Henry O. Flipper

Flipper

Born into slavery before the Civil War, Henry Ossian Flipper was the first Negro to graduate from West Point, and to command regular troops in the U.S. Army. He served as an engineer and quartermaster at Fort Still and Fort Davis. At Fort Davis, he commanded a unit of the 10th Cavalry. In a dismissal he contested and blamed on racism, he received a dishonorable discharge from the Army. Over the years, he and his associates argued that the action of the Army was unjustified and biased. After his dismissal, Flipper worked as a civil engineer in Texas and Mexico. He served as an assistant to the Secretary of Interior on issues with Mexico. In 1999, Flipper was officially pardoned by the U.S. Government. Today his bust is on display at West Point, and an annual West Point award for leadership at the Academy is named in his honor.