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Matthew Henson was the explorer who accompanied Robert E. Peary on his expeditions, including his 1909 journey to the North Pole.
Henson was born on August 8, 1966, and he was orphaned when he was just a young boy. At age 12, he went to sea as the cabin boy on the vessel the "Katie Hines." While working in D.C., Henson's employer introduced him to Peary, who then employed Henson on his 1888 mission to Nicaragua. Henson accompanied Peary on his next seven voyages to the Arctic as well. On April 6, 1909, Henson, Peary, and four Eskimos became the first men to reach the North Pole.
In 1912, Henson wrote A Negro Explorer at the North Pole, a book that tells about his experiences on his journey. In 1913, he was appointed clerk in the U.S. Customs House in New York City by President Taft. He retired in 1936, and, in 1944, he was awarded the Congressional Medal given to all of the members of the 1909 expedition. Henson died in New York City on March 9, 1955.
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