|"Some of Dr. Cook's Recent Activities With Respect to Congress."|
|THE NORTH POLE AFTERMATH|
|SPEECH of HON. S. D. FESS OF OHIO, IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Thursday, March 4, 1915.|
Mr. FESS. Mr. Speaker, I would not take notice of the pretensions of Dr.
Cook were they limited to a mere newspaper publicity campaign, but in view of
the fact that some material in the interests of his North Pole contentions has
been incorporated in the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD during the present session, much
of which is misleading and some with no basis of fact, and which he appears to
be using as an advertisement in furtherance of his activities upon the
vaudeville stage by attempting to give the impression to those unfamiliar with
our procedure here that his polar claims are under investigation by Congress and
receiving its serious consideration. I as a member of the Education Committee
before which his representative appeared, propose, as a guide to the unwary and
in the interests of historical accuracy, briefly to outline what has occurred
that there may hereafter be no warrant, without gross perversions of fact, to
continue to use Congress as an accessory to his advertising propaganda, and as a
result of which he has already succeeded in misleading some most excellent
people, who, without themselves investigating the facts have been impressed by
his plausibility. And I shall also at the same time—as we are all so prone to
forget—incorporate a few of the salient facts with which we were once all
familiar, but which may have escaped the memory of some.
American History Must not be Perverted.
And in what I am about to say I shall voice my sentiments not only as a Member of Congress, but in the spirit of an educator—a college president, a teacher of history, and as a citizen jealous -that there should be no perversions of our American history. I may add that while Dr. Cook has called upon me, and both he and his representative have pressed his claims upon my attention, it has never been my privilege to meet Admiral Peary. Therefore I do not speak from the standpoint of personal friendship for the discoverer of the North Pole, but I honor him for the luster he has shed upon the American Nation by his achievements, and trust that a clear statement of the case will aid in preventing further misrepresentations (such as the latest to the effect that the Congress is investigating Dr. Cook's claims) and may lead those who are not experts in Arctic matters and not familiar with the facts to remember that it is well to be upon their guard lest, as has recently been said, “the skill and acumen of a practiced faker" be at work—qualities that are subtle and not always readily discernible.
Some of Dr. Cook's Recent Activities With Respect to Congress.
As to Dr. Cook's repeated efforts to get more notoriety by keeping a North Pole lobby at work in Washington, it will be recalled he procured a joint resolution in his behalf, to be introduced in the Senate last spring (April, 1914). It was referred to the Library Committee, and a subcommittee, which was named to look into the matter, flatly refused to give aid or encouragement to the investigation of any such subject, and there the matter ended in the Senate.
The American Press Saw the Humor of the Situation.
While editorial discussion is usually timed in seriousness, in this case there were numerous humorous newspaper comments upon the subject when the resolution was introduced, as Members of Congress may remember, such as—
Maybe he also believes there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Let us not be wastefully, ridiculously excessive. Why spend $300 for a medal for Dr. Cook when he'd feel just as happy and look a lot more natural with a 50-cent wreath of flowers around his neck? (New York American.)
If Dr. Cook gets that medal from Congress he may decide to send it to Copenhagen as a mark of gratitude for the free dinners he received there. (Cleveland Plain Dealer.)
Gold or leather? (Des Moines Capital.)
If Doc Cook gets from Congress that medal for discovering the North Pole, he may come back and want one for scaling Mount McKinley. (Detroit Free Press.)
Why not strike off 98,781,323 duplicates and give everybody else in the country one, too? (Boston Transcript.)
Vaudeville, having received the doctor cordially, why not Congress?
“Doc” always has some new scheme for getting before the public just about the time people have forgotten him. (Johnstown Leader.)
Surely some recognition should be given the most stupendous fraud of the age.
I would not repeat these quotations were they not called out by the character of the vaudeville performances of the subject of their comment.
Not satisfied with the Senate's ignoring of his resolution, Dr. Cook had another one introduced in the House shortly after the Seriate Library Committee had dropped consideration of the one before it, and the House resolution provided for action by Congress with respect to the discovery of the North Pole. It was referred to the Naval Committee in course of regular routine, and in accordance with the usual procedure it was sent to the Secretary of the Navy to report upon. Secretary Daniels recommended that the resolution be not favorably considered. In his report to the committee, dated July 30, 1914, he set forth the facts in possession of the Navy Department in reference to the discovery of the North Pole, Peary's promotion to rank of rear admiral, and so forth, and closed the report as follows:
Believing that no useful purpose could be accomplished by such an investigation, the department recommends that the resolution (H. J. Res. 282) be not favorably considered. Should, however, it be the desire of Congress to institute such investigation, it is recommended that the same be conducted by some form of commission independent of any governmental department.
Thereupon the Naval Committee of the House of Representatives dropped consideration of the matter. Dr. Cook, however, had still another resolution upon the subject presented and drawn in such a way that it was referred to the Education Committee, of which I am a member. This committee at the time knew nothing about the matter having been before the Naval Committee or of the report of the Secretary of the Navy, and one evening at one of the meetings informally heard ex parte some statements by three or four persons whom Dr. Cook desired to have heard. I had no intimation of the purpose of any member of the Committee on Education to give a hearing to anyone. The meeting was not of the committee, as there was not a quorum present, and the minutes show there was not.
An Illustration of Dr. Cook's Evidence.
There was an attempt to lead the committee to believe that in an article appearing over the signature of Dr. Cook in the January, 1911, number of Hampton's Magazine, a confession by him that he did not know whether or not he had reached the pole was inserted in the article without his knowledge and approval. It is sufficient to say that this was an attempt to impose upon the credulity of the committee, for it was a simple matter for any of its members to examine the newspaper file of that period—as I did—and to see that Dr. Cook, in interviews, fathered the very statement which he was attempting to repudiate; indeed, that he not only did not repudiate it, but that he expressed himself as in accord therewith. It is needless to go into the subject of this resolution further. Suffice it to say that the committee adopted a resolution dropping consideration of the matter and by common consent declined to publish the proceedings of the informal meeting before mentioned.
Then, a few days thereafter, the same method of procedure was again followed by Dr. Cook, and still a further resolution upon the subject was introduced, and this time it was referred to the Library Committee of the House of Representatives. That those not familiar with the procedure in Congress may not misunderstand how simple a matter it is to introduce a resolution, I need only say that all that need be done is for a Member of Congress to file the resolution and it goes automatically to one of the numerous committees. The Library Committee gave no consideration to this new resolution. Not withstanding this record, Dr. Cook, through advertisements and announcements in various parts of the country, has succeeded in some quarters in giving the impression that Congress was much interested in his claims and was giving them consideration. Comments upon this phase is unnecessary in the light of the record here, and it is not worth while to incorporate them here.
The Character of Evidence Dr. Cook Submitted at Copenhagen.
It is well for us to remember that the forum selected by Dr. Cook for the determination of his claims was the University of Copenhagen. He sent it what he declared were his proofs of his alleged discovery of the North Pole; but he failed to appear in person before the commission of experts the university appointed to pass upon the question. It found that Dr. Cook had utterly failed to establish his claim.
Repudiation of Dr. Cook by the University of Copenhagen.
The verdict of the University of Copenhagen of December 21, 1909, is fully set forth in the papers of the world of December 22, 1909. I quote, however, from an editorial in The Outlook which succinctly covered the important facts. This editorial said:
It was by the University of Copenhagen that Dr. Cook himself elected to be judged; the verdict of that court of decision, thus selected by himself, must be accepted by the world as final and conclusive. The wonderful tales now put forth as to the cause of the disappearance of the original documents in the case will have no effect on the mind of the public, because that public had already become wearied with a long series of inconclusive and improbable statements heretofore made. Dr. Cook had several months in which to prepare his case and submit it in proper form to that tribunal to which he thought fit to have it referred. The result has been a total collapse of his claim, always based chiefly on his bare assertion that he had been the first to reach the North Pole.
What Dr. Cook Submitted at Copenhagen.
The Outlook editorial, continuing, said:
The committee of scientists to whom the University of Copenhagen submitted the claim report that what they received was, first, a narrative of the expedition, essentially the same as that printed two months ago in the New York Herald and prepared for the present purpose by Dr. Cook's secretary; and, secondly, what purported to be a typewritten copy of part of Dr. Cook's original notebook.
This alleged copy, they say, “does not contain any original astronomical observations whatever, but only results,” and the committee declare further that “the documents presented are inexcusably lacking in information which would prove that the astronomical observations therein referred to were really made” and also contain no details regarding the practical work of the expedition and the sledge journey which would enable the committee to determine their reliability.
|© 2002 Russell R. Robinson and Dr. Frederick Cook.|