow upon him, it also was
decided that a medal be given to Capt. R. A. Bartlett, who was declared
by the Society to have displayed "able seamanship, pertinacious effort, and able management" during the Peary Arctic expedition.
presentation of the medal to Commander Peary took place at a dinner
given by the Society to the explorer in Washington on December 15th.
This dinner was attended by all the members of the Diplomatic Corps in
Washington representing nearly every nation in the world, besides
hundreds of America's foremost men.
The President of the Society in presenting the medal declared Commander Peary to be "The True Discoverer of the North Pole." This was received by those present with great applause and cheers.PEARY EXPRESSES HIS THANKS.
Clasping the case containing the medal Commander Peary began in a husky voice to tell how grateful he felt.
"I can't tell you how I appreciate the words of your president and the presentation of this medal, which means the faith and approval of this great society." he said. "The foremost geographical society in the world has been the first to recognize the winning of the last prize of discovery the world hag to offer."
Mr. Peary then gave the credit for the achievement to Morris K. Jesup and Gen. Thomas Hubbard and other friends who financed his expeditions and to the members of his party.
"If it had not been for the perseverance and endurance of the entire party, from Capt. Bartlett down, we would not have the pole with us tonight," said the commander. "Experience was what won the pole. If inexperience or a lucky combination of circumstances could have availed, the pole would have been reached long ago by the English or Norwegian explorers. Experience alone counted, and it is what will count with the next man who reaches the pole."DR. FREDERICK A. COOK'S CLAIM SHATTERED — "NO PROOF HE REACHED THE NORTH POLE."
In the latter part of November, 1909, Dr. Frederick A. Cook forwarded to the University of Copenhagen his data and proofs that he reached the North Pole as claimed April 21st, 1908. This material was placed in a strongiron box and put on board an ocean steamer in care of Walter Lonsdale, Dr. Cook's secretary.
As soon as this boat had put to sea, two men in New York, G. H. Dunkle, and Capt. A. W. Loose, made sworn statements that they had been paid by Dr. Cook to fabricate astronomical and other observations which he used in his report to the University of Copenhagen. It is only just to say that that body in its report made no mention of the claim of these two men.
On December 21st, 1909, the University of Copenhagen made public the report of its Committee of Scientists to whom had been referred the proofs, observations and records of Dr. Cook. This report was made in the Danish language, the translation being as follows:
"For the purpose of judging the journal which was given to the University of Copenhagen by Walter Lonsdale, the secretary of Dr. Frederick A. Cook, the consistory of the university appointed a committee consisting of the foliowing specialists: Eli Stronmgren, professor of astronomy in University of Copenhagen, chairman of the committee; Folke Engstrom, observer at the astronomical observatory in Lund; Commander Gustav Holm, chief pilot, Copenhagen; Commander I. A. D. Jensen, director of navigation, Copenhagen; C. F. Pechule, observer at Copenhagen astronomical observatory; Capt. Carl Ryder, director of the meteorological institute.
"The commission later associated With itself the author, Knud Rasmussen.REPORT OF THE COMMISSION.
"The consistory received from the commission a report as follows:
"ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY, Copenhagen, Dec. 18, 1909.—The documents which were handed to the commission for examination are :
"1. A typewritten report of Dr. Cook's North Pole journey made by Mr. Lonsdale [61 folio pages].
"2. A typewritten copy made from Dr. Cook's notebooks covering the period from March 18, 1908, until June 13, 1908, the time in which, according to Dr. Cook's statement, he journeyed to the pole and back to an undefined point on the polar ice west of Axel Heiberg's iand [16 folio pages].
"These two documents were transmitted by Dr. Cook through Mr. Lonsdale on the 19th of December of this year to the rector of the university, Prof. Salomonsen, and to Prof. Stromgren.
"The papers named were not accompanied by any letter from Dr. Cook, but Mr. Lonsdale stated orally that the original notebooks, which for safety's sake had been sent to Europe by another route, would be turned over to the university in the course of a few days.
"The second document, according to Mr. Lonsdale's explicit and repeated assurances, was a complete and accurate copy of all the information contained in the notebooks, which, according to the opinion of Dr. Cook, could be of any use for the university's examination. These notebooks, in spite of the promises given, have not yet come into the hands of the commission, and up to the present time it has been impossible to establish communication with Dr. Cook, whose address is unknown even to his secretary.
"After the members of the commission had individually familiarized themselves with the material submitted and in this way reached the conclusion that it was absolutely worthless for deciding the question as to whether Dr. Cook had reached ihe North Pole, the chairman called a meeting for Friday, Dec. 17, for the purpose of preparing a report to the university.
"To this meeting Mr. Lonsdale was invited to come and answer some questions. He brought with him on this occasion a letter from Dr. Cook in his own handwriting, upon which there was neither the place nor the date of writing, but on the envelope was stamped 'Marseilles, Dec. 14, 1909.' In the same (opened) envelope there was a letter from Dr. Cook to the then rector, Prof. Torp, dated New York, Sept. 27, 1909.
"In his letter Dr. Cook stated that not only his instruments, as he had announced in his telegram to the university of Oct. 23, 1909, but also the most of his astronomical observations, had been left behind at Etah and that without these it 'seems unwise and impossible' to pass final judgment upon his journey.
"In consequence of the conditions just stated the commission gives as the results of its examination of the material submitted the following as its conviction:
"The report of the expedition referred to under 1 is essentially the same that was published during September and October of this year in the New York Herald.
"The copy of the notebooks referred to under 2 contains no original astronomical observations whatsoever, but only results.
"The data in the documents submitted to us are of such an unsatisfactory character that it is not possible to declare with certainty that the astronomical observations referred to were actually made; there are likewise lacking details in practical matters, such as sledge journeys, which could furnish some control. The commission is therefore of opinion that the material transmitted for examination contains no proof whatsoever that Dr. Cook reached the North Pole.
"ELLIS STROMGREN, Chairman.
"C. F. PECHULE.
"I. A. D. JENSEN.
"In consequence of the explanation given by the commission of specialists, the consistory of the university declares that the material which has come to the university for examination contains no observations nor information that can be regarded as proof that Dr. Cook on his last polar journey reached the North Pole.
"CARL JUL SALOMONSEN.
DR. COOK IN DISGRACE.
Today, Dr. Frederick A. Cook, who but a few short weeks ago was a national hero, a man whose name was mentioned as second only to Christopher Columbus, as one of the boldest explorers of all time, is somewhere in hiding; he is shorn of all his glory and honor, his name stricken from the rolls of scientific societies. He is disowned by his friends and in deep disgrace.