English 1st Period
October 4, 2013
Matthew Henson was a female African American that was born in Charles county Maryland on August 8, 1866. Matthew Henson was famous for being of the first people to reach the North Pole. Matthew Henson died in New York City on March 9, 1955. Matthew was the son of two black freedom share croppers. Henson lost his mother at a very early age that not reported at this time. Henson’s father moved the family to Washington D.C, when he was 4 years old in search of work. Henson, his brothers and sister were placed in the care of their family when his father passed away. At the age of 11 Henson ran away and was allowed to move in with a lady who lived in the neighborhood. When Henson was 12 years old he left to work on a ship at a cabin boy. While working on ...view middle of the document...
He learned the language and the natives Artic survival skills. When the trip was over in 1893 Henson was the only member left of Peary’s entourage. The other men on the team abandoned and quit the mission. Henson took another trip to Greenland in 1895. Their goal was to chart the entire ice cap. This trip almost ended in tragedy. The team was on the brink of starvation. The members of the team survived by eating all but one of their sledge of dogs.
Over the next few years Peary and Henson would make multiple attempts to reach the North Pole. Their 1902 attempt proved tragic. It was tragic when six Eskimo team members perishing due to lack of food and supplies.The team made the final attempt to reach the North pole in 1908. Henson proved to be an invaluable team members building sledges and training others on sled-handling. The expedition continued into 1909. Other team members turned back but Peary and the ever-loyal Henson. Peary stated that “Henson must go all the way. I can make it there without him”. On April 6, 1909 Peary, Henson, four Eskimos and 40 dogs, the trip had begun with 24 men, 19 sledges and 133 dogs. Finally, they reached the North Pole.
They returned from the North Pole triumphant. Peary received accolade for his accomplishment but Henson was overlooked. He was overlooked because he was African American. The truth about Peary’s and Henson’s 1909 expedition still remains clouded. Henson never forgot his life as an explorer. He recorded his Artic memoirs in 1912. The name of the book was “A Negro Explorer at the North Pole”. In 1973 he finally received the acknowledgements he deserved. He was 70 years old at that time.
A&E Network Digital.1996. Matthew Henson Biography. http://www.biography.com
Museum.org.Matthew Henson: Artic Explorer.http://www.unmuseum.org