- from Explorers
On April 6, 1909, Matthew Henson made it to the top of the world. He was with Admiral Robert Peary and four Inuit named Ookeah, Ootah, Egingwah, and Seegloo. They were the first people to reach the rugged North Pole. Many had died trying to get there.
Peary came home to glory, honors, and money. But because he was African American, Matthew Henson was ignored. Today, however, the amazing role this brave, skilled man played is well known.
Henson was 21 and Peary was 31 when they teamed up to explore. In June 1891, they sailed from New York with the first North Greenland Expedition. Five times, over several years, they were defeated by the icy, rocky land. In 1893, they fled from storms that flung boulders around like rubber balls. In 1895, they were stranded and starving. They even had to eat their dogs. In 1898, Peary lost his toes to frostbite. But still they wouldn’t give up!