After a month on the Arctic ice, Robert Peary bacame the first man to reach the North Pole. The only other American to reach the pole with Peary was an African-American named Matthew Henson. Four of the seven Eskimos who started the trip arrived with Peary as well.
Robert Peary grew up in Portland Maine. After college, he worked for the US Coast Guard and Geodetic Office. He joined the navy in1881 as a civil engineer. In that role, he became responsible for surveying the land for a potential canal. At about this time he became determined to lead the first expedition to the North Pole.
Peary received a six-month leave from the navy to lead an expedition in Greenland. In June 0f 1886 he set out on a 100-mile trek deep into Greenland. In 1891 Peary led another expedition in Greenland this time for the first time they were able to travel 1,250 miles and concluded that Greenland was an island. Peary continued to lead expeditions between 1898-1902 exploring parts of northern Canada. In 1905-1906 he led an expedition toward the North Pole reaching 86”30 latitude.
Finally, in 1908, he left for the pole on July 6, 1908. They wintered near Cape Sheridan. On March 1, 1909, he set off towards the pole. On the final leg of his trek towards the pole, he went with just his assistant Matthew Henson, and four intuits. On April 6, 1909, he arrived at what he declared the North Pole.
To this day there is a question as to whether Peary actually reached the pole, but at the time he was celebrated as the first to reach the Pole.