A Black Explorer at the North Pole
When Robert F. Peary claimed discovery of the North Pole on April 6, 1909, the only other American to stand beside him was a black man, Matthew A. Henson. A native of Charles County, Maryland, Henson accompanied Peary on eight Arctic journeys between 1891 and 1909. His skill in interpreting the language of the North Greenland Eskimos, in building boats and repairing sledges, and in driving dog teams was essential to the ultimate success of the admiral, who wrote, "I can't get along without him." Yet Henson was for the most part ignored, even by Peary, after that historic expedition. A Black Explorer at the North Pole reminds the reader that where Peary went so did Henson—often one step ahead as a troubleshooter. Drawing largely on his diaries, Henson describes the voyage of the steamer Roosevelt to Cape Sheridan on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic and the four-hundred-mile trek by dogsled over treacherous ice to the top of the world. Susan A. Kaplan, in her introduction to the Bison Book edition, discusses Henson’s accomplishments and the current controversy surrounding Peary's claim to discovery of the North Pole.
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aboard the Roosevelt Arctic Ocean arrival ashore August Big Lead Buchanan Bay built cabin cache Cape Columbia Cape Sabine Cape Sheridan Captain Bartlett clothing cold Commander Peary Commander's companions Cook crossed distance dogs drifting Egingwah Erik Eskimos Esquimo boys Etah expedition explorers Farthest North fight frozen fur clothes gave George Borup going Goodsell Harbor heavy honor hunting igloo Inuit Island journey kamiks knew Kudlooktoo land left the ship loaded mander Peary March Matthew Matthew Henson miles morning musk-oxen narwhal North Greenland North Pole North Star Bay northward old floe Ooqueah Ootah open water pack party Peary and Henson Peary's Polar Professor MacMillan Professor Marvin pushed quimos race reached rest sail Seegloo six a. m. skin sledges sleep snow spite started steamed storm three Esquimos took trail tribe trip turned walrus weather Whitney wind winter young ice