Henry Ossian Flipper, born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1856, turns into the primary African American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York on June 14, 1877.
The United States Military Academy—the primary navy college in America—was based by Congress in 1802 for the aim of teaching and coaching younger males within the concept and follow of navy science. Established at West Point, New York, the U.S. Military Academy is commonly merely often known as West Point.
In 1870, the primary African American cadet, James Webster Smith, was admitted to West Point however by no means reached the commencement ceremonies. It was not till 1877 that Henry Ossian Flipper turned the primary black cadet to graduate.
Flipper was born to enslaved dad and mom however got here of age in Atlanta throughout Reconstruction. He was educated at American Missionary Association colleges and Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). In 1873, he was appointed to West Point. As he later wrote in his 1878 autobiography, The Colored Cadet at West Point, he was socially ostracized by white friends and professors throughout his 4 years there.
After commencement, Flipper was appointed to function second lieutenant within the all-African American 10th Cavalry and stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. The Ninth and 10th Cavalry had been regiments of black enlisted males who turned often known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
While at Fort Sill, Flipper negotiated with native Native American tribes and supervised a number of engineering initiatives, together with the constructing of roads and telegraph traces. A drainage system he designed turned often known as “Flipper’s Ditch” and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
In 1881, he was accused of stealing over $3,000 in commissary funds and relieved of obligation. Though a court-martial discovered him not responsible of embezzlement, he was dishonorably discharged for “unbecoming conduct” in 1882.
Flipper went on to a distinguished profession as a civilian engineer and surveyor, and later served in Washington, D.C. as a marketing consultant on Mexican relations. Flipper maintained his innocence all through his later years and fought to clear his title. He died on May 3, 1940, in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1976, the Army upgraded his discharge to honorable. And in 1999, President Bill Clinton granted Flipper a posthumous pardon, saying, “Henry Flipper did all his country asked him to do.”
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