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Matthew Henson


Henson was the first African American Arctic explorer. He was born to sharecroppers in Nanjemoy, Maryland on August 8,1966. After the death of both of his parents, he became a cabin boy on a merchant ship under the direction of Captain Childs. He was only 12 years old. Henson would sail around the world with Childs for the next several years. During this time he became a self-taught and skilled navigator. In 1887, Henson met Commander Robert E. Peary. Peary recruited him as an aide on his voyage to Nicaragua. Henson became the "first man" in his expeditions. He spent over 18 years in expeditions with Peary. He and Peary along with their teams reached to " Farthest-North" point of any Arctic expedition. Many of Henson's contributions were largely ignored, however presidents Truman and Eisenhower would both go on to honor him before his death. Henson died on March 9, 1955.

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