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Henry Ossian Flipper, The Colored Cadet at West Point by Henry Ossian Flipper

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provided with a pillow. They take their places in the
middle of the company street, and at a given signal
commence pounding each other. A crowd assembles from
all parts of camp to witness the "pillow fight," as it
is called. Sometimes, also, after fighting awhile, the
combatants are permitted to rest, and another set
continues the fight.

On one of these occasions, after fighting quite a
while, a pillow bursted, and one of the antagonists
was literally buried in feathers. At this a shout of
laughter arose and the fun was complete. But alas for
such pleasures! An officer in his tent, disturbed by
the noise, came out to find its cause. He saw it at a
glance, aided no doubt by vivid recollections of his
own experience in his plebe camp. He called an orderly
and sent for the cadet captain of the company. When he
came he was ordered to send the plebes--he said new
cadets--to their tents, and order them to remain there
till permission was given to leave them. He then had
every man, not a plebe, who had been present at the
pillow fight turned out. When this was done he ordered
them to pick up every feather within half an hour, and
the captain to inspect at the end of that time and to
see that the order was obeyed. Thus, therefore, the
plebes got the better part of the joke.

It was rumored in camp one day that the superintendent
and commandant were both absent from the post, and that
the senior tactical officer was therefore acting
superintendent. A plebe sentinel on Post No. 1, seeing
him approaching camp, and not knowing under the
circumstances how to act, or rather, perhaps, I should
say, not knowing whether the report was true or not,
called a corporal, and asked if he should salute this
officer with "present arms." To this question that
dignitary replied with righteous horror, "Salute him
with present arms! No, sir! You stand at attention, and
when he gets on your post shout, 'Hosannah to the supe!'
This rather startled the plebe, who found himself more
confused than ever. When it was about time for the
sentinel to do something the corporal told him what to
do, and returned to the guard tents. The officer was at
the time the commanding officer of the camp.

While walking down Sixth Avenue, New York, with a
young lady, on a beautiful Sabbath afternoon in the
summer of 1875, I was paid a high compliment by an
old colored soldier. He had lost one leg and had been
otherwise maimed for life in the great struggle of
1861-65 for the preservation of the Union. As soon
as he saw me approaching he moved to the outside of
the pavement and assumed as well as possible the
position of the soldier. When I was about six paces
from him he brought his crutch to the position of
"present arms," in a soldierly manner, in salute to
me. I raised my cap as I passed, endeavoring to be as
polite as possible, both in return for his salute and
because of his age. He took the position of "carry
arms," saying as he did so, "That's right! that's
right! Makes me glad to see it."

We passed on, while he, too, resumed his course,
ejaculating something about "good-breeding," etc.,
all of which we did not hear.

Upon inquiry I learned, as stated, that he had served
in the Federal army. He had given his time and energy,
even at the risk of his life, to his country. He had
lost one limb, and been maimed otherwise for life. I
considered the salute for that reason a greater honor.

During the summer of 1873 a number of cadets, who were
on furlough, visited Mammoth Cave. While there they
noticed on the wall, written in pencil, the name of an
officer who was an instructor in Spanish at West Point.
One of them took occasion to add to the inscription the
following bit of information:

"Known at the U. S. Military Academy as the 'Spanish

A number of cadets accosted a plebe, who had just
reported in May, 1874, and the following conversation

"Well, mister, what's your name?"

"John Walden."

"Sir!" yelled rather than spoken.

"John Walden."

"Well, sir, I want to see you put a 'sir' on it,"
with another yell.

"Sir John Walden," was the unconcerned rejoinder.

Now it was not expected that the "sir" would be put
before the name after the manner of a title, but this
impenetrable plebe put it there, and in so solemn and
"don't-care" a manner that the cadets turned away in
a roar of laughter.

Ever afterward he was known in the corps as "Sir John."

Another incident, even more laughable perhaps than
the preceding, occurred between a cadet and plebe,
which doubtless saved the plebe from further hazing.
Approaching him with a look of utter contempt on his
face, the cadet asked him:

"Well, thing, what's your name?"

"Wilreni, sir," meekly responded he.

"Wilreni, sir!" repeated the cadet slowly, and bowing
his head he seemed for a moment buried in profoundest
thought. Suddenly brightening up, he rejoined in the
most unconcerned manner possible: "Oh! yes, yes, I
remember now. You are Will Reni, the son of old man
Bill Reni," put particular stress on "Will" and "Bill."

I think, though, the most laughable incident that has
come under my notice was that of a certain plebe who
made himself famous for gourmandizing.

Each night throughout the summer encampment, the
guard is supplied from the mess hall with an
abundance of sandwiches. The old cadets rarely eat
them, but to the plebes, as yet unaccustomed to guard
duty, they are quite a treat.

On one occasion when the sandwiches were unusually
well prepared, and therefore unusually inviting, it
was desirable to preserve them till late in the night,
till after the guard had been turned out and inspected
by the officer of the day. They were accordingly--to
conceal them from the plebes--transferred, with the
vessel containing them, to one of the chests of a
caisson of the light battery, just in front of camp in
park. Here they were supposed to be safe. But alas for
such safety! At an hour not far advanced into the night,
two plebes, led by an unerring instinctiveness,
discovered the hiding-place of the sandwiches and
devoured them all.

Now when the hour of feasting was come, a corporal was
dispatched for the dainty dish, when, lo, and behold!
it had vanished. The plebes--for who else could thus
have secretly devoured them--were brought to account
and the guilty ones discovered. They were severely
censured in that contemptuous manner in which only a
cadet, an upper classman, can censure a plebe, and
threatened with hazing and all sorts of unpleasantness.

Next morning they were called forth and marched
ingloriously to the presence of the commandant.
Upon learning the object of the visit he turned
to the chief criminal--the finder of the sandwiches
--and asked him, "Why did you eat all the sandwiches,
Mr. S--?"

"I didn't eat them all up, sir. I ate only fifteen,"
was his ready reply.

The gravity of the occasion, coupled with the enormity
of the feast, was too much, and the commandant turned
away his head to conceal the laughter he could not
withhold. The plebe himself was rather short and fleshy,
and the picture of mirth. Indeed to see him walking even
along the company street was enough to call forth laughter
either at him as he waddled along or at the humorous
remarks the act called forth from onlooking cadets.

He was confined to one of the guard tents by order of
the commandant, and directed by him to submit a written
explanation for eating all the sandwiches of the guard.
The explanation was unsatisfactory, and the gentleman
received some other light punishment, the nature of
which has at this late day escaped my memory.

The other plebe, being only a particeps criminis, was
not so severely punished. A reprimand, I think, was
the extent of his punishment.

The two gentlemen have long since gone where the
"woodbine twineth"--that is, been found deficient
in studies and dismissed.

There was a cadet in the corps who had a wonderful
propensity for using the word "mighty."

With him everything was "mighty." I honestly do not
believe I ever heard him conversing when he did not
use "mighty."

Speaking of me one day, and unconscious of my presence,
he said, "I tell you he does 'mighty' well."

During drill at the siege battery on the 25th of April,
1876, an accident occurred which came near proving fatal
to one of us. I had myself just fired an 8-inch howitzer,
and gone to the rear to observe the effect of the other
shots. One piece had been fired, and the command for the
next to fire had been given. I was watching intently the
target when I was startled by the cry of some one near
me, "Look out! look out!" I turned my eyes instinctively
toward the piece just fired, but saw only smoke. I then
looked up and saw a huge black body of some kind moving
rapidly over our heads. It was not until the smoke had
nearly disappeared that I knew what was the cause of the
disturbance. A number of cannoneers and our instructor
were vociferously asking, "Anybody hurt? Anybody hurt?"
We all moved up to the piece, and, finding no one was
injured, examined it. The piece, a 41/2-inch rifle,
mounted on a siege carriage, had broken obliquely from
the trunnions downward and to the rear. The re-enforce
thus severed from the chase broke into three parts, the
nob of the cascabel, and the other portion split in the
direction of the bore. The right half of the re-enforce,
together with the nob of the cascabel, were projected
into the air, describing a curve over our heads, and
falling at about twenty feet from the right of the
battery, having passed over a horizontal distance of
about sixty or seventy feet. The left half was thrown
obliquely to the ground, tearing away in its passage
the left cheek of the carriage, and breaking the left
trunnion plate. A cannoneer was standing on the platform
of the next piece on the left with the lanyard in his
hand. His feet were on two adjacent deck planks, his
heels being on line with the edge of the platform. These
two planks were struck upon their ends, and moved bodily,
with the cadet upon them, three or four inches from their
proper place. The bolts that held them and the adjacent
planks together were broken, while not the slightest
injury was done the cadet.

It was hardly to be believed, and was not until two or
three of the other cannoneers had examined him and found
him really uninjured. It was simply miraculous. The
instructor sent the cannoneers to the rear, and fired the
next gun himself.

After securing the pieces and replacing equipments, we
were permitted to again examine the bursted gun, after
which the battery was dismissed.

There had been some difficulty in loading the piece,
especially in getting the projectile home. It was
supposed that this not being done properly caused the

I was one summer day enjoying a walk on "Flirtation."
I was alone, and, if I remember aright, "on Old Guard
privileges." Walking leisurely along I soon observed
in front of me a number of young ladies, a servant girl,
and several small children.

They were all busily occupied in gathering wild
flowers, a kind of moss and ferns which grow here
in abundance. I was first seen by one of the children,
a little girl. She instantly fixed her eyes upon me,
and began vociferating in a most joyous manner, "The
colored cadet! the colored cadet! I'm going to tell
mamma I've seen the colored cadet."

The servant girl endeavored to quiet her, but she
continued as gayly as ever:

"It's the colored cadet! I'm going to tell mamma. I'm
going to tell mamma I've seen the colored cadet."

All the others stopped gathering flowers, and watched
me till I was out of sight.

A similar display of astonishment has occurred at every
annual examination since I became a cadet, and on these
occasions the ladies more than anybody else have been
the ones to show it.

Whenever I took my place on the floor to receive my
enunciation or to be questioned, I have observed
whisperings, often audible, and gestures of surprise
among the lady visitors. I have frequently heard such
exclamations as this: "Oh! there's the colored cadet!
there's the colored cadet!"

All of this naturally tended to confuse me, and it was
only by determined effort that I maintained any degree
of coolness. Of course they did not intend to confuse
me. Nothing was, I dare say, further from their thoughts.
But they were women; and it never occurs to a woman to
think before she speaks.

It was rather laughable to hear a cadet, who was
expounding the theory of twilight, say, pointing
to his figure on the blackboard: "If a spectator
should cross this limit of the crepuscular zone
he would enter into final darkness."

Now "final darkness," as we usually understand it,
refers to something having no resemblance whatever
to the characteristics of the crepuscular zone.

The solemn manner in which he spoke it, together
with their true significations, made the circumstance
quite laughable.

The most ludicrous case of hazing I know of is, I
think, the following:

For an unusual display of grossness a number of
plebes were ordered by the cadet lieutenant on
duty over them to report at his "house" at a
specified hour. They duly reported their presence,
and were directed to assume the position of the
soldier, facing the wall until released. After
silently watching them for a considerable time,
the lieutenant, who had a remarkable penchant for
joking, called two of them into the middle of the
room. He caused them to stand dos à dos, at a
distance of about one foot from each other, and
then bursting into a laugh, which he vainly
endeavored to suppress, he commanded, "Second,

Now to execute this movement the hands are extended
vertically over the head and the hands joined. At
the command "Two!" given when this is done, the arms
are brought briskly forward and downward until the
hands touch if possible the ground or floor. The
plebes having gone through the first motion, the
lieutenant thus cautioned them:

"When I say 'Two!' I want to see you men come down
with life, and touch the floor. Two!"

At the command they both quickly, and "with life"
brought their bodies forward and their arms downward;
nay, they but attempted, for scarcely had they left
the vertical ere their bodies collided, and they were
each hurled impetuously, by the inevitable reaction in
opposite directions, over a distance of several feet.

Their bodies being in an inclined position when struck,
and the blow being of great force, they were necessarily
forced still further from the erect attitude, and were
with much difficulty able to keep themselves from falling
outright on the floor. Of course all present, save those
concerned, enjoyed it immensely. Indeed it was enjoyable.
Even the plebes themselves had a hearty laugh over it
when they were dismissed.

Again a cadet lieutenant, who was on duty at the time
over the "Seps," ordered a number of them to report
at his "house" at a given hour. They had been unusually
gross, and he intended to punish them by keeping them
standing in his quarters. They reported, and were put
in position to serve their punishment. For some reason
the lieutenant left the room, when one of the "Seps"
faced to the others and thus spoke to them:

"Say, boys, let's kick up the devil. P--has gone out."

Now it so happened that P--'s chum was present, but in
his alcove, and this was not known to the Seps. When
the Sep had finished speaking, this chum came forth and
"went for" him. He made the Sep assume the soldier's
position, and then commanded, "Second, exercise!" which
command the Sep proceeded to obey.

Another cadet coming in found him vigorously at it, and
queried, "Well, mister, what's all that for?"

"Eccentricity of Mr. M--, sir," he promptly replied.

The word eccentricity was not interpreted by the cadet,
of course, as the Sep meant it should be, but in the
sense we use it when we speak of the eccentricity of
an orbit for instance.

Hence it was that Mr. M--asked, "Well, sir, what's the
expression for my eccentricity?"

There is another incident remotely connected with my
first tour of guard duty which may be mentioned here.

At about eleven o'clock A.M., in obedience to a then
recent order, my junior reported at the observatory
to make the necessary observations for finding the
error of the Tower clock. After an elaborate explanation
by an officer then present upon the graduation of the
vernier and the manner of reading it, the cadet set the
finders so as to read the north polar distance of the
sun for that day at West Point apparent noon. When it
was about time for the sun's limb to begin its transit
of the wires, the cadet took position to observe it. The
instructor was standing ready to record the times of
transit over each wire. Time was rapidly passing, and
not yet had the cadet called out "Ready." The anxious
instructor cautiously queried:

"Do you see any light, Mr. P--?,"

"No, sir."

"Can you see the wires?"

"No, sir, not yet."

"Any light yet, Mr. P--?"

"Yes, sir, it is getting brighter."

"Can you see the wires at all?"

"No, Sir; it keeps getting brighter, but I can't see
the wires yet."

Fearing he might be unable to make his observations
that day unless the difficulty was speedily removed,
the instructor himself took position at the transit,
and made the ridiculous discovery that the cap had
not been removed from the farther end of the telescope,
and yet it kept getting brighter.

One day in the early summer of 1875, a cadet was
showing a young lady the various sights and wonders
at West Point, when they came across an old French
cannon bearing this inscription, viz., "Charles de
Bourbon, Compte d'Eu, ultima ratio regum."

She was the first to notice it, and astonished the
cadet with the following rendition of it:

"I suppose that means Charles Bourbon made the gun,
and the Spanish (?) that the artilleryman must have
his rations."

What innocence! Or shall I say, what ignorance?

"The authorities of West Point have entered an
interdict against the cadets loaning their sashes
and other military adornments to young ladies, and
great is the force of feminine indignation." Summer
of 1873.


A young lieutenant at the Academy and his fiancée
were seen by an old maid at the hotel to kiss each
other. At the first opportunity she reproved the
fair damsel for, to her, such unmaidenly conduct.
With righteous indignation she repelled the reproof
as follows:

"Not let S--kiss me! Why, I should die!" Then lovingly,

"Come kiss me, love, list not what they say,
Their passions are cold, wasted away.
They know not how two hearts like ours are
Long to mingle i' the sweetness o' the kiss,
That like the soft light of a heavenly star,
As it wanders from its world to this,
Diffuses itself through ev'ry vein
And meets on the lips to melt again."



"Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet."

MY four years were drawing to a close. They had been
years of patient endurance and hard and persistent
work, interspersed with bright oases of happiness and
gladness and joy, as well as weary barren wastes of
loneliness, isolation, unhappiness, and melancholy.
I believe I have discharged--I know I have tried to
do so--every duty faithfully and conscientiously.
It had been a sort of bittersweet experience, this
experimental life of mine at West Point. It was almost
over, and whatever of pure sweetness, whatever of
happiness, or whatever reward fortune had in store for
me, was soon to become known.

"Speaking of the Military Academy, we understand that
the only colored cadet now at West Point will not only
graduate at the coming June commencement, but that his
character, acquirements, and standing on the merit roll
are such as will insure his graduation among the highest
of his class."--Harper's Weekly, April 28th, 1877.

All recitations of the graduating class were
discontinued on the last scholar day of May.
On June 1st examination began. The class was
first examined in mineralogy and geology. In
this particular subject I "maxed it," made
a thorough recitation. I was required to discuss
the subject of "Mesozoic Time." After I had been
examined in this subject Bishop Quintard, of
Tennessee, a member of the Board of Visitors,
sent for me, and personally congratulated me on
my recitation of that day, as well as for my
conduct during the whole four years. My hopes
never were higher; I knew I would graduate. I felt
it, and I made one last effort for rank. I wanted
to graduate as high up as possible. I was not
without success, as will subsequently appear. The
New York Herald was pleased to speak as follows
of my recitation in mineralogy and geology:

"To-day the examination of the first class in
mineralogy and geology was completed, and the
first section was partially examined in engineering.
In the former studies the class acquitted themselves
in a highly creditable manner, and several members
have shown themselves possessed of abilities far
above the average. The class has in its ranks a son
of General B. F. Butler, Hon. John Bigelow's son,
and sons of two ex-Confederate officers. Flipper,
the colored cadet, was examined to-day, and produced
a highly favorable impression upon the board not less
by his ready and intelligent recitation than by his
modest, unassuming, and gentlemanly manner. There is
no doubt that he will pass, and he is said to have
already ordered a cavalry uniform, showing that he
has a predilection for that branch of the service."

The class was next examined in law. In this, also, I
exceeded my most sanguine expectations, again "maxing
it" on a thorough recitation. My subject was "Domicile."
Senator Maxey, of the Board of Visitors, questioned me
closely. The Bishop of Tennessee left his seat in the
board, came outside when the section was dismissed, and
shook my hand in hearty congratulation. These were the
proudest moments of my life. Even some of my own
classmates congratulated me on this recitation. All
that loneliness, dreariness, and melancholy of the
four years gone was forgotten. I lived only in the
time being and was happy. I was succeeding, and was
meeting with that success which humble effort never
fails to attain.

The New York Tribune joins in with its good words as


"The examination of the first class in law will be
completed tomorrow. The sections thus far called
up have done very well. The colored cadet, Flipper,
passed uncommonly well this morning, showing a
practical knowledge of the subject very satisfactory
to Senator Maxey, who questioned him closely, and to
the rest of the board. He has a good command of plain
and precise English, and his voice is full and pleasant.
Mr. Flipper will be graduated next week with the respect
of his instructors, and not the less of his fellows, who
have carefully avoided intercourse with him. The quiet
dignity which he has shown during this long isolation of
four years has been really remarkable. Until another of
his race, now in one of the lower classes, arrived,
Flipper scarcely heard the sound of his own voice except
in recitation, and it is to be feared that unless he is
detailed at Howard University, which has been mentioned
as possible, his trials have only begun."

The class was next examined in civil and military
engineering. In this also I did as well as in either
of the other studies. I made a thorough recitation.
I was required to explain what is meant by an "order
of battle," and to illustrate by the battles of Zama,
Pharsalia, and Leuctra.


"Flipper, the colored cadet from South Carolina, was
up this afternoon and acquitted himself remarkably
well. Some time since he was recommended for a higher
grade than the one he holds, and his performance to-day
gained him a still higher standing in the class."

In ordnance and gunnery the class was next examined.
In this I was less successful. I was to assume one of
Captain Didion's equations of the trajectory in air,
and determine the angle of projection represented by
phi, and the range represented by x in the following

y = x tan. phi - gx2/2V2 B,

and to explain the construction and use of certain
tables used in connection with it. I made a fair
recitation, but one by no means satisfactory to myself.
I lost four files on it at least. A good recitation in
ordnance and gunnery would have brought me out forty-
five or six instead of fifty. I did not make it, and it
was too late to better it. This was the last of our
examination. It ended on the 11th day of June. On the
14th we were graduated and received our diplomas.

During the examination I received letters of
congratulation in every mail. Some of them may not
be uninteresting. I give a few of them:

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3, 1877.

MY DEAR MR. FLIPPER: It has been four years since I
last addressed you. Then you had just entered the
Academy with other young colored men, who have since
dropped by the way. I was at that time the editor of
the Era in this city, and wrote an article on West
Point and snobocracy which you may remember reading.

I felt a thrill of pleasure here the other day when I
read your name as the first graduate from the Academy.
I take this opportunity of writing you again to extend
my hearty congratulations, and trust your future career
may be as successful as your academic one. "My boy,"
Whittaker, has, I am told, been rooming with you, and I
trust has been getting much benefit from the association.

I am, your friend and well-wisher,


42 BROAD STREET, NEW YORK, June 4, 1877.

West Point, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR: I have been much pleased reading the
complimentary references to your approaching
graduation which have appeared in the New York
papers the past week. I beg to congratulate you
most heartily, and I sincerely trust that the same
intelligence and pluck which has enabled you to
successfully complete your academic course may be
shown in a still higher degree in the new sphere of
duty soon to be entered upon.

I inclose an editorial from to-day's Tribune.

Respectfully, --.

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 5, 1877.

U. S. Military Academy, West Point, N. Y.

DEAR SIR: Having noticed in the daily papers of
this city an account of the successful termination
of your course at the Military Academy, we hasten
to tender you our sincere congratulations.

We are prompted to this act by an experimental
knowledge of the social ostracism and treacherous
duplicity to which you must have been made the
unhappy victim during the long years of faithful
study through which you have just passed.

We congratulate you upon the moral courage and
untiring energy which must have been yours, to
enable you to successfully battle against the
immeasurable influence of the prejudice shown to
all of us at both of our national schools. We hail
your success as a national acknowledgment, in a new
way, of the mental and moral worth of our race; and
we feel amply repaid for the many privations we have
undergone in the naval branch of our service, in
noting the fact that one of us has been permitted to
successfully stand the trying ordeal.

Trusting that the same firmness of purpose and
untiring energy, which have characterized your stay
there, may ever be true of your future career on the
field and at the hearth side,

We remain, very truly yours, --, --.

Wednesday, June 7, 1877.

MY DEAR FRIEND: Let me extend to you my full gratitude
upon your success at West Point. I was overjoyed when
I saw it. My friends are delighted with you, and they
desire to see you when you come down. Let me know when
you think you will leave West Point, and I will look
out for you.

Very truly yours, -- .

West Point Military Academy.

WASHINGTON, D. C., June 13, 1877.

West Point, N. Y.:

MY DEAR FRIEND: I wish to congratulate you upon
passing successfully your final examination, and
salute you as the first young colored man who has
had the manhood and courage to struggle through and
overcome every obstacle. So many of our young men
had failed that I wondered if you would be able to
withstand all the opposition you met with, whether
you could endure the kind of life they mete out to
our young men at our national Military Academy. I
rejoice to know that you have won this important
victory over prejudice and caste. This will serve
you in good stead through many a conflict in life.
Your path will not be all strewn with roses; something
of that caste and prejudice will still pursue you as
you enter the broader arena of military life, but you
must make up your mind to live it down, and your first
victory will greatly aid you in this direction. One
thing, allow me to impress upon you: you are not
fighting your own battle, but you are fighting the
battle of a struggling people; and for this reason,
my dear Flipper, resolve now in your deepest soul that
come what may you will never surrender; that you will
never succumb. Others may leave the service for more
lucrative pursuits; your duty to your people and to
yourself demand that you remain.

Be assured that whatever you do, wherever you may go,
you always have my deepest sympathy and best wishes.

I return to Europe in a few weeks.

Cordially yours, --.

Even the cadets and other persons connected with
the Academy congratulated me. Oh how happy I was!
I prized these good words of the cadets above all
others. They knew me thoroughly. They meant what
they said, and I felt I was in some sense deserving
of all I received from them by way of congratulation.
Several visited my quarters. They did not hesitate
to speak to me or shake hands with me before each
other or any one else. All signs of ostracism were
gone. All felt as if I was worthy of some regard, and
did not fail to extend it to me.

At length, on June 14th, I received the reward of my
labors, my "sheepskin," the United States Military
Academy Diploma, that glorious passport to honor and
distinction, if the bearer do never disgrace it.

Here is the manner of ceremony we had on that day,
as reported in the New York Times:

"The concluding ceremony in the graduation exercises
at the West Point Academy took place this morning,
when the diplomas were awarded to the graduates. The
ceremony took place in the open air under the shadow
of the maple trees, which form almost a grove in front
of the Academy building. Seats had been arranged here
for the spectators, so as to leave a hollow square,
on one side of which, behind a long table, sat the
various dignitaries who were to take part in the
proceedings. In front of them, seats were arranged
for the graduating class. The cadets formed line in
front of the barracks at 10.30, and, preceded by the
band playing a stirring air, marched to the front of
the Academy building. The first class came without
their arms; the other classes formed a sort of escort
of honor to them. The graduating class having taken
their seats, the other classes stacked arms and
remained standing in line around the square. The
proceedings were opened by an address from Professor
Thompson, of the School of Technology, Worcester Mass.,
who is the Chairman of the Board of Visitors."

And thus after four years of constant work amid many
difficulties did I obtain my reward.

"Lieutenant H. O. Flipper was the only cadet who
received the cheers of the assembled multitude at
West Point upon receiving his parchment. How the
fellows felt who couldn't associate with him we
do not know; but as the old Christian woman said,
they 'couldn't a been on the mountain top.'"
--Christian Recorder.

Victor Hugo says somewhere in his works that he who
drains a marsh must necessarily expect to hear the
frogs croak. I had graduated, and of course the
newspapers had to have a say about it. Some of the
articles are really amusing. I couldn't help laughing
at them when I read them. Here is something from the
New York Herald which is literally true:


"Senator James G. Blaine, with his wife and daughter
and Miss Dodge ('Gail Hamilton') left at noon yesterday
in anticipation of the rush. Before going the Senator
did a very gracious and kindly deed in an unostentatious
way. Sending for Flipper, the colored cadet, he said:

"'I don't know that you have any political friends in
your own State, Mr. Flipper, and you may find it
necessary to have an intermediary in Congress to help
you out of your difficulties. I want you to consider me
your friend, and call upon me for aid when you need it.'

"With that he shook the lad's hand and bade him good-by.

"Bishop Quintard, of Tennessee, and Senator Maxey, of
Texas, also complimented the pioneer graduate of the
colored race upon his conduct throughout the four years
of his training, and proffered their sympathy and
assistance. With these encouragements from prominent
men of both political parties the young man seemed
deeply touched, and thanking them suitably he returned
with a light heart to his quarters."

It was so very kind of the distinguished senators and
bishop. I valued these congratulations almost as much
as my diploma. They were worth working and enduring

The New York Herald again speaks, and that about not
hearing my voice, etc., made me "larf." Here is the


"Flipper, the colored cadet, who graduates pretty
well up in his class, said to me to-day that he is
determined to get into either the Ninth or Tenth
colored cavalry regiment if possible. He seems to
be very happy in view of the honorable close of his
academic career, and entertains little doubt that he
can procure the appointment he wishes. When asked
whether he was not aware that there was a law providing
that even colored troops must be officered by white
men, he replied that he had heard something of that
years ago, but did not think it was true. 'If there is
such a law,' he said emphatically, but with good humor,
'it is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.' He
added that several weeks ago he wrote to a prominent
gentleman in Alabama to inquire what the existing law
on the subject was, and had not yet received an answer.
I questioned him about his experience in the Academy,
And he said that he had suffered but little on account
of his race. The first year was very hard, as the class
all made their dislike manifest in a variety of ways.
'That,' he said, 'was in a great measure caused by the
bad conduct of Smith, the colored cadet who preceded me.
When the class found out that I was not like him, they
treated me well. The professors act toward me in every
respect as toward the others, and the cadets, I think,
do not dislike me. But they don't associate with me. I
don't care for that. If they don't want to speak to me
I don't want them to, I'm sure.' Save in the recitation-
room Flipper never heard the sound of his own voice for
months and months at a time; but he was kept so hard at
work all the time that he did not mind it. If he should
join a regiment, however, he would be more alone even
than he has been here, for the association with other
officers in the line of duty would not be so close as
it has been with the cadets. He would be isolated--
ostracized--and he would feel it more keenly, because he
would have more leisure for social intercourse, and his
mind would not be so occupied as it has been here with

"Senator Blaine, in the course of a conversation last
night, thought the career of Flipper would be to go
South and become a leader of his race. He could in
that way become famous, and could accomplish much good
for the country." . . . .

When I entered the Academy I saw in a paper something
about colored officers being put in white regiments,
etc. It purported to be a conversation with the then
Secretary of War, who said there was such a law, and
that it would be enforced. The then Secretary of War
has since told me he was sure there was such a law,
until to satisfy himself he searched the Revised
Statutes, when he found he was mistaken.

I have mentioned elsewhere the untruthfulness of the
statement that I never heard my own voice except in
The recitation-room. Every one must know that could
not be true. The statement is hardly worth a passing

"If he should join a regiment, however," etc. Ah!
well, I have joined my regiment long ago. Let me
say, before I go further, I am putting this manuscript
in shape for the press, and doing it in my quarters at
Fort Sill, I. T. These remarks are inserted apropos
of this article. From the moment I reached Sill I
haven't experienced any thing but happiness. I am not
isolated. I am not ostracized by a single officer. I do
not "feel it more keenly," because what the Herald said
is not true. The Herald, like other papers, forgets
that the army is officered by men who are presumably
officers and gentlemen. Those who are will treat me as
become gentlemen, as they do, and those who are not I
will thank if they will "ostracize" me, for if they
don't I will certainly "ostracize" them.

"But to get into a cavalry regiment is the highest
ambition of most cadets, and failing in that it is
almost a toss-up between the infantry and the
artillery. Flipper, the South Carolina colored cadet,
wants to get into the cavalry, and as there is a
black regiment of that character he will, it is thought,
be assigned to that. There is in existence a law
specifying that even black regiments shall be officered
by white men, and it is thought there will be some
trouble in assigning Flipper. As any such law is in
opposition to the constitutional amendments, of course
it will be easily rescinded. From the disposition shown
by most of the enlisted men with whom I have conversed
at odd times upon this subject, I fancy that if Flipper
were appointed to the command of white soldiers they
would be restive, and would, if out upon a scout, take
the first opportunity to shoot him; and this feeling
exists even among men here who have learned to respect
him for what he is."

Now that is laughable, isn't it? What he says about
the soldiers at West Point is all "bosh." Nobody will
believe it. I don't. I wish the Herald reporter who
wrote the above would visit Fort Sill and ask some of
the white soldiers there what they think of me. I am
afraid the Herald didn't get its "gift of prophecy" I
from the right place. Such blunders are wholly
inexcusable. The Herald reporter deserves an "extra"
(vide Cant Terms, etc.) for that. I wish he could get
one at any rate. Perhaps, however, the following will
excuse him. It is true.

"He is spoken of by all the officers as a hard student
and a gentleman. To a very great extent he has conquered
the prejudices of his fellows, and although they still
decline to associate with him it is evident that they
respect him. Said one of his class this morning:
'Flipper has certainly shown pluck and gentlemanly
qualities, and I shall certainly shake his "flipper"
when we say "Good-by." We have no feeling against him
at all, but we could not associate with him. You see we
are so crowded together here that we are just like one
family, possessing every thing in common and borrowing
every thing, even to a pair of white trousers, and we
could not hold such intimate fellowship with him. It may
be prejudice, but we could not do it; so we simply let
him alone, and he has lived to himself, except when we
drill with him. Feel bad about it? Well, I suppose he
did at first, but he has got used to it now. The boys
were rather afraid that when he should come to hold the
position as officer of the guard that he would swagger
over them, but he showed good sense and taste, merely
assuming the rank formally and leaving his junior to
carry out the duty.'"

That glorious day of graduation marked a new epoch in
my military life. Then my fellow-cadets and myself
forgot the past. Then they atoned for past conduct and
welcomed me as one of them as well as one among them.

I must revert to that Herald's article just to show
how absurd it is to say I never heard the sound of
my own voice except in the section-room. I heard it
at reveille, at breakfast, dinner, and supper roll-
calls, at the table, at taps, and at every parade I
attended during the day--in all no less than ten or
twelve times every single day during the four years.
Of course I heard it in other places, as I have
explained elsewhere. I always had somebody to talk
to every single day I was at the Academy. Why, I was
the happiest man in the institution, except when I'd
get brooding over my loneliness, etc. Such moments
would come, when it would seem nothing would interest
me. When they were gone I was again as cheerful and as
happy as ever. I learned to hate holidays. At those
times the other cadets would go off skating, rowing,
or visiting. I had no where to go except to walk around
the grounds, which I sometimes did. I more often
remained in my quarters. At these times barracks
would be deserted and I would get so lonely and
melancholy I wouldn't know what to do. It was on
an occasion like this-- Thanksgiving Day--I wrote
the words given in another place, beginning,

"Oh! 'tis hard this lonely living, to be
In the midst of life so solitary," etc.

Here is something from Harper's Weekly. The northern
press generally speak in the same tenor of my

"Inman Edward Page, a colored student at Brown
University, has succeeded in every respect better
than his brother Flipper at West Point. While a
rigid non-intercourse law was for four years
maintained between Flipper and the nascent warriors
at the Military Academy, Page has lived in the
largest-leaved clover at Brown, and in the Senior
year just closed was chosen Class-day Orator--a
position so much coveted among students ambitious
for class honors that it is ranked by many even
higher than the Salutatory or the Valedictory. Page
has throughout been treated by his classmates as
one of themselves. He is a good writer and speaker,
though not noticeably better than some of his
classmates. His conduct has been uniformly modest
but self-respectful, and he had won the esteem of
professors as well as students. The deportment of
his class toward him is in high and honorable contrast
with that pursued by the less manly students supported
by the government at West Point, who may have already
learned that the 'plain people' of the country are
with Flipper."

Here is something of a slightly different kind from a
Georgia paper--Augusta Chronicle and Constitutionalist.
Its tone betrays the locality of its birth.

"Benjamin F. Butler, Jr., who graduated at West Point
last summer in the same class with the colored cadet
from Georgia, Flipper, has been assigned for duty to
the Ninth Cavalry, the same regiment to which Flipper
is attached. The enlisted men in this regiment are all
negroes. Ben, senior, doubtless engineered the assignment
in order to make himself solid with the colored voters
of the South. Ben, like old Joe Bagstock, is devilish

It is in error as to my assignment. Lieutenant Butler
(whose name, by the way, is not Benjamin F., Jr.) was
assigned to the Ninth Cavalry. Here is the truth about
my assignment, given in the Sing Sing (N. Y.) Republican:

"Cadet Flipper has been appointed to the Tenth U. S.
Cavalry (colored), now in Texas. Secretary of State
Bigelow's son has also been assigned to the same
regiment. We wonder if the non-intercourse between
the two at West Point will be continued in the army.
Both have the same rank and are entitled to the same
privileges. Possibly a campaign among the Indians, or
a brush with the 'Greasers' on the Rio Grande, will
equalize the complexion of the two."

The National Monitor, of Brooklyn (N. Y.), has this
much to say. It may be worth some study by the cadets
now at the Academy.

"Lieutenant Flipper, colored, a recent graduate from
West Point, is a modest gentleman, and no grumbler.
He says that privately he was treated by fellow-cadets
with proper consideration, but reluctantly admits that
he was publicly slighted. He can afford to be untroubled
and magnanimous. How is it with his fellows? Will not
shame ere long mantle their cheeks at the recollection
of this lack of moral courage on their part? A quality
far more to be desired than any amount of physical
heroism they may ever exhibit."

Here is something extra good from the Hudson River
Chronicle, of Sing Sing. To all who want to know
the truth about me physically, I refer them to this
article. I refer particularly to the editor of a
certain New Orleans paper, who described me as a
"little bow-legged grif of the most darkly coppery

"For a few days past Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper,
the colored cadet who graduated from West Point
Academy last week, has been the guest of Professor
John W. Hoffman, of this place. Lieutenant Flipper
is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, whence General
Sherman commenced that glorious march to the sea
which proved what a hollow shell the Southern
Confederacy really was. The lieutenant evidently has
a large strain of white blood in his veins, and could
probably, if so disposed, trace descent from the F.
F's. He stands six feet, is well proportioned, has a
keen, quick eye, a gentlemanly address, and a soldierly
bearing. He goes from here to his home in Georgia, on a
leave of absence which extends to the first of November,
when he will join the Tenth Cavalry, to which he has
been assigned as Second Lieutenant. This assignment
shows that Lieutenant Flipper stood above the average
of the graduating class, as the cavalry is the next to
the highest grade in the service--only the Engineer
Corps taking precedence of the cavalry arm.

"For four long years Cadet Flipper has led an isolated
life at the Point--without one social companion, being
absolutely ostracized by his white classmates. As much
as any mortal, he can say:

"'In the crowd
They would not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts.'

"There must have been much of inherent manhood in a boy
that could stand that long ordeal, and so bear himself
at the close that, when his name was pronounced among
the graduates, the fair women and brave men who had
gathered to witness the going out into the world of
the nation's wards, with one accord greeted the lone
student with a round of applause that welcomed none
others of the class, and that could call from Speaker
Blaine the strong assurance that if he ever needed a
friend he might trustingly call on him.

"'The path of glory leads but to the grave,' but we
venture the prediction that Lieutenant Flipper will
tread that path as fearlessly and as promptly as any
of his comrades of the 'Class of '77.'"

Here is an editorial article from the New York Tribune.
It needs no comment, nor do the two following, which
were clipped from the Christian Union.


"Among the West Point graduates this year is young
Flipper, a lad of color and of African descent. It
is stated that he acquitted himself very respectably
in his examination by the Board of Visitors, that he
will pass creditably, and that he will go into the
cavalry, which is rather an aristocratic branch, we
believe, of the service. Mr. Flipper must have had
rather a hard time of it during his undergraduate
career, if, as we find it stated, most if not all
his white fellow-students have declined to associate
with him. He has behaved so well under these anomalous
circumstances, that he has won the respect of those
who, so far as the discipline of the school would
permit, ignored his existence. 'We have no feeling
against him,' said one of the students, 'but still we
could not associate with him. It may be prejudice, but
still we couldn't do it.' Impossibilities should be
required of no one, and if the white West Pointers
could not treat Mr. Flipper as if he were one of
themselves, why of course that is an end of the matter.
So long as they kept within the rules of the service,
and were guilty of no conduct 'unbecoming an officer
and a gentleman,' it was not for their commanders to
interfere. But when they tell us that they couldn't
possibly associate with Mr. Flipper, who is allowed
to have 'shown pluck and gentlemanly qualities,' we
may at least inquire whether they have tried to do so.
Conquering prejudices implies a fight with prejudices
--have these young gentlemen had any such fight? Have
they too 'shown pluck and gentlemanly qualities?'

"We are not disposed to speak harshly of these
fastidious young fellows, who will not be long
out of the school before they will be rather sorry
that they didn't treat Mr. Flipper a little more
cordially. But a much more important matter is that
he has, in spite of his color, made a good record
every way, has kept up with his class, has not been
dropped or dismissed, but emerges a full-blown Second
Lieutenant of Cavalry. He has thus achieved a victory
not only for himself but for his race. He has made
matters easier for future colored cadets; and twenty
years hence, if not sooner, the young white gentlemen
of West Point will read of the fastidiousness of their
predecessors with incredulous wonder. Time and patience
will settle every thing."


"The most striking illustration of class prejudice
this year has been afforded, not by Mississippi or
Louisiana, but by West Point. In 1873 Cadet Flipper
entered the Military Academy. God had given him a
black skin, a warm heart, an active brain, and a
patriotic ambition. He was guilty of no other crime
than that of being a negro, and bent on obtaining a
good education. He represented a race which had done
as good fighting for the flag as any done by the fair-
skinned Anglo-Saxon or Celt. Congress had recognized
his right and the right of his race to education.

"But his classmates decided that it should be denied
him. If they had possessed the brutal courage of the
murderers of Chisholm they would have shot him, or
whipped him, or hung him; but they were not brave
enough for that, and they invented instead a punishment
worse than the State has inflicted upon its most brutal
criminals. They condemned him to four years of solitude
and silence. For four years not a classmate spoke to
Cadet Flipper; for three years he did not hear his own
voice, except in the recitation-room, on leave of
absence, or in chance conversation with a stray visitor.
Then another negro entered West Point, and he had one
companion. The prison walls of a Sing Sing cell are more
sympathetic than human prejudice. And in all that class
of '77 there were not to be found a dozen men brave enough
to break through this wall of silence and give the
imprisoned victim his liberty. At least two thirds of the
class are Republican appointees; and not one champion of
equal rights. In all that class but one hero--and he a
negro. Seventy-five braves against one! And the one was
victorious. He fought out the four years' campaign,
conquered and graduated. Honor to the African; shame to
the Anglo-Saxon."


"We have received several letters on the subject of
Cadet Flipper, to whose treatment at West Point we
recently called the attention of our readers. One of
them is from a former instructor, who bears a high
testimony to Lieutenant Flipper's character. He writes:

"'I want to thank you for your editorial in the
Christian Union about Cadet Flipper. He was one
of our boys; was with us in school from the beginning
of his education till Freshman year in college, when
he received his appointment to West Point. He was always
obedient, faithful, modest, and in every way manly. We
were sorry to have him leave us; but now rejoice in
his victory, and take pride in him.

"'During all these years, in his correspondence with
his friends, he has not, so far as I can learn, uttered
a single complaint about his treatment.'

"A second is from a Canadian reader, who objects to
our condemnation of the Anglo-Saxon race, and insists
that we should have reserved it for the Yankees. In
Canada, he assures us, the color line is unknown, and
that negroes and Anglo-Saxons mingle in the same school
and in the same sports without prejudice. Strange to
say the white men are not colored by the intercourse.

"The third letter comes indirectly from Lieutenant
Flipper himself. In it the writer gives us the benefit
of information derived from the lieutenant. We quote
(the italics are ours):

"'Mr. Flipper is highly respected here, and has been
received by his former teachers and friends with
pleasure and pride. His deportment and character have
won respect and confidence for himself and his race.
As to his treatment at West Point, he assures me that
the "papers" are far astray. There was no ostracism on
the part of his fellow-cadets, except in the matter of
personal public association. He was invariably spoken
to and treated courteously and respectfully both as a
cadet and officer.'

"We are glad to be assured that it was not as bad as
we had been informed by what we considered as good
authority; and we are still more glad to know that
Lieutenant Flipper, instead of making much of his
social martyrdom, has the good sense to make as light
of it as he conscientiously can. But if it is true
that there were cadets who did not sympathize with
the action of the class, and were brave enough to
speak to their colored comrade in private, it was a
pity that they were not able to screw their courage
up to a little higher point, and put the mark of a
public condemnation on so petty and cruel a

The people at large seem to be laboring under a
delusion about West Point, at least the West Point
that I knew. I know nothing of what West Point was,
or of what was done there before I entered the
Academy. I have heard a great deal and read a
great deal, and I am compelled to admit I have
doubts about much of it. At the hands of the officers
of the institution my treatment didn't differ from
that of the other cadets at all, and at the hands of
the cadets themselves it differed solely "in the matter
of personal public association." I was never persecuted,
or abused, or called by approbrious epithets in my
hearing after my first year. I am told it has been done,
but in my presence there has never been any thing but
proper respect shown me. I have mentioned a number of
things done to me by cadets, and I have known the same
things to be done to white cadets. For instance, I was
reported for speaking to a sergeant about the discharge
of his duty. (See Chapter X., latter part, on that
subject.) The same thing occurred to several members of
the class of '74. They were ordered into the rear rank
by a sergeant of the second class, when they were first-
classmen. They were white. The result was they were all,
three in number, I think, put in arrest.

Some New England paper contributes the following
articles to this discussion, parts of which I quote:


"The Hilton-Seligman controversy is one of those
incidents which illustrate some of the features
of our social life. The facts can briefly be stated.
A Jewish gentleman, of wealth and position, applies
for rooms at the Grand Union Hotel, Saratoga, and is
flatly refused admission because he is a Jew. The
public indignation is so great that the manager of
the hotel is obliged to defend the act, and puts in
the plea that a man has the right to manage his
property as he pleases.

"But before our anger cools, let us remember the case
of the colored cadet at West Point. During his course
he met with constant rebuffs. He was systematically
cut by his fellow-schoolmates. Instead of extending
to him a generous sympathy in his noble ambition, they
met him with sneers. All the feelings which should
guide a chivalric soldier and lead him to honor real
heroism, were quenched by the intense prejudice against
color. Mean and despicable as is the spirit which
prompted the-manager of the Grand Union Hotel to refuse
to entertain the rich Jewish banker, that which influenced
the young men at West Point is still more deserving scorn
and contempt. It was meaner and more contemptible than


Within the last thirty years there has been a great
change in public sentiment relating to colored persons.
That it has become wholly just and kind cannot be shown;
but it is far less unjust and cruel than it used to be.
In most of the old free States, at least, tidy,
intelligent, and courteous American citizens of African
descent are treated with increasing respect for their
rights and feelings. In public conveyances we find them
enjoying all the consideration and comforts of other
passengers. At our public schools they have cordial
welcome and fair play. We often see them walking along
the street with white schoolmates who have evidently
lost sight of the difference in complexions. Colored
boys march in the ranks of our school battalions without
receiving the slightest insult. Colored men have been
United States senators and representatives. Frederick
Douglass is Marshal of the District of Columbia.

"There is one conspicuous place, however, where
caste-feeling seems to have survived the institution
of slavery, and that is West Point. There the old
prejudice is as strong, active, and mean as ever.
Of this there has been a recent and striking instance
In the case of young Flipper who has just graduated.
It appears that during his whole course this worthy
young man was subjected to the most relentless
'snubbing.' All his fellow-students avoided him
habitually. In the recitation-room and upon the parade
ground, by day and by night, he was made to feel that
he belonged to an inferior and despised race, and that
no excellence of deportment, diligence in study, or
rank in his class could entitle him to the recognition
accorded to every white dunce and rowdy. Yet with rare
strength of character he persevered, and when, having
maintained the standing of No. fifty in a class of
seventy-six, he received his well-earned diploma, there
was a round of tardy applause.

"If West Point is to continue to be a school
characterized by aristocracy based upon creed,
race, or color, so undemocratic and unrepublican
as to be out of harmony with our laws and
institutions, it will do more harm than good,
and, like other nuisances, it should be abated.
If our rulers are sincere in their professions,
and faithful to their duties, a better state of
things may be brought about. Military arts must
be acquired somewhere; but if the present Academy
cannot be freed from plantation manners, it may
be well to establish a new one without pro-slavery
traditions, or, as has been suggested by the
Providence Journal, to endow military departments
in the good colleges where character and not color
is the test of worth and manhood."

(From the New York Sun.)



"A reception was given last evening by Mr. James W.
Moore, in the rooms of the Lincoln Literary Musical
Association, 132 West Twenty-seventh Street, to
Lieutenant H. O. Flipper, of Georgia, the colored
cadet who has just graduated at West Point. Mr. Moore
has had charge of the sick room of Commodore Garrison
since his illness. The chandeliers were decorated with
small flags. On a table on the platform rested a large
basket of flowers, bearing the card of Barrett H. Van
Auken, a grandson of Commodore Garrison. Among the
pictures on the wall were many relating to Lincoln and
the emancipation proclamation. Cheerful music was
furnished from a harp and violin.

"The guests began to arrive about nine o'clock, the
ladies in large numbers, and the room was soon abreeze
with a buzz of conversation and the rustle of gayly-
colored dresses and bright ribbons.

"The grand entree was at a quarter before ten. Lieutenant
Flipper entered the room in full uniform. A heavy yellow
horse-hair plume fell down over his cavalry helmet. His
coat was new and bright, and glittered with its gold
buttons and tasselled aigulets. By his side hung a long
cavalry sabre in a gilt scabbard. His appearance was the
signal for a buzz of admiration. He is very tall and well
made. Beside him was Mr. James W. Moore. Behind him, as
he walked through the thronged rooms, were the Rev. Dr.
Henry Highland Garnett, and Mrs. Garnett; the Rev. E. W.
S. Peck of the Thirty-fifth Street Methodist Church; Mr.
Charles Remond Douglass, son of Fred Douglass, and United
States Consul in San Domingo; the Rev. J. S. Atwell, of
St. Philip's Episcopal Church; the Rev. John Peterson;
Professor Charles L. Reason, of the Forty-first Street
Grammar School; John J. Zuilille; Richard Robinson, and

"The Lieutenant was led upon the stage by Mr. Garnett
and seated at the extreme left, while Dr. Garnett took
a seat at the extreme right. Next to the Lieutenant sat
Miss Martha J. Moore and Miss Fanny McDonough, Mr. P. S.
Porter, Dr. Ray, Mr. Atwell, and Professor Reason
completed the semicircle, of which Lieutenant Flipper
and Dr. Garnett formed the extremities. The Rev. Mr.
Atwell sat in the middle.

"After all were seated, Dr. Garnett called Mr. Douglass
forward to a vacant seat on the platform. In introducing
Lieutenant Flipper, Dr. Garnett said he had honored
himself and his race by his good scholarship and pluck.
Nowhere else was there, he thought, such iron-bound and
copper-covered aristocracy as in West Point. Who could
have thought that any one wearing the 'shadowed livery
of the burnished sun' would ever dare to be an applicant?
Young Smith's high personal courage had led him to
resent a blow with a blow, and his career in the Academy
was cut short. Lieutenant Flipper had encountered the
same cold glances, but he had triumphed, and appeared
before his friends in the beautiful uniform of the
national army. (Applause.) The Doctor believed he would
never disgrace it. (Applause, and waving of handkerchiefs
by the ladies.)

"At the close of his address, Dr. Garnett said: 'Ladies
and gentlemen, I take great pleasure in introducing to
you Lieutenant H. O. Flipper.' The Lieutenant rose and
bowed low, his hands resting on the hilt of his sabre.
He said nothing. Mr. Douglass was introduced, but excused
himself from speaking.

"Then Mr. James Crosby was called on. He said when the
regiment in which he was orderly sergeant had marched
to Port Hudson, General-- met it, and said to Colonel
Nelson: 'Colonel, what do you call these?' 'I call them
soldiers,' answered Colonel Nelson. 'Well, if these are
soldiers, and if I've got to command niggers, the
government is welcome to my commission. Take them down
to the right to General Payne. He likes niggers.' 'Soon
afterward,' added Mr. Crosby, 'occurred that terrible
slaughter of the colored troops which you all remember
so well. This year Lieutenant Flipper and a nephew of
General--graduated in the same class, and the colored
man rated the highest.'

"After the addresses Lieutenant Flipper descended to
the floor, and without formal introductions shook hands
with all. He had taken off his cavalry helmet while
sitting on the stage. Lemonade and ice-cream were served
to the guests. About two hundred persons, all colored,
were present. The Lieutenant will start for his home in
Georgia on Monday. He will join his regiment, the Tenth
Cavalry, on the Rio Grande in November."

(From the Atlanta (Ga.) Constitution.)


"Flipper has flopped up again, and seems to be
decidedly in luck. He has been transferred to the
Tenth Cavalry, which is alluded to by a New Orleans
paper as the 'Tenth Nubian Light Foot.' This, it
seems to us, is a dark hint as to the color of this
gallant corps, but as the State of Texas lies
somewhere between New Orleans and the Rio Grande,
we suppose the matter will be allowed to pass. But
as to Flipper, Flipper has got his regiment and he
has had a reception at the hands of his colored
friends and acquaintances in New York. Common people
are generally embarrassed at receptions given to
themselves, but not so with Flipper. The reception
was exceedingly high-toned, as well as highly colored,
and took place in the rooms of the 'Lincoln Literary
Musical Association.' Flipper, rigged out in full
uniform, with a yellow horse-hair plume flowing
felicitously over his cavalry helmet, sailed in,
according to accounts, just as chipper and as pert
as you please. There was no lager beer handed around,
but the familiar sound of the band, which was composed
of a harp and a violin, made its absence painfully
apparent. There were few speeches, but the affair was
decidedly formal. When every thing was ready for
business, a party of the name of Garnett rose and
introduced Flipper, and in the course of his remarks
took occasion to attack the newly-made lieutenant by
accusing him of wearing 'the shadowed livery of the
burnished sun.' Whereupon Flipper got up, placed his
hands on the hilt of his bloody sabre, and bowed. The
crowd then shook hands all around, the music played,
and lemonade and ice-cream were brought out from their
hiding-places, and all went merry as the milkman's bell.
As we said before, Flipper is in luck. He is a
distinguished. young man. He will reach home during the
present week, and it is to be hoped that his friends here
are ready to give him an ice-cream lunch, or something of
that kind."

(From the Christian Recorder.)


"Lieutenant Flipper has, by his manly conduct and
noble bearing, his superior intellectual powers shown
his fellow-cadets and tutors that all the colored
student wants is a 'chance.' His term of four years,
his graduation, his appointment, will all mark a new
era in American history. That the 'feat' he has
accomplished is appreciated has been shown in too
many ways to mention. His advent into New York City
was marked by many courtesies. His friends, not
unmindful of his new field and position, tendered
him a grand reception at Lincoln Literary Hall on
the 30th of June. It was the writer's good fortune
to arrive at New York just in time to be present
and pay him similar honors with others. The hall
was tastefully and beautifully decorated with flowers
and flags, representing the different States in the
Union. At the appointed hour the distinguished guests
were seen gathering, filling the hall to its utmost
capacity. Among the number we noticed especially Dr.
H. H. Garnett and Processor Reason. A few and
appropriate remarks were made by Dr. Garnett as an
introduction, after him others followed. After these
formal exercises were over, Mr. Flipper came down
from the rostrum and welcomed his friends by a
hearty shake of the hand, then all supplied the
wants of the inner man by partaking of cream, cake,
and lemonade, which were so bountifully supplied. The
evening was certainly a pleasant one, as delightful
as one could wish, and I presume there was no one
present who did not enjoy himself. In addition to
what has already been mentioned the occasion was
still more enlivened by the strains of sweet music.
The exercises of the evening being concluded, the
distinguished guests departed each one for his home.
Lieutenant Flipper spent some days in New York, and
during this visit, as he tells me, ex-Secretary Belknap
sent him a written invitation to call on him. This he
did, and was received very cordially and congratulated
on the victory achieved. He spoke of the pros and cons,
and seemed anxious that success might attend his
footsteps in all the avenues of army life. That Belknap
is interested in the young soldier and desires his
success I do not deny; but whether the ex-Secretary
would have given him any assistance when in his power
is a question I shall not presume to answer."

(From the Atlanta (Ga.) Constitution.)



"'Flip's done come home!' was the familiar, and yet
admiring manner in which the young negroes about town
yesterday spread the information that Second Lieutenant
Henry O. Flipper, of the Tenth Cavalry, and the first
colored graduate of the United States Military Academy
at West Point, had arrived. His coming has created
quite a sensation in colored circles, and when he
appeared upon the streets, last evening, taking a
drive with his delighted father, he was the cynosure
of all the colored people and the object of curious
glances from the whites. The young man had 'been there
before,' however, and took all the ogling with patience
and seeming indifference. Once in awhile he would
recognize an old acquaintance and greet him with a
smile and a bow.

"The last number of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
contains an excellent likeness of Flipper, dressed in
his cadet uniform. His features betray his intelligence,
and indicate the culture which he has acquired by hard
study. His arrival here was the occasion of a buzz about
the Union depot. His parents and a number of intimate
friends were present to receive him, and the scene was
an interesting one to all concerned.

"'Dat's him!' said a dozen of the curious darkeys
who stood off and hadn't the honor of the youth's
acquaintance. They seemed to feel lonesome.

"'He's one ob de United States Gazettes!' shouted
a young darkey, in reply to a query from a strange
negro who has moved here since Flipper went away.

"But the young officer was speedily spirited out
of the crowd and taken home to his little bed for
a rest.

"On the streets he was greeted by many of our citizens
who knew him, and who have watched his career with
interest. His success was complimented, and he was
urged to pursue his course in the same spirit hereafter.
Among his colored friends he was a lion, and they could
not speak their praises in language strong enough.

"A darkey would approach the young man, cautiously,
feel of his buttons and clothes, and enthusiastically
remark: "'Bad man wid de gub'ment strops on!'

"These were the expressions of admiration that best
suited the ideas of his delighted acquaintances. They
will give him a reception on Monday night next, at
which all his friends will be present, and some of our
leading white citizens will be invited to be present.

"We will try and give the young man's views and
experiences in tomorrow's issue."

This paper is noted for its constant prevarication.
Whatever it says about negroes is scarcely worth
noticing, for be it in their favor or not it is
almost certainly untrue. My "delighted father" was
not within three hundred miles of Atlanta when I
reached that place. I did not appear on the streets
in uniform for several days after my arrival, and then
only at the request of many friends and an officer of
the Second Infantry then at McPherson Barracks.

(From the Atlanta (Ga.) Republican)

"Lieutenant Flipper arrived in our city last week on a
visit to his friends. His father lives in Thomasville,
but he was educated in this city. His intelligence and
manly course has won for him the praise of even the

(From the, Atlanta (Ga.) Republican.)

"We acknowledge the courtesy of an invitation to a
reception given to Lieutenant H. O. Flipper of the
Tenth Cavalry, by his colored friends in Atlanta.
Circumstances beyond our control prevented our

"We are informed it was a pleasant affair, and that
Lieutenant Flipper embraced the opportunity to give
something of his four years' experience at West Point,
and to correct some of the misstatements of the Atlanta
Constitution concerning the treatment he received while
a cadet at the Military Academy. An article alluding to
this subject has been crowded out this week, but will
appear in our next issue.

(From the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle and Constitutionalist.)


"The Cincinnati Gazette says: 'Lieutenant Flipper, the
young colored man who is guilty of having been graduated
with credit from West Point, continues to be the butt
of Georgia Democratic journals.' We would like to know
where the Gazette gets its information. Flipper has been
treated with nothing but kindness in Georgia. Wherever
he has reviewed the colored military, accounts of the
reviews have been published, but we have yet to see a
single word in a Georgia paper in disparagement or
ridicule of the colored graduate."

Witness the following from the Atlanta Constitution:



"Last night the colored people of the city gave a
'reception' to Flipper, of the United States Army.
They did this from a feeling of pride over the fact
that one of their color, a townsman, had succeeded in
attaining his rank. They doubtless, little suspected
that he would make such use of the occasion as he did.
More than one of them so expressed their feeling before
The evening ended. The relations between the races in
this city have for years been such as to make remarks
like those in which Flipper indulged not only uncalled
for, but really distasteful. They are not to be blamed
for his conduct.

"The crowd that gathered in the hall on the corner of
Mitchell and Broad Streets was large. It was composed
almost entirely of well-dressed and orderly colored
people. There were present several of the white male
and female teachers of the negro schools; also, some of
our white citizens occupying back seats, who were drawn
thither by mere curiosity.

"Flipper was dressed lavishly in regimentals and gold
cord, and sat upon the stage with his immense and
ponderous cavalry sabre tightly buckled around him. He
had the attitude of Wellington or Grant at a council of
war. He was introduced to the audience by J. O. Wimbish,
a high-toned negro politician (as was) of this city, who
bespattered the young warrior with an eulogy such as no
school-master would have written for less than $5 C.O.D.
It was real slushy in its copiousness and diffusiveness.


He arose with martial mien, and his left hand resting on
his sabre hilt. He said:

"'Some weeks ago he had been called upon at a reception
in New York to make a speech, but he had reminded the
gentleman who called upon him that he had been taught
to be a soldier and not an orator. While upon this
occasion he still maintained that lie was not an orator,
yet he would tell them something of his career at West
Point. He referred to his colored predecessors in the
Academy and their fates, particularly of Smith, whose
last year there was his (F.'s) first. During that year,
on Smith's account, he had received his worst treatment
at the Academy. Prejudice against us was strong there at
that time. During his first encampment he had a better
time than almost any man in his class. In 1874 Smith left,
and a rumor prevailed that he (F ) was afraid to stay and
was going to resign. Colonel Upton, the commandant, sent
for him to his house, told him not to do so, but to stick
it out. Of course he had no intention of resigning, and
he followed this superfluous advice. So far as the cadets
were concerned they always treated me fairly, would speak
to me, and some came to my room and talked with me, but
the only thing they did that was wrong, perhaps, was that
they would not associate with me openly. The officers
always treated me as well as they did any other cadet.
All these reports about my bad treatment there, especially
in Southern newspapers, are absolutely false.

"'I will read and comment upon some of these articles.
In The Constitution of last Saturday it said I had the
hardest four years of any cadet who ever passed through
the Academy. That is in some respects true, but not
wholly so. Speaking of Ben Butler's son, I am proud to
say that among the three hundred cadets I hadn't a better
friend than the son of the Massachusetts statesman.
(Applause.) As to Mr Bigelow's son, mentioned here, I
know him well, and his whole family--his father, the
distinguished ex-Secretary of State, his mother and his
two sisters, and have met them at their home. Mrs.
Bigelow, recognizing my position, and thinking to assure
my feelings, sent me a nice box of fruit with her

"He then commented on articles from Beecher's Christian
Union, the New York Tribune, Harper's Weekly, and the New
York Telegram, characterizing many of their statements
about himself as false.


"The article last named was about social equality in
the army. Flipper said that he was cordially met by the
army officers in Chattanooga. In return he paid his
respects to the commandant and was introduced and shown
through the barracks. He was treated with every courtesy.

"'How it is here you have all seen as I walked about the
city. I have walked with the officers of the garrison
here several times today, even up and down Whitehall
Street, and one of them invited me into Schumann's drug
store, and had a glass of soda together. I know it is
not a usual thing to sell to colored people, but we got
it. (Laughter and applause.) And to-night as Mr. J. O.
Wimbish and myself were coming to the hall, we met with
one of the officers at the corner, and went into
Schumann's again. We called for soda-water, and got it
again! (Applause.) And I called at the barracks, through
military courtesy, and paid my respects to the commandant.
I understand that the officers there have had my case
under consideration, and have unanimously agreed that I
am a graduate of the national Academy, and hold a
commission similar to their own, and am entitled to the
same courtesy as any other officer. I have been invited
to visit them at their quarters to-morrow. These things
show you something of social equality in the army, and
when this happens with officers who have lived in the
South, and had opportunity to be tainted with Southern
feeling, I expect still less trouble from this source
when I reach my regiment and among officers who have
not lived in the South and had occasion to be tainted
in this way. The gentlemen of the army are generally
better educated than the people of the South.'

"He spoke of his graduation and of the applause with
which he was greeted. He closed by thanking his


"Then Flipper was escorted upon the floor, and the
announcement was made that all who desired could now
be introduced to the youth.

"The first man to receive this distinguished honor was
George Thomas, the Assistant United States Attorney. He
was followed closely by several Northern school-marms
and teachers, and a host of the colored people. "After
shaking, the crowd took ice-cream and cake and adjourned.
Sic transit!"

I pass over the preceding article with the silent
contempt it deserves. Some of the papers commented
upon it. I give two such articles:

(From the Atlanta (Ga.) Republican.)

"The Atlanta Constitution, true to principle, comes
out in a slanderous attack upon Lieutenant Flipper.
In its issue of Tuesday, July 10th, it calls him a
fraud. Would to heaven we had ten thousand such frauds
in Georgia for the good of the State and progress in

"It takes exception, too, to the manner in which the
colored lieutenant appeared at the reception given by
the colored people in his honor. He was 'lavishly
dressed in full regimentals,' it says, 'with gold cord.
He sat upon the stage with his massive and ponderous
sword, looking like Wellington or Grant in war council.
He made remarks uncalled for and distasteful.' Oh dear!

"Now we (that is I, this individual, Mr. Editor,
for I would not assume your grand editorial pronoun)
should like to know how the Constitution would have
the young officer dress. Surely it was entirely proper
and becoming that he should appear in full regimental
cap, coat, boots, spurs, and all, full fledged, just
as he issued forth from West Point.

"In the first place it was a novel sight for the
colored people. Surely the Constitution would not
rob us of the privilege and pleasure of seeing in
full military costume the first and only one of our
race who has been permitted to pass through West Point
with honor.

"In regard to the ostentatious manner in which the
lieutenant conducted himself on that evening, nothing
could be further from the truth. In fact, the general
comment of the evening by both black and white was on
the modesty of his bearing.

"It is not strange, however, that the Constitution,
whose judgment and sense of right and justice have
been perverted through years of persistent sinning,
should see things in a different light.

"The 'uncalled for and distasteful' remarks were
doubtless those made in regard to the fact that
Northern people coming into contact with Southern
prejudice are tainted by it, and that West Pointers
are generally better educated than the Southern
people. Of course this would stir up the wrath of
the Constitution; for what could be more hateful in
its sight than truth?


(From the New York World.)

Lieutenant Flipper would have shown better sense if
he had not made any speech at Atlanta. But if he was
to make any speech at all upon the subject of his
treatment at West Point, it could scarcely be expected
that he should make one more modest, manly and sensible
than that which is reported in our news columns."

Here are two other articles of the abusive order from
the Southern press:

(From the Griffin (Ga.) News.)

"J. C. Freeman, the only white man in Georgia that
ever disgraced the military of the United States, was
in the city yesterday. It will be remembered that this
individual at one time misrepresented this district in
Congress, and during that time he appointed one negro
by color, and Flipper by name, to West Point. But then,
nevertheless, the negro is as good as he is, and better
too, and we have no doubt but what Freeman thinks he did
a big thing, but the good people of the State think
different. This notice is not paid for."

(From the Warrenton (Ga.) Clipper.)

"The following is the way the Southerners solidify
their section--that is, it is one way--the other,
being the masked Kuklux. What it says, however, about
the North, is just about so:

"'Lieutenant Flipper, the colored cadet, is in Macon,
and the darkies there think him a bigger man that
General Grant. They'll want him to be President after
awhile, and the Northern people will then be the first
to say no.'"

The article of social equality referred to was clipped
from the New York Evening Telegram. It is as follows:


"There is no danger of negro equality, oh no! But it
will be so delightful for the white soldier to be
commanded to pace the greensward before the tent of
Lieutenant Flipper, the negro graduate of West Point,
and the white soldier will probably indulge in a
strange train of thought while doing it. And when
promotion comes, and the negro becomes Majah Flippah,
or Colonel Flippah, the prospects of the white captains
and lieutenants will be so cheerful, particularly if
they have families and are stationed at some post
in the far West, where any neglect in the social
courtesies toward their superior officer would probably
go hard with them and their families."

To go back to the article "Flying Around Flipper," I
want to say the white people of Georgia can claim no
credit for any part of my education. The Storrs school
was not a public school at the time I went to school
there. It did not become such until I went to West
Point. The Atlanta University receives $8000 per annum
From the State of Georgia in lieu of the share of the
agricultural land scrip due to the colored people for
educational purposes. Efforts have been made to take
even this from the university, but all have been

(From the Macon (Ga.) Telegram and Messenger.)


"On Monday evening the colored companies of the city
had a battalion parade and review.

"The three companies, viz., the Lincoln Guards, the
Bibb County Blues, and the Central City Light Infantry,
formed on Fourth Street, and to martial music marched
up Mulberry to First, down First to Walnut, up Walnut
to Spring Street, and there formed for dress parade and

"On the right of the line were the Light Infantry
under Captain W. H. DeLyons. The Blues bore the
colors, and were commanded by Spencer Moses, Captain,
and the Guards supported the extreme left. T. N. M.
Sellers, Captain of the Lincoln Guards, acted as
major. After some preliminary movements the troops
were inspected by Lieutenant Flipper, the colored

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