Peary was born on May 6, 1856 in Cresson, Pennsylvania. He entered the U.S. Navy in 1881 and was there until he retired.
Henson was born on August 8, 1866 in Charles County, Maryland. He was orphaned at the age of 12. He ran away as a cabin boy on the ship Katie Hines. Henson met Peary while working in a store in Washington D.C. Peary invited Henson to accompany him on his exploration of Nicaragua in 1888. From that point on they would be partners in many historical explorations.
One of their first expeditions was when they traveled to the interior of Greenland in 1886. Peary led an expedition in 1891 to Northern Greenland. On this trip Peary proved that Greenland was an island. Through these expeditions Henson was his personal assistant and dog driver.
In 1898 the two, along with others, traveled on the ship The Windward to discover the North Pole. After four years they did not reach the pole.
In 1905 they tried again on The Roosevelt, a ship designed to sail among masses of moving ice. Hardships forced the party to go back after coming within 200 miles south of the pole.
In 1908 Peary and Henson set out over ice from Ellesmere Island. On April 6, 1909 they finally reached the North Pole. Robert Peary and Matthew Henson were accompanied by four Eskimos. It is said that Peary had to rest three miles from the pole making Henson the first American to reach the North Pole.
Trips to the North and South Pole have been done pretty often in recent times. There's even a whole command base near the South Pole. Robert Peary helped to open up the world to the coldest places on Earth while Matthew Henson became the first African-American to reach the North Pole.
The North Pole, also known as the Geographic North Pole or Terrestrial North Pole, is, subject to the caveats explained below, defined as the point in the Northern Hemisphere where the Earth's axis of rotation meets its surface. It should not be confused with the North Magnetic Pole.
The North Pole is the northernmost point on the Earth, lying diametrically opposite the South Pole. It defines geodetic latitude 90° North, as well as the direction of true north. At the North Pole all directions point south; all lines of longitude converge there, so its longitude can be defined as any degree value.
While the South Pole lies on a continental land mass, the North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amid waters that are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice. This makes it impractical to construct a permanent station at the North Pole (unlike the South Pole). However, the Soviet Union, and later Russia, constructed a number of manned drifting stations on a generally annual basis since 1937, some of which have passed over or very close to the Pole. Since 2002, the Russians have also annually established a base, Barneo, close to the Pole. This operates for a few weeks during early spring. Studies in the 2000s predicted that the North Pole may become seasonally ice-free due to Arctic ice shrinkage, with timescales varying from 2016 to the late 21st century or later.
The sea depth at the North Pole has been measured at 4,261 m (13,980 ft) by the Russian Mir submersible in 2007 and at 4,087 m (13,410 ft) by USS Nautilus in 1958. The nearest land is usually said to be Kaffeklubben Island, off the northern coast of Greenland about 700 km (430 mi) away, though some perhaps non-permanent gravel banks lie slightly closer. The nearest permanently inhabited place is Alert in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada, which is located 817 km (508 mi) from the Pole.