A Postal History Gallery of Related Events


John Rae




"I Never Expected A Court Martial In Arctic Records"

Charges were brought against Captain Edward Belcher following his unsuccessful search for Captain John Franklin in 1851, with particular attention given to his abandonment of the HMS RESOLUTE after only a single winter in the ice. He left the ship in the ice near Victoria Island north of the Arctic Circle.

The RESOLUTE was salvaged by an American whaler a year later and sold to the United States government. It was then refitted and sent to Queen Victoria as a good will token. In 1878, the British broke up the ship and a desk, made from the timbers, was presented to President Millard Fillmore as a gift to the United States. It was used until 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt introduced a new mahogany desk.

At the request of the President, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy searched for a desk with a naval association and found the "Resolute" desk in the White House broadcast room. It is currently in service, but changes are made at the preference of the President.

Admiral Sir Edward Belcher was Court Martialled in 1854 for abandoning three ships in the Arctic during the search for Franklin. This manuscript was the basis for a published rebuttal of the charge.


Sir John Barrow wrote Captain James Clark Ross of his surprise at the charges against Sir Edward Belcher over abandoning his ships in the Arctic.

The HMS RESOLUTE desk at the White House.

The crew of the Kane Search Expedition was released



Charles Francis Hall Expedition

A report from Charles Francis Hall in Hudson's Bay in 1864

The report to Henry Grinnell, sponsor of the two year venture, announced his arrival and condition. It is assumed the whalers who carried Hall into the Bay carried his mail by personal delivery.

A Proposal

Proposal for the Charles Francis Hall Expedition of 1860-61 ... Henry Grinnell sponsored his search for Franklin evidence at a cost of $2,500 for two years.

(Exhibition pieces courtesy of George Hall)