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The New Machines

The New Machines

Walter Wellman and Robert Peary

Chapter:
(p.107) Chapter Five The New Machines
Source:
The Coldest Crucible
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226721873.003.0006

This chapter focuses on the arctic expeditions led by Walter Wellman and Robert Peary, both of whom, through their expeditions, labored to align themselves and their expeditions with the American values. Wellman's promotion of the airship America allowed him to capitalize on the white American attitude that considered modern machines as the harbinger of progress, signaling the entry of the United States into the community of civilized Western nations. Peary's wariness of modern Arctic equipment aligned him with a countervailing attitude, also common among urban whites, according to which modern machines served as the handmaidens of luxury and decadence, qualities that seemed to be enfeebling and emasculating the white race. These two explorers not only made ships and aircraft as the new weapons in explorers' war against the Arctic, but also new weapons to fend off their human rivals.

Keywords:   Arctic expeditions, Walter Wellman, Robert Peary, airship, American values

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