This Day in History: 1856-03-31

Henry Ossian Flipper, an American soldier, engineer, former slave, the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and author who wrote about scientific topics and his life experiences, is born. After his commissioning, Flipper was assigned to one of the all-black regiments in the U.S. Army, which were historically led by white officers. Assigned to ‘A’ Troop, he became the first nonwhite officer to lead buffalo soldiers of the 10th Cavalry. Flipper served with competency and distinction during the Apache Wars and the Victorio Campaign. Nonetheless, his military career was cut short by racism. Eventually, he was set up, court-martialed, and dismissed from the U.S. Army. Subsequently, Flipper built a successful career as a civil engineer, advisor to a US Senator, and assistant to the US Secretary of the Interior. In 1994, Flipper’s court-martial was reviewed, found to be unjust, and Flipper was posthumously pardoned. Learn more.