Cook-Peary North Pole Competition

Lead: In 1909 Robert Peary and Frederick Cook claimed to have discovered the North Pole. Their competing assertions form one of history’s mysteries.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: They began this saga as friendly associates. Peary hired Cook as a physician on a Greenland expedition in 1891, and the Doctor unflappably set the bones of his leader’s legs after an accident on the shipboard part of the journey. They soon became competitors, however, in the race to the North Pole, which was made extremely complex because unlike the land-bound South Pole, the position of 90 North sits on drifting sea ice.

America’s First Century: Transatlantic Cod Bridge

Lead: In the decades before Columbus returned from his accidental discovery of the Caribbean in 1492, Basque fishermen, from the northern part of Spain, may have beat him to the New World.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Writing in his elegant and fascinating Cod: The Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, Mark Kurlansky presents strong evidence that Christopher may have been a Johnny-come-lately.

Along the southwestern slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France Spain lies Basque Country. None of multitude of ethnic groups that make up Spanish society have been more resistant to assimilation than the Basques. Spanish kings and Spanish dictators have tried to homogenize Basque culture and language but have largely failed. They are a hearty people and jealous, sometimes violently jealous, of their independence.

54′ 40″ Or Fight (Expansion of America)

Lead: In 1844 the Democratic candidate for President of the United States, animated the campaign by insisting the U.S. claim most of what is now British Columbia. It was either 54" 40' or fight.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 the United States acquired a vast amount of territory across the upper tier of the Continent's heartland. This brought it into conflict with those powers who also occupied and claimed various parts of the western territories. The most serious dispute involved Great Britain. The United States claimed all of its present expanse and a huge slice of present day Canada. In the early years settlement of these competing claims was not essential. Few pioneers of either country were living there and the absence of commercial activity made the issue of ownership less pressing.


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Richard Byrd to the North Pole II

Lead:  For decades Richard Evelyn Byrd was credited as being the first to fly to over the North Pole. It was his lifetime dream, but in recent years scholarly skepticism regarding his claim has begun to cast doubt on his achievement.   

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in 1888 in Winchester, Virginia Richard Evelyn Byrd had aristocratic roots stretching back to the early days of Virginia, and if one considers his maternal ancestor Pocahontas, further than that. His brother was Governor and Senator Harry Flood Byrd, who for four decades dominated state politics through his political creation, the Byrd machine. An adventurous child, Byrd as a young man was captured by the possibility of exploring the poles among the few remaining virgin areas on the planet. He served as a Naval Squadron Commander during WWI and became a naval aviator in 1918. In 1925 Byrd helped lead a scientific expedition to Greenland sponsored by Navy and the National Geographic Society.

Richard Byrd to the North Pole I

Lead: In the early twentieth century explorers, scientists, and aviators responded to the challenge to explore the ends of the earth. One brave and ambitious adventurer was Richard Evelyn Byrd.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: During the early twentieth century nations planned and funded expeditions to two of the last remaining unexplored regions on the planet – the North Pole and the South Pole. These last great prizes became a competition to see who could get there first and claim the honor for their nation. The footrace to the North Pole was won by American Robert Peary in 1909, although there is controversy among experts about whether Peary actually was the first or just simply reached the coordinates of the pole. In 1911, Norwegian Roald Amundsen claimed the South Pole in an historic competition which resulted in tragedy for the British team that dogged him close behind.

Plains of Abraham, Quebec, 1759

Lead: The Plains of Abraham were an abandoned farmer’s field that lay between Quebec City and bluffs that rise 200 feet above the St. Lawrence River. There in September 1759 Britain cemented its colonial control over North America.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The struggle for European continental dominance between England and France was matched in North America beginning in the 1600s. A century later France controlled New France, a vast claim north and west of the British colonies that hugged the American east coast. Both powers looked with lust on the fertile Ohio Valley. Technically, the French were already there, had established trading posts and fortifications and were doing a brisk business with Native Americans.

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