Matthew Henson is a name that should be remembered and celebrated for his bravery, determination, and perseverance as an Arctic explorer.
Born on August 8, 1866, in Charles County, Maryland, he is widely regarded as the first recorded African American Arctic explorer. In this blog post, we will explore 10 interesting facts about this remarkable man.
- Early life and education: Henson was born into a poor family, and as a child, he worked as a cabin boy on a merchant ship. This experience introduced him to the world of navigation and sparked his interest in exploring.
- Meeting Robert Peary: Henson met Robert Peary, a well-known Arctic explorer, when he was serving as a seaman on one of Peary’s expeditions. The two quickly became close friends and worked together on several Arctic expeditions.
- Role in the Discovery of the North Pole: Henson played a crucial role in Peary’s final expedition to the North Pole in 1909. Henson served as a navigator, interpreter, and assistant to Peary and is credited with discovering the actual location of the North Pole.
- Barrier-breaking explorer: Henson broke barriers as a black man in a white-dominated field and faced racism and discrimination throughout his career. Despite this, he never let it stop him from achieving his goals and making history.
- Honors and recognition: Henson received several honours and recognition for his contributions to Arctic exploration, including the Peary Polar Expedition Medal and the Explorers Club Medal. In 1988, he was posthumously inducted into the National Geographic Society’s Hall of Fame.
- Life after exploration: After retiring from Arctic exploration, Henson lived a quiet life and worked as a customs inspector in New York. He also wrote a book called “A Negro Explorer at the North Pole,” which was about his adventures.
- Legacy: Henson’s legacy continues to inspire and encourage future generations of explorers and adventurers. He is remembered as a trailblazer who broke barriers and paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps.
- Family: Henson was married twice and had three children. He died on March 9, 1955, at the age of 88.
- Matthew Henson Day: In Maryland, the state where Henson was born, his birthday, August 8, is officially recognised as Matthew Henson Day.
- Arctic Heritage Center: In 2016, the National Park Service opened the Matthew Henson Arctic Heritage Center in Anchorage, Alaska, to honour and celebrate Henson’s contributions to Arctic exploration.
Matthew Henson was a remarkable man who broke barriers and made history as the first recorded African American Arctic explorer. He faced many challenges and obstacles, but his determination and courage never wavered. Henson’s legacy continues to inspire and encourage future generations, and his achievements will always be remembered as a testament to human bravery and perseverance.