An editorial by Bradley Robinson
Is this hate literature?
Or a deliberate attempt
to destroy an African American hero?
|Bryce never knew Henson or anyone who did.
The librarian set
out to write a biography of the criminal who ruined the achievements
of Henson & Peary, and claims that he "...has been a scholar of the
subject for more than twenty-five years...". Yet he never
interviewed any primary source, and never interviewed any of the Peary
or Henson descendants. Bryce failed to interview Henson's
biographer who wrote Dark Companion with Matt.
In fact, the librarian seems to prefer only non-living sources of
information from the diaries of disgruntled Peary employees or
He dismisses Matt's official biography as "fiction", and Henson as
a liar and braggart. If that isn't racist, then I don't know what
If Vehoeff, who referred to Henson as "the nigger", wrote
Matt's date of birth incorrectly as 1869 instead of 1866 Bryce
interprets that as meaning Henson didn't know when he
was born. Whoa!
||Self proclaimed "polar
authority", in fact only a librarian, Bryce argues that Henson was barely literate. His evidence
for this? He cites an 1891 Christmas event when the
men were given books as presents. Matt was given a harmonica. To
librarian Bryce this is evidence that Henson couldn't read. Then what is Matt doing here
(right) in this photo taken the same year? Is he reading the instruction manual for his
I knew this photo existed, but what about all the people
who read Bryce's remarks and never see this photo? It is
obvious, to me, that Bryce goes far out of his way to find
every little bit of dirt to throw at Henson in an effort to
muddy his legendary status. Does that
strike you as a bizarre thing to do?
(left) Henson was listed as an assistant in
Peary's 2-volume Northward Over The Great Ice. Other
member shown are all from the 1891-92 expedition.
Bryce uses Henson put-down by known bigot
Bryce concludes his "bully pulpit" attack on Henson
throwing in a quote from Marie Stafford "there was
nothing exceptional about Henson". In fact, there was only one
thing exceptional about Marie Stafford, (aside from the fact
that she was not a witness on any of the North Pole
expeditions and therefore her opinion on Henson has no
bearing) Marie Peary-Stafford was a bigot.
In fact she was known for her disdain of Negroes
and of Eskimos, too, by the way. Her husband, a Stafford,
taught law school at Washington's Howard University, an all black
college. Peary's grandson told me that she used to complain
when he came home that "You smell like those Negroes you
teach." When he said "Marie, they are just as good as you and
I are." Marie retorted in her characteristic manner "They may
be just as good as you are!" I offer this not to
embarrass the Peary family, but leave you with a factual
explanation to put this in a proper context.
Ask yourself, is this "hate literature"? I do not
know how else to categorize it. Bryce deliberately used
comments from a known racist simply to "put down" Henson.
A "bully pulpit" introduction
by Bradley Robinson
Junior college librarian Robert Bryce first
made slurs about Matthew Henson in his anti-Peary/anti-Henson book
Cook & Peary (1997). This pretentiously title work is actually
about the career criminal,
who committed fraud claiming to have reached the North Pole before
Henson & Peary.
In 2000 junior college
librarian Bob Bryce reprinted Peary's 1910 book The North Pole
(now in public domain) with his own long winded "introduction".
Bryce used Peary's own book as his platform to lay out the same
tired old anti-Peary/anti-Henson slander.
The "New" 38 page introduction by a junior
college librarian from Maryland presents every negative slur or
bit of gossip dredged up from known racists & bigots. Dedrick, who
Peary accused of megalomania, molesting Eskimo girls, and who
apparently hated Henson has been declared a racist by Dr. Counter
- yet Bryce uses Dedrick's account of an event as "truth" and Matt
Henson's account as "false". From this Bryce decides that
everything Henson said was so false that his biography, Dark
Companion, is a fantasy. This "new" introduction is merely
comprised of recycled, negative spin material from
COOK & PEARY.
Bryce dominates this "new edition" of Matt's classic
1912 book, which is public domain. There was no imperative
to publish this. There were already two other excellent editions
on the market. Who needs a third?
Bryce burdens Matt's book with an incredibly nasty,
long winded, 38-page "introduction" of put downs recycled from Cook &
Peary. These were selected from diaries of men who were jealous of
Matt, from known bigots and racists, etc. I view it as Bryce's
"bully pulpit" to attack both Peary and Henson. Bryce wants readers to
know he believes Henson was too ignorant to write his own book. He
further claims that Henson inflated his importance so that his
official biography, written with Henson in 1947, is a work of fiction
and a useless fantasy. That is a disgusting thing to say about
Bradley Robinson, January, 2002
Bradley is the son of Bradley Robinson who wrote, with Matthew Henson in
1947, the only official Henson biography;
Dark Companion. Bradley's father knew Henson intimately, knew his
Polar team mate and friend Donald MacMillan, Peter Freuchen, and other
famous Arctic men who spoke highly of Henson. Bradley is a friend of the
Robert E. Peary family, the Greenland Henson families, Admiral Davies
son Douglas R. Davies, and contemporary Arctic legend Paul Landry.