Adolphus Washington Greely - Encyclopedia




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"ADOLPHUS WASHINGTON GREELY (1844-), American soldier, was born at Newburyport, Mass., March 27 1844. He graduated from the Newburyport high school in 1860 and on the outbreak of the Civil War entered the army as a private, rising to major of volunteers. In 1867 he was appointed second lieutenant in the regular army and the following year became associated with the Signal Service. In 1873 he became first lieutenant. In 1881 he was chosen by President Garfield to establish in Lady Franklin Bay one of the 13 circumpolar stations recommended by the International Geographical Congress held in Hamburg in 1879. Setting out in the summer of 1881 with a party of 25, he penetrated farther north than had any previous explorer, reaching 83° 24' N. and 42° 45' W. in 1882. Two relief expeditions failed to reach his party, which returned south to Cape Sabine in dire straits. Only seven were alive when finally rescued in the summer of 1884 by a third expedition under Capt. Winfield Scott Schley. Lt. Greely received medals from the Royal Geographical Society and the French Geographic Society. In 1886 he was made captain and in 1887 was given an unusual promotion to brigadier-general, being appointed chief signal officer U.S.A. by President Cleveland. From 1898 to 1902 he supervised the construction of telegraph lines in Cuba, Porto Rico and China, and of a very elaborate system in the Philippine Islands. He was likewise in charge of constructing means of communication in Alaska. In 1904 he was made a member of the board to regulate wireless telegraphy in the United States, and the following year appointed to the board to report on coast defences. At the time of the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, as commander of the Pacific Division, he was in charge of relieving the sufferers. In 1908 he was retired by operation of law. In 1911 he represented the United States in London at the coronation of King George V. He wrote Three Years of Arctic Service (1886); Handbook of Arctic Discoveries (1897) and Handbook of Alaska (1909).

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