Tuesday, June 15, 2010
First African American West Pointer
Henry Ossian Flipper was the first African American to receive a commission from West Point on June 15th 1877.
Henry Ossian Flipper was born a slave March 21st 1856 to Festus and Isabella Flipper in Thomasville Georgia. Following the Civil War he received an education from the American Missionary Association, and then attended the Atlanta University. In 1873 Flipper was the fifth African American to get an appointment to West Point thanks to Representative James C Freeman. He was however the first African American to endure the hostilies of his fellow white cadets, graduate and receives a commission June 15th 1877. Flipper was an officer in the 10th US Cavalry, known as the Buffalo Soldiers. He served in west at Fort Elliott,
Concho, Sill and others during the campaign against the Apache Indians.
While Flipper was stationed at Fort Davis Texas in 1881, white officers framed with charges of embezzlement. He was court-martialed and although he was not found guilty of the embezzlement, he was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." He was dishonorably discharged from the military.
Flipper went on to distinguish himself in civilian life as an engineer, land surveyor and for the US Government settling land claims in the Southwest. He even worked in Mexico from 1901 to 1912 as a mining engineer. He would also help the US Government during the Mexican Revolution, serve for a short time as the assistant secretary of the interior, and work for a petroleum company in Venezuela. Flipper retired in 1931 and moved back to Atlanta to live with a brother. He died on May 3rd 1940 from a heart attack.
Another very good web site about this subject
First Black Graduate of West Point