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stefansson-wrangel-09-05-021-001

Hudson's Bay Healdsburg June 3, 1921

Dear Mr. FitzGerald: With reference to our exchange of telegrams about Wrangell Island:

(1) As outlined in my previous correspondence: Both the United States and Great Britain have under international law some claim to sovereignty sovereignty over Wrangel Island, of which the British are the stronger. Both have lapsed except that either can be revived by an occupation by nationals of either party and of prior occupation by one country cancels the claims of the other. Russia has no claim to Wrangel Island nor had any country but the U.S. and Britain.

(2) There is already talk at Washington about an expedition to the north next year (naval) probably under command after formerly British but now Americanized Captain Bartlett.

(3) I have been told by an employee of the H. Liebe's Company that they will establish a post in Wrangel ("when they can"). I think this will be this year or next.

(4) Wrangell will become American or British according to which nations (through its nationals) first takes possession. If we don't take possession this year we shall lose or else have a race for it next year, with consequent disputes.

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stefansson-wrangel-09-05-021-002

(2)

(5) If you land in Wrangel Eskimos under a man trained on my expeditions you will have no expense of houses, stores, etc. All they need is tools, arms and ammunition, tents, etc. Such a man, E. Lorne Knight, is eager for the chance. He would go on shares of foxes caught and so would Eskimos.

(6) I urge you to occupy Wrangel on the Company's account. If not, will you land for me a party & paying reasonable transportation charges. My chief (and almost only) object is to safeguard the island for Canada. I know Canada does not see its value now and will do nothing herself. That is why someone with vision must do something.

(7) My party can safeguard British sovereignty and next year you can continue the work by establishing a post there.

(8) Wrangel will, of itself, be valuable soon. That is not the main point.

(9) The main point is that whenever voyages across the Atlantic became safe and common, people will go in summer from England (Europe) to Japan, etc., by way of the Polar regions. Wrangel will then become a

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(3)

invaluable way station. Both in peace and war it will be beyond price. [Please believe that if you do not see this, it is because you are misinformed about the North. If I could talk to you I could convince you easily].

(10) Please reply by night letter. If you still feel you cannot do this — cannot carry men at my expense even — I shall try to engage a separate vessel to land my party in Wrangel. I would have no difficulty in doing this if it were not that I am tied by my lecture contract and cannot go to interview persons who might help me.

V. Stefansson.

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