Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Robert Edwin Peary is generally credited with discovering the North Pole in 1909, on his third attempt. On the second try in 1905, Peary and his crew got about 200 miles from the pole, setting a new "farthest north" record, but various hardships forced them to turn back short of the goal. The departure for this trip, reported in The Post of July 17, 1905, may have been a harbinger of things to come. An excerpt:
Special to The Washington Post
New York, July 16 --
To the tooting of the whistles of harbor craft, Peary's polar ship Roosevelt tripped her anchor off Twenty-ninth street, North River, at precisely 3:07 o'clock this afternoon and started on her journey for the frigid north ...
The departure of the Roosevelt was not without incident. Prof. Munroe Smith, of the chair of Roman law and comparative jurisprudence of Columbia University, won't forget Sunday, July 16, as long as he lives, because he fell in the water trying to board the Roosevelt from a naphtha launch, lost a new straw hat, and was all but carried away by a strong ebb tide. Prof. Smith was in a party invited on board by Mr. Louis Delafield, counsel for the Peary Arctic Club, and was the last to try to leave the launch, which was in command of a befuddled captain. Just as Prof. Smith caught hold of the man ropes to ascend the gangway, the launch captain ordered his men in the bow to shove off. Prof. Smith's feet flew in the air and the next thing he knew he was in the water, holding on for dear life, while the launch was steaming away from the ship.
Fred Stewart, second officer of the Roosevelt, ran down the gangway and pulled the professor aboard. The bedraggled professor was escorted to the engine-room because there were no dry clothes except furs on board. The launch captain rescued the professor's hat, but kept it as salvage. When Prof. Smith at last came on deck he was wearing an old cap that belonged to Commander Peary. "I'll have to get a new hat," he said, "but if I had not lost it I wouldn't have this relic of the expedition."
Of course, the Pearys and the members of the crew who are going farthest north had to sit and stand for their photographs many times. Finally, Mrs. Peary got tired. "This is a disgrace," said she, "if I had known what was to happen to me in New York, I would never have come. It has been nothing but sitting for pictures all the time." ...
The visiting party cast off from the Roosevelt and started for the city at 4:35 p.m. Commander Peary stood on the deckhouse of the government tug in the Narrows as the Roosevelt headed for sea through the main ship channel, looking admiringly at the receding ship, when some one asked him of what he was thinking. "I should think you might divine my thoughts," he said. "That is the sturdiest ship that ever started in quest of the pole," he continued. "Simply built, yet, I hope, she will prove effective. There was no waste of money in her construction or equipment. I can only trust that God may will that she do what I hope she will." ...
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