Military Leader (1856–1940)
Henry Ossian Flipper
March 21, 1856
May 3, 1940
United States Military Academy at West Point
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Henry O. Flipper
Henry Ossian Flipper
DEATH, HONORABLE DISCHARGE AND LEGACY
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Henry Ossian Flipper was the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. As second lieutenant with the 10th Cavalry, he was framed for embezzlement.
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Henry Ossian Flipper was born on March 21, 1856, in Thomasville, Georgia. In 1877, Flipper became the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. From 1878 to 1880, he served as a second lieutenant with the 10th Cavalry. In 1881, Flipper's commanding officer accused him of embezzlement. He was acquitted, but was dishonorably discharged in 1882. Flipper died on May 3, 1940, in Atlanta, Georgia. Decades later, in 1976, it was revealed that officers had framed him.
African-American military leader Henry Ossian Flipper was born on March 21, 1856, in Thomasville, Georgia. Flipper attended Atlanta University where he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Though he was not the first African-American attendee at the school, he became the first black person to graduate in 1877. After he graduated, Flipper wrote Colored Cadet at West Point in 1878.
Following his graduation, Flipper received his commission as second lieutenant, and became the first black officer in the U.S. Army. In 1878, he was assigned to the Black 10th Cavalry Regiment. In November 1881, in an apparent racial incident, he was accused by his white commanding officer of embezzling funds. Although he was acquitted of the charges, he was dishonorably discharged in 1882.
Death, Honorable Discharge and Legacy
Flipper tried unsuccessfully to vindicate himself for many years thereafter. He died on May 3, 1940, in Atlanta, Georgia. Thirty-six years after his death, in 1976, it was revealed that officers had framed him. President Bill Clinton posthumously granted Flipper an honorable discharge in 1999, and on the 100th anniversary of his graduation, West Point unveiled a bust to honor the former graduate.