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The Coldest CrucibleArctic Exploration and American Culture$
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Michael F. Robinson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226721842

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226721873.001.0001

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A Man of Science and Humanity

A Man of Science and Humanity

Elisha Kent Kane

(p.31) Chapter Two A Man of Science and Humanity
The Coldest Crucible
University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on Elisha Kent Kane, who made Arctic exploration an American enterprise. Although U.S. interest in the Arctic had sprouted from British roots, Kane grafted different practices to polar exploration that allowed it to thrive in the United States. Although most British expeditions to the Arctic had been top-down projects, planned and funded through the Admiralty, the Kane expedition had grown up as a private initiative between Kane and his patron, Henry Grinnell. Both men had hoped that the popular campaign would induce the U.S. Congress to place the expedition under naval command. However, Washington's reluctance forced Kane to reconceive his expedition. His popular campaign took on a life of its own, providing him with a means of cementing support among various audiences. American expeditions to the Arctic took shape not only because of Kane's vibrant personality but also because of the way it meshed with new establishments that dotted the American cultural landscape.

Keywords:   Elisha Kent Kane, Henry Grinnell, polar exploration, U.S. Congress, Arctic exploration, Admiralty

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