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National Portrait Gallery

Sir John Barrow: An Arctic Obsession

Sir John Barrow (1764-1848), Secretary of the British Admiralty, was convinced that a Northwest Passage existed. Finding it was his obsession.

Prior to the Franklin Expedition, he had sent eight expeditions to the Arctic, and only one piece of the puzzle remained. Once Barrow found it, England's 300 year search for the Passage would be complete. He planned to grab this prize in a way that would demonstrate the dominance of England's navy, science and technology.

At 82 years of age, Barrow knew that the 1845 expedition would be his last chance. He planned, organized, outfitted and provisioned the largest, best-equipped, and most technically advanced mission of the mid-nineteenth century in just three months!

The only man who seemed to fit the role of expedition commander was a man Barrow did not want - Sir John Franklin - but without time or alternatives, there was no other choice.

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Library: Franklin Expedition, Exploration
Explorers, Boats / Ships / Submarines, Arctic
Links: Franklin Expedition
Northwest Passage, Arctic
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports


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A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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