Robert Peary is Born

On May 6, 1856, Robert E. Peary, who claimed discovery of the North Pole, was born in Cresson, Pennsylvania.

During the early years of the twentieth century, the conquest of the North and South poles became the object of fervent international competition. Teams from Russia, Norway, Italy, and the United States vied to be the first to fly their nation's flag at the summit of the world. Many expeditions, such as the failed Ziegler Expedition pictured above, sought to explore the Arctic from the northernmost point of Russia, Franz Josef Land. Robert Peary set his sights on Greenland as the launching ground of a northward dash to the pole.

Robert Edwin Peary (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.

The Roosevelt embodies all that a most careful study of previous polar ships and my own years of personal experience could suggest. With the sturdiness of a battleship and the shapely lines of a Maine-built schooner, I regard her the fittest icefighter afloat. As I write these lines, I see her slowly but surely forcing a way through the crowding ice. I see the black hull hove out bodily onto the surface of the ice by a cataclysm of the great floes. I see her squeezed as by a giant's hand against a rocky shore till every rib and timber is vocal with the strain. And I see her out in the North Atlantic lying to for days through a wild autumn northeaster, rudderless, with damaged propeller, and shattered stern post, …a scrap of double reefed foresail keeping her up to the wind, riding the huge waves like a seagull till they are tired out.”

— Robert Peary