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.
For his final assault on the pole, he and 23 men set off from New York City aboard the Roosevelt under the command of Captain Robert Bartlett on July 6, 1908. They wintered near Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island and from Ellesmere departed for the pole on February 28-March 1, 1909. The last support party was turned back from "Bartlett Camp" on April 1, 1909, in latitude no greater than 87°45' north. (The figure commonly given, 87°47', is based upon Bartlett's slight miscomputation of the distance of a single Sumner line from the pole.) On the final stage of the journey towards the North Pole only five of Peary's men, Matthew Henson, Ootah, Egigingwah, Seegloo and Ooqueah, remained. On April 6, he established "Camp Jesup" allegedly within 5 miles (8.0 km) of the pole. In his diary for April 7, Peary wrote: "The Pole at last!!! The prize of three centuries, my dream and ambition for twenty-three years. Mine at last." Peary was unable to enjoy the fruits of his labors to the full extent when, upon returning to civilization, he learned that Dr. Frederick A. Cook, who had been a surgeon on an 1891-92 Peary expedition, claimed to have reached the pole the year before. Ella sent me this important card.