Profile: African-American North Pole Explorer Matthew Henson

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Clouds obscured the sun, preventing a coordinate reading. As Henson slept, Peary caught a glimpse of the sun through breaking clouds. His coordinates indicated they were only three miles (five kilometers) from the Pole. Henson lay sleeping while Peary set off to cover the distance, but without longitudinal coordinates, he could not know which direction to travel.

Henson later wrote, "From the time we knew we were at the Pole, Commander Peary scarcely spoke to me … It nearly broke my heart … that he would rise in the morning and slip away on the homeward trail without rapping on the ice for me, as was the established custom."

In 1988, Matthew Henson and his wife were reinterred at the Arlington National Cemetery alongside Peary. In 1996 an oceanographic survey ship, called the U.S.N.S Henson was commissioned in Henson's honor.

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