|BBC Radio 4, 2001. Presented
by Colin Salmon, Written and Produced by Pam Fraser Solomon.
the Glory is about Matthew Henson, his achievements as an arctic explorer and
his struggle to gain recognition against a background of racism at its
most vulgar that continues to this day. Matthew Henson and four Inuit
- Ootah, Egingwah, Ooqueah and Seeglo, stood with Peary at the North
Pole on April 6th 1909. For Henson & Peary attaining the North Pole
had been a goal, driving them for 18 years and a prize every nation
returning to America they met with scenes of mass adulation for Dr.
Cook, who falsely claimed to have reached the Pole first. This confusion
over the two claims only took a few months to resolve; though people
wanted to believe Cook, the mountain of evidence against him revealed
fraud that could not be ignored. After the humiliation of Cook stealing
their thunder, Peary, Henson and the other explorers fully expected
justice to be done. Instead of recognition and reward they became victims
of a new controversy. A single, racist question, originally posed by
Cook's supporters, has been repeated even in the most recent publications
on the 1909 North Pole expedition.
"Why did you send all your white men back to land
and take the Negro Henson to the pole?"
and for all time, Henson was dismissed as not being a "credible
witness' because of the color of his skin. The burden of proof lay with
Peary and Peary alone.
was then and still is considered the only witness to the final 133 nautical
miles of the journey to the Pole. Peary was interrogated by America's
Congress and made to produce more and more evidence to support his claim. Finally
he and the white members of the expedition were honored but Matthew
Henson had to be sacrificed. His contribution to the expedition was
did not stay forgotten. He was a legend in Greenland and
Scandinavia. He became a much loved icon to Black America and was a
popular member in the exclusive New York Explorers Club. For
contemporary writers attempting to continue the North Pole controversy
Henson is a frustrating figure, an individual of genuine integrity
getting in the way of the "credible witness' argument; the latest
approach to the debate is simply to ignore Henson, white washing him out
of history. The problem is that in trying to revise history one cannot
remove Matthew Henson from arctic exploration. No one can erase memories
of the deep understanding that developed between the Inuit people and
the man they named 'Mahri-Pahluk,' 'Mathew-the Kind One.'
The Conquest of the North Pole
3rd January 2001, BBC Radio 4
authority on Henson
Douglas R. Davies
Navigation & North Pole expert
Arctic Sledding expert
Great Niece of Henson
Great grandson of Robert E. Peary
Olive Henson Fulton
Great Nice of Henson
Pompous, anti-Henson British twit.
|Why did Pam Fraser Solomon produce
What is this? Why is this?
It is a reasonable question for any American to ask "What is
this radio program all about?! Why are the British apparently
anti-Peary and think Henson was his "servant", and "not a
Scott died at the South Pole
|What the...? Good questions. In a nutshell:
British author Wally Herbert, long dead polar hoaxer Fred
Cook, and money from Cook's vindictive daughter created
a sensational book back in the 1980s
"Noose of Laurels".
Herbert's dramatized mass of innuendo was an act of calumny. A
clever attempt to discredit Peary as first to the North Pole in
order to make Herbert's visit there in 1969 as "the first." It was hailed
in Britain as
"proof" that Peary had not reached the North Pole. Crazy you
say? Yes, but then you have to understand an even weirder
situation about the English hero Scott who died, along with his
team, in his ill planned attempt to race Amundsen to the South
Pole. This was all back in 1913.
Huh? Well, the English figured that if Peary had not discovered
the North Pole then their hero, upper class Scott, would have
done so. Instead Scott died horribly at the South Pole - a place
Peary declared easy to reach since it was on land, unlike the
treacherous North Pole over 400 miles from shore. Scott rejected
Peary's use of the arctic husky as a motive force saying "dog
is man's best friend...and should never be used for such
purposes." So Scott made his men the dogs until they died,
freezing and starving, from the exhausting effort. Amundsen used
Peary's methods, with dogs, and easily jaunted to the South Pole
victory and safely returned. This made the English look like
fools. They wrote Amundsen out of their history books. Later
Cook, Hall and England's own Gordon Hayes would fuel
them with anti-Peary vitriol...well you see
where this ends up.
Career criminal Fred Cook made a living on
vaudeville circuit with his anti-Peary "and his wealthy
backers" show that was condemned as a "perversion of history" by
Congressman Fess in 1915. Cook reprinted his phony "I discovered
the North Pole" book to 60,000 copies as he sold them from coast
to coast in his show. Remember; this is before the age of TV,
the Internet and even broadcast radio!
Cook's vitriolic antics
made their way to a weak minded
individual named Thomas Hall - a fool of such magnitude his
armchair conspiracy theory book is a classic in blunt skull
stupidity. Nevertheless English Cleric J. Gordon Hayes took the
rugby ball and ran with it! He inflamed the conspiracy in his
own mind with a book as ridiculous as Halls.
Yet Hall's 1929 "Peary was a faker" slept on library shelves all
over England to be rediscovered by "researchers" in later years.
And thus the legend of "Peary and his wealthy backers" was born.
Wally Herbert revised all this in a skillful tale that simply
reformatted Cook's old vaudeville show. But Herbert went over
the top with one last act of fraud - he claimed that he read
Peary's "secret North Pole Diary" (a rare document secured in a
vault at the Library of Congress) that proved Peary was a fraud.
Are you still with me?
Herbert was a jolly good chap in the UK so the Queen knighted
the 5 foot tall shrimp. The majority of the populace in the
United Kingdom believed Herbert had "proved" Peary a fake. But
that arrogance on their side of the pond inflamed historians in
the USA. I was one of them. My father wrote Matthew Henson's
biography Dark Companion. As my contribution to this situation I
obtained a microfilm from the Library of Congress. Using
Photoshop the images of each and every single page of
Diary was posted on the Internet with a text transcript by
polar expert Douglas Davies.
The upshot of all this?
Peary's diary proves Wally Herbert lied. Herbert cannot ever sue
me for libel over this because I am stating fact. Wally Herbert
pulled a fast one on the public because no copy of the Peary
Diary existed at the time of his book. No one could refute his
"discovery" until Doug Davies and myself brought the facts to
the light of the world to see.
Cook's vaudeville show that "perverted American history"
was brilliantly exposed by Fess in 1915. I restored this
rare document that has to be the best revelation of the
creepy things Cook did after the world rejected him as a
fraud. It is my honor to keep
this transcription on the Internet for the enlightenment
And so Pam Fraser Solomon...
Offended at the racism in the UK that declared Henson "just
Peary's servant", and invalidated by Wally Herbert's
thoughtless repetition of Cook's old line "Henson was
not a reliable witness"...she made "Stealing the
Glory" for the people of the UK. In another sense her
excellent work is a tribute to Henson, and the
equivalent of a Master's Degree Thesis in Black History.
Bravo! Well done Ms Solomon.
|Career criminal Fred Cook sold
copies of this
anti-Peary book year after year on the American
Wally Herbert weasled Cook's daughter as
a potential source of funds for his North Pole
Their letters of correspondence reveal Herbert
was groveling to her for money and was all too
happy to put in a good word for her father at
the expense of Peary & Henson.
|Hall was entranced with Cook and wrote this
incredibly stupid "armchair expert" anti-Peary
work that was a re-write of Cook's book.
|English Cleric Hayes read Hall and thought
he discovered fire. An equally inept armchair
expert Hayes wrote his own version of Cook and
Hall's absurd works.
2009 Bradley Robinson.