The conquest of the North Pole was an elusive, almost impossible goal at the beginning of the last century. But a son of patrician parents, Robert E. Peary, and a son of sharecroppers, Matthew Henson, shared a dream of conquering the North Pole and were brave enough to risk their lives numerous times before they finally succeeded.
Henson's great physical stamina and his ability to speak Inuit and develop relationships with Arctic peoples were indispensable to the quest. He mastered the complexities of the dog sled and led the team across the layers of ice that covered the frigid, threatening Arctic Ocean. Henson and Peary's jubilation at finally reaching the Pole was later dashed when controversy swirled around their achievement. Once their deed was recognized, it was still decades before African-American Henson was hailed a hero of exploration.