Henson, Matthew Alexander

Henson, Matthew Alexander,

1866–1965, African-American arctic explorer, b. Charles County, Md. He accompanied Robert E. PearyPeary, Robert Edwin
, 1856–1920, American arctic explorer, b. Cresson, Pa. In 1881 he entered the U.S. navy as a civil engineer and for several years served in Nicaragua, where he was engaged in making surveys for the Nicaragua Canal.
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 as personal assistant, dog driver, and interpreter on numerous expeditions to the Arctic between 1891 and 1909. On Apr. 6, 1909, Henson, Peary, and four Eskimos are generally credited with having been the first expedition to reach the North Pole. Henson later was (1913–36) a clerk in the U.S. Customs House in New York City.


See his A Negro Explorer at the North Pole (1912); S. A. Counter, North Pole Legacy (1991).

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