Born On This Day ~ March 21 ~ Henry Ossian Flipper ~ First African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877.

Born: March 21, 1856 (Thomasville, Georgia)
Died: April 26, 1940 (Atlanta, Georgia)

Famous For/Known For: First African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1877.

A Little About Henry Ossian Flipper: Born to slave parents who were emancipated, Festus and Isabella Flipper

Flipper attended the American Missionary Association for his schooling. He then went on to Atlanta University for a year.

In 1873, Flipper became the fifth African American who was appointed to West Point, a four year Army service academy. Unlike other African Americans, Flipper somehow managed to endure the hostility aimed at him.

In 1877, he was the first African American to graduate from this military school.

In 1878, Flipper wrote a book about his experiences at West Point, The Colored Cadet at West Point.

In 1881, while stationed at Ft. Davis, Texas, Flipper was framed by white officers and charged with embezzlement. Although he was found not guilty of the crime, he was found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and dishonorably discharged in 1882.

After his death family members continued to fight Flipper’s unfair dishonorable discharge. In 1976 their efforts paid off and the Department of the Army granted Flipper an honorable discharge.

Also in 1976 a bust of Flipper was unveiled on the campus of West Point.

In 1999, President Bill Clinton granted a full pardon for Flipper since it had finally been acknowledged that he had been framed.

Henry Ossian Flipper died from a heart attack at the age of 84.

Books About/Written By Henry Ossian Flipper:

Henry Ossian Flipper: West Point’s First Black Graduate

The Colored Cadet At West Point

Henry Ossian Flipper: First Among Equals

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