How did matthew henson meet robert peary

Virtual Exploration Society - Matthew Hensen

how did matthew henson meet robert peary

When Commander Robert Edwin Peary set out on the expedition his Although Peary was the public face of their partnership, Henson was the. Matthew Henson was an African-American explorer who discovered the North Pole with Robert E. Peary in —or so they claimed. Although he was the only American to accompany Commander Robert E. Peary when he first set foot on the Pole, Henson, because of racial prejudice, was not.

Welcome home to a new day in America. Details of his early years are sketchy. A different version of his childhood has been chronicled in other sources, including his biography, Dark Companion, written by Bradley Robinson in collaboration with Henson.

Henson lived with his stepmother, whom he described as cruel, and at age 11, he ran away from home. Fleeing to the Washington, D. Worked as a cabin boy on merchant vessel, Katie Hines; introduced to U. Navy Lieutenant Robert E. Peary while working as a stock clerk in a hat store; accompanied Peary, as an assistant, on a surveying trip to Nicaragua and seven Northern expeditions, ; codiscovered the North Pole, April 6, ; parked cars at a garage in New York City, ; messenger, U.

Customs House, New York City, c. Honorary degrees from Morgan State College and Howard University; received various medals from black organizations; Congressional Medal, ; personally saluted by President Harry S Truman; Presidential Citation, ; reinterred with full military honors to Arlington National Cemetery Details concerning the years that followed, when Henson began work as a cabin boy on the merchant vessel, Katie Hines, are better documented.

An elderly seaman named Captain Childs, who ran the ship, educated Henson in several areas, including mathematics, the Bibleand the classics. He returned to the United States when Childs died and worked a series of jobs, eventually going back to Washington, D. Inwhile he was employed in a hat store as a stock clerk, Henson was introduced to U.

Shortly before leaving on his last polar voyage inHenson married Lucy Ross, a clerk in a New York bank. The trek to the North Pole was a treacherous journey that covered nautical miles. I cannot make it without him. I have come to love these people. Breaking the trail for Peary, Henson arrived at the Camp Jesup site 45 minutes ahead of the Commander.

Behind the team was pulled a sledge. Behind the sledge was a man. The man called his team to a stop and waved down the other sledges that followed. Wiping his eyes he surveyed the desolate, white wasteland. It looked very much like the last 40 or so miles of flat, cold icepack, but something told the man that he was now very close to the objective.

And one thing was certain. He was the first man in history to travel this far north. Perhaps a smile briefly crossed his lips as he remembered the first steps he had taken some thirty years ago that led to this amazing, dangerous journey Matthew Henson was only twelve when he walked from his home in Washington, D.

At first Captain Childs, a square, tall year-old man with flowing white hair, was reluctant to bring such a young lad on-board. When Henson told him that he was an orphan, Captain Childs relented and made the young man his cabin boy.

Henson had been born on August 8,in Maryland. His parents were freeborn black sharecroppers. When Henson was four, his family moved to Washington D. When his parents died, he and his siblings moved in with a nearby uncle.

Henson was fascinated by stories about life at sea, so when he saw a chance to become a cabin boy, he took it. Captain Childs was kind to Henson and under his tutelage Henson became an able-bodied seaman. Childs also instructed him in math, history, geography and the Bible as they traveled to such exotic locations as China, Japan, North Africa and the Black Sea.

When Captain Childs died Henson gave up the sea, and eventually found a job as a clerk at a furrier back in Washington, D. Fateful Meeting It was here fate brought him into contact with Robert Peary. Peary, an officer in the U. Navy Corps of Civil Engineers, had already made one exploration trip to Greenland. Peary's next naval assignment, however, would take him in quite a different direction. He was being sent to the jungles of Nicaragua to study the feasibility of digging a shipping canal there that would connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Peary left had brought back some Arctic furs to sell to the furrier and while there met Henson. Henson seemed to share Peary's interest in adventure and Peary decided to offer Henson a job as his personal assistant during the Nicaraguan trip. Henson, eager to resume traveling, accepted and spent two years in Central America with Peary. During this time Peary found Henson's skills as a mechanic, navigator and carpenter extremely valuable.

Peary, who was interested in becoming the first man to reach the North Pole, decided after the Nicaraguan trip to offer Henson a job as a messenger at the League Island Navy Yard in Philadelphia with an eye to having Henson come along on future ventures. Two years later, inPeary, who had been granted a leave from the Navy to do more exploration in Greenland, asked Henson join him. This was the chance Henson had been waiting for and he accepted without hesitation, though it caused friction with his fiancee, Eva Flint, and her family.

The exploration party consisted of Peary, Henson and four others. One of these was a doctor by the name of Frederick A. In an unusual move Mrs. Peary also traveled with the group.

The Kite struggled through the icy waters near Greenland to Wolstenholm Sound where the party set up a base camp. Henson's carpentry skills were called into play to build a two-room house that would serve as the expedition's headquarters.

The building, which came to be called "Red Cliff House," was completed at about the same time as Henson's twenty-fifth birthday.

Peary's wife threw a party to commemorate both events. In the spring Peary and his men left the camp with the goal of crossing Greenland from west to east in an attempt to find the northern-most point of the island.

Peary would then use this information to help him plan his trip to the Pole. Henson was injuredthough, and forced to return to Red Cliff House. Verhoeff had been left behind because Peary had found him insubordinate and undependable. He also resented the respect Peary accorded the black Henson.

Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole - America Comes Alive

Verhoeff and other expedition members also seemed to have little respect for the native Eskimo population too. Henson, however, quickly learned the Eskimo language, Arctic survival skills and local culture. What Henson learned from the Eskimos and shared with Peary would be key to them later conquering the pole.

This first trip led Henson to spend the next eighteen years with Peary in Arctic exploration. In they returned and Henson was the only one that remained with Peary when other members abandoned the expedition. In Henson, Peary and Hugh J. Lee charted the entire ice cap of Greenland and discovered the island's northern terminus.

This trip nearly ended in tragedy as the three came close to starving to death. At first they couldn't locate food they'd cached along the way due to new snow.

Matthew Henson |

Then the hunting became poor. They pushed on despite the hunger. Fortunately they managed to find a musk ox or rabbit just as things seemed hopeless. Finally they reached the northernmost corner of Greenland.

Matthew Henson

Peary had planned to do more but was forced to turn back. As they retreated, they had to use the dogs that pulled their sleds as food.

how did matthew henson meet robert peary

At one point Lee lay down to die begging Henson and Peary to go on without him. Peary answered "we will all get home or none of us will. In and Peary and Henson returned to collect three meteorites they'd found on earlier expeditions. These were sold to the American Museum of Natural History and the cash used to finance future assaults on the Pole. The Peary Arctic Club was also formed to raise more money. By this time Henson's continuous trips north had worn down his wife's patience She requested and received a divorce at the end of Trying for the Pole Henson and Peary tried for the Pole several times over the next few years.

Each attempt was frustrated and in the trip was disastrous.

how did matthew henson meet robert peary

Six Eskimo helpers died and the food ran out. They were blocked from progress north across the icepack by melting ice. In they returned with a new ship named the Roosevelt after the newly-elected President who was a supporter of the drive to the Pole. The vessel was specifically designed for cutting through ice. The hull was shaped so that if the ship was caught in a frozen sea the pressure would not crush the vessel, but push it upward. With this ship carrying them the first part of the way, the expedition was able to get closer to the Pole than any other human beings - within miles.

Melted ice blocked the final distance and they were forced to leave and try again in It was during the trip that Peary spotted what looked like land to him some miles off the coast of North America. The place, which he dubbed "Crocker Land" was discovered to be an Arctic mirage by a later expedition. While Peary went off to raise support for this next trip, Henson stayed with the ship to oversee repairs and prepare equipment. It was at this time that Henson proposed to, and married, Lucy Jane Ross, who he had been courting for two years.

Henson was forty and Peary fifty. Both knew they were getting too old for exploring the Arctic. It was then, or never. The Final Attempt Peary had carefully hand-picked his team.

It included Henson, of course, Dr. Marvin, George Borup and Robert Bartlett, who was the ship's captain. The plan was to sail to Cape Sheridan on the northern-most part of Ellesmere Island, Canada, then make the assault on the Pole using a relay strategy.

On September 5,the Roosevelt reached Cape Sheridan. They spent the long dark winter night there remember above the Arctic circle the nights are six months long preparing to strike out toward the Pole in the daylight of spring.

The time was spent hunting musk-ox, deer and rabbits for food. Henson made ready the equipment. Donald MacMillon recalled, "with years of experience equal to that of Peary himself, [Henson] was indispensable. In February ,Henson and some of the Eskimos traveled by sledge to Cape Columbia which would serve as a base camp for the attempt.

They built several igloos and cached supplies there.

how did matthew henson meet robert peary

Soon the rest of the group joined them.