Stealing The Glory

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Hear the facts from the relatives and experts
Paul Landry, Dr. Counter, Douglas R. Davies, Audrey Mebane, Olive Henson, Bert Peary Stafford

On November 28th 2000 the National Geographic Society posthumously awarded the Hubbard Medal to Black explorer Matthew Henson. Only thirty-three others have every received this prestigious award including; Sir Earnest Shackelton, Neil Armstrong, Jane Goodall, and Robert E. Peary. The President of the National Geographic Society said, "this honor is long overdue."

The Henson Interviews are 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 Inuits - 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 wanted.

On 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?" Immediately, 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.

Peary 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 conveniently forgotten.

Henson 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.'

"To the Eskimos, who loved him, Matt was the greatest of all the men who came from the distant Land of the South"
Peter Freuchen

"Matthew Henson... stood beside his commander because he was more experienced and, therefore, more valuable to Peary than any one of us."
Rear Admiral Donald B. MacMillian

Stealing The Glory
Research assistance from Widget Magic
Matthew Henson, Arctic explorer

Contributors
Allen Counter
Harvard Professor,
Leading authority on Henson

Douglas R. Davies
Navigation expert


Paul Landry
Arctic Sledding expert

Audrey Mebane
Great Niece of Henson

Bert Peary-Stafford
Great grandson of Robert E. Peary

Olive Henson Fulton
Great Nice of Henson

Ranulph Fiennes (ex-South African) 
Man-hauling aficionado who never
achieved the North Pole on foot despite 6
attempts, yet thinks he is
qualified to say Henson could not
have done it with dog teams.

Copyrightę 2001 Bradley robinson