Happy Almost-Fourth of July for all our US readers! For today, I thought I’d post some interesting stuff related to Robert Peary’s flag…the crazy patriotism we all will be indulging in in the next 48 hours makes the story of the flag at the North Pole particularly relevant.
The flag Peary carried when he reached the Pole in 1909 was sewn by his wife, Josephine, in 1898. Peary took it with him on many of his journeys north (often wrapped around his body under his outer clothes), and cut five small squares to cache at his five Furthest North points (picture 2 shows where on the flag he cut each square). After planting the flag at the Pole on his 1909 trip as a symbol of his success, Peary cut a diagonal strip to leave there and took the rest of the flag home, where it was resewn - Josephine Peary and their daughter, Marie Peary, are holding the reconstructed flag in picture 4. “Stars and stripes nailed to the Pole,” Peary telegraphed to the AP when he reached Labrador some months later, celebrating the American achievement of reaching the Pole first.
This concept of the American flag being the farthest north first was subsequently celebrated in the media and in various collectibles (like the pin and postcard shown). The flag itself belongs to the National Geographic Society, and hangs in their headquarters in Washington, DC.