National Geographic : 1903 Dec
VOL. XIV, No. 12 WASHINGTON DECEMBER, 1903 El.ATONAL , THE VALUE OF ARCTIC EXPLORATION* BY COMMANDER ROBERT E. PEARY, U. S. N. IT is entirely appropriate that the first public exposition of the pres ent phase of Arctic exploration and my own plans for the coming season should be given in the National Capital and under the auspices of the National Geographic Society. It is unnecessary for me to note here the continued and unfailing interest in and courtesy to ward my Arctic work which has been shown by this Society during the past twelve years. You are well aware of it; I am well aware of it. I shall endeavor to place clearly before you tonight the plan of my campaign, and the means by which I hope to ac complish the object which you all know that I have before me. I hope that I may be fortunate in sending every one of you away with definite ideas, which will enable him or her to keep in touch with events as they materialize during the next two or three years. EARLY PROGRESS OF DISCOVERY Before taking up present plans, let us go back a bit. Some forty-five centu ries ago the known world lay within a little circle whose circumference touched the Black and Caspian seas, the head of the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Centuries later the fearless Phoenicians had dared the terrors of the infinite ocean which lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and sailed along the coasts both north and south. East they had pioneered the way to India. The fabled voyages of Ulysses and Jason dwindle beside their splendid distances. Still later came the work of the great explorer conquerors,Alexander and Caesar, open ing up far-distant lands as the Phoeni cians opened up far-distant seas. Then came that great burst of explo ration, the principal facts of which we know so well. Vasco de Gama to the south; Othere and the Vikings to the north, Erik and Leif, Columbus and Cabot to the west, lifted Africa, the northern headlands of Europe, and the western world from the mists. Magellan, following close upon their heels, circled the globe, and the world, as we know it now, lay revealed in its rough, broad masses. Since then exploration has, of neces sity, been a work of large details, baring *An address before the National Geographic Society, October 24, 1903.