stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-002

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human nature and certainly less of the history of arctic exploration.
Apart from a few unrelieved tragedies, as that of the Greely expedition,
for instance, the most difficult arctic experiences have seldom diminished
the enthusiasm of those who took part in them. For one thing, they could
always see afterwards how easily the difficulties might have been avoided and
were eager to try again, feeling that their improved knowledge would enable
them to meet easily what had previously been insoluble difficulties.

Immediately on landing, the party did a very neutral
thing but one that was politically unwise. They erected a flagpole,
hoisted the Union Jack, and ceremonially reaffirmed possession to Wrangell
Island
while Captain Hamar and his schooner were lying at anchor. This
ceremony, of course, had no legal importance, the whole legal force being in
the character and permanence of the occupation itself.

But Captain Hamar and his crew got very excited about it.
To them the action was symbolical. They realized now how Wrangell Island had
been lying for decades under the very eyes of the Alaskans who understood
more or less of its potential value but who had never done anything about it.
Now they felt outwitted and that feeling spread rapidly over western Alaska
when the Silver Wave returned to Nome. Eventually it got to Washington in
the form of some sort of protest to the Government. This again would have
done no harm but for the ensuing newspaper publicity. Of course, the Wash-
ington Government knew very well that the flag raising had no significance
but it was something about which the yellow journals could easily excite the
newspaper public. The British claim to Wrangell Island might be ever so
clear but the garrulous newspaper editors, who really or ostensibly thought it
was an American island, managed to stir up a good deal of hard feeling, not
between the governments of the two countries but between certain of the
citizens of both.

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