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

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graduate of West Point. The troops then marched around
the inspecting officer.

"The line was again formed, and the major addressed
Lieutenant Flipper in a short speech, in which was
expressed gratitude to the government and thanks to
the inspecting officer.

"Lieutenant Flipper replied in a few very sensible
and appropriate remarks: That he wished all success,
honor, and thanks to the companies for their kindness
and courtesy. Hoped they would all make soldiers and
tight for their country. That he was a soldier rather
than a speaker. That he had tried to do his duty at
West Point, and that he expected to continue to try
to do his duty, and 'again thanking you for your
hospitality, kindness, and attention to myself, I
renew my wish for your future success.'

"After the speaking there was a general hand-shaking.
The entire parade was very creditable indeed, showing
considerable proficiency in the tactics, and was
witnessed by a large crowd of about twelve hundred of
whites and blacks.

"This is the first review ever held by the colored
troops in the city of Macon. About eighty men rank
and file were out. The colors used was the United
States flag. The uniforms were tasty and well gotten

There was a very scurrilous article in one of the
Charleston (S.C.) papers. I have not been able to
get it. I am informed that after commenting on my
graduation, assignment, etc., it indulged in much
speculation as to my future. It told how I would
live, be treated, etc., how I would marry, beget
"little Flippers," and rear them up to "don the
army blue," and even went far enough to predict
their career. It was a dirty piece of literature,
and I am not very sorry I couldn't obtain it.

(From the Atlanta (Ga.) Republican.)


"At length a colored youth has overcome the difficulties
that surrounded him as a student at the West Point
Military Academy, and has graduated, with the respect
of his white associates who were at first very much
opposed to him. Mr. Flipper, the successful young man
is a Georgia boy, and was appointed a cadet to West
Point from the Fifth Congressional District--the
Atlanta District--by Congressman Freeman, we believe.
He was raised by Rev. Frank Quarles, of this city, and
is regarded by him almost as a son.

"John F. Quarles, Esq., the son of Rev. Frank Quarles,
is spending a few days with his father. Mr. J. F.
Quarles was educated in Pennsylvania since the war,
and returned to Georgia in 1870. He read law and was
admitted to the Augusta bar after a careful examination
before three of the ablest lawyers at that bar, which
is noted for its talent. He passed a very creditable
examination, and is, we believe, the only colored man
who has been admitted to the Georgia bar. He was soon
after appointed consul to Port Mahon, in the Mediterranean
Sea, and served with credit until he was legislated of
office by the Democratic Congress. President Hayes
recently appointed him consul to Malaga, Spain.

"Rev. Mr. Quarles is justly proud of two such boys."

Here, too, is a venerable colored man claiming the
honor of having raised me. Why, I never was away
from my mother and father ten consecutive hours in
my life until I went to West Point. It is possible,
nay, very probable, that he jumped me on his knee,
or boxed me soundly for some of my childish pranks,
but as to raising me, that honor is my mother's,
not his.

Before leaving West Point the following communications
were sent me from the head-quarters of the Liberia
Exodus Association, 10 Mary Street, Charleston S.C.
I replied in very courteous terms that I was opposed
to the whole scheme, and declined to have any thing to
do with it. I was in Charleston later in the year, and
while there I was besieged by some of the officers of
the association, who had not yet despaired of making me
"Generalissimo of Liberia's Army," as one of them
expressed himself. Wearied of their importunities, and
having no sympathy with the movement, I published the
following in the Charleston News and Courier:


"Lieutenant Flipper, of the Tenth United States Cavalry,
the newly- fledged colored West Pointer, has something
to say on the question of the Liberian Exodus, which
will be interesting to the people of his race. The
lieutenant, by his creditable career as a cadet at the
Military Academy, has certainly earned the right to be
heard by the colored population with at least as much
respect and attention as has been given to the very best
of the self-constituted apostles of the Exodus. Here is
his letter:

To the Editor of The News and Courier:

"'SIR: A rumor has come to me from various sources,
to the effect-that I have promised to resign my
commission in the army after serving the two years
required by law, and to then accept another as General
Commander-in-Chief of the Liberian Army.

"'It has also come to my notice that many, particularly
in the counties adjoining Georgia, are being persuaded,
and intend going to Liberia because I have made this

"'I shall consider it no small favor if you will state
that there is no law requiring me to serve two years,
that I never authorized any such statement as here made,
that I have no sympathy whatever for the "Liberian
Exodus" movement, that I give it neither countenance nor
support, but will oppose it whenever I feel that the
occasion requires it. I am not at all disposed to flee
from one shadow to grasp at another--from the supposed
error of Hayes's Southern policy to the prospective
glory of commanding Liberia's army.

"'Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

"'Second Lieutenant Tenth U. S. Cavalry.
"'CHARLESTON, S.C., October 19, 1877.'"


June 22, 1877.

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

DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER: Your future, as foreshadowed
by the press of this country, looks dismal enough. We
have conned its remarks with mingled feelings of
sympathy and exultation. Exultation! because we believe
fate has something higher and better in store for you
than they or you ever dreamed. Inclosed please find
copy of a letter to the Honorable the Secretary of
State. We have not yet received a reply. Also, inclosed,
a number of the Missionary Record containing the call
referred to. We have mentioned you in our note to His
Excellency Anthony Gardner, President of Liberia.
Please communicate with us and say if this letter and
inclosures do not open up a bright vista in the future
to your imagination and reasonable aspirations? We
picture to ourselves our efforts to obtain a line of
steamers crowned with success; and behold you as
commander-in-chief organizing and marshalling Liberia's
military forces in the interests of humanity at large,
and the especial development of a grand African
nationality that shall command the respect of the

So Afric shall resume her seat in the
Hall of Nations vast;
And strike upon her restrung lyre
The requiem of the past:
And sing a song of thanks to God,
For his great mercy shown,
In leading, with an outstretched arm,
The benighted wanderer home. Selah!

Provide yourself at once with maps, etc., master the
chorography of Africa in general, and the topography
of Liberia in particular, that is to say, the whole
range of the Kong mountains, including its eastern
slope on to the Niger, our natural boundary! for the
next thirty years! after that, onward! Cultivate
especially the artillery branch of the service; this
is the arm with which we can most surely overawe all
thought of opposition among the native tribes; whilst
military engineering will dot out settlements with
forts, against which, they will see, 'twould be
madness to hurl themselves. We desire to absorb and
cultivate them. The great obstacle to this is their
refusal to have their girls educated. This results
from their institution of polygamy. Slavery is the
same the world over--it demands the utter ignorance
of its victims. We must compel their enlightenment.
Have we not said enough? Does not your intelligence
grasp, and your ambition spring to the great work?
Let us hear from you. You can be a great power in
assisting to carry out our Exodus. If you desire we
will elect you a member of our council and keep you
advised of our proceedings. We forward you by this
mail some of our numbers and the Charleston News of
the 20th. See the article on yourself, and let it
nerve you to thoughts and deeds of greatness. Let
us know something about Baker and McClennan. Are
they at Annapolis? Cadets? (We will require a navy
as well as an army.) Also something about yourself.
What part of the State are you from? Hon. R. H. Cain
is not here, or probably he could inform us.

Affectionately yours. By our President,

Pastor of Morris Brown Chapel.

GEO. CURTIS, Corresponding Secretary.

P. S.--We have received a reply from the Secretary
of State--very courteous in its tone--but "regrets"
to say that he has "no special means of forming an
opinion upon the subject. The measure referred to
would require an Act of Congress, in respect to
whose future proceedings it would not be prudent
to venture a prediction."

The answer is all we expected. We have made ourselves
known to, and are recognized by, the Executive; our
next step is to address Senators Morton and Blaine--
Hon. R. H. Cain will see to it, that the question is
pushed in the House. G.C.


June 14, 1877.

Secretary of State, Washington, D.C.:

Sir: Inclosed please find a call on our people to
prepare to organize for an exodus to Liberia.

We think it explains itself, but any further
explanation called for we will gladly supply.

In the event of a sufficient response to our call,
please inform us if there is any probability of our
government placing one or more steamers on the route
between here, or Port Royal, and Liberia for our
transportation; and if so, then the charge for
passage; and if, to those unable to pay ready money,
time will be given, and the payment received in produce?

Tens of thousands are now eager to go from this State
alone, but we want a complete exodus, if possible,
from the whole United States; thus leaving you a
homogeneous people, opening up an immense market
for your products, giving a much required impetus
to your trade, commerce, and manufactures; and for
ourselves attaining a position where, removed from
under the shade of a "superior race," we will have
full opportunity for developing whatever capacity
of soul growth our Creator has endowed us with.

That Africa will be developed, and chiefly through the
instrumentality of its five millions of descendants in
America, is certain. Now the question is, who shall have
the chief handling and consequent benefit of this grand
instrument, next to itself, of course, for we are treating
of a sentient instrumentality. We beseech you that you do
not send us, Columbus-like, from court to court offering
the development of a new world to incredulous ears. We
are asking the President of Liberia, the American
Colonization Society, and all friends of the measure,
for their aid, advice, and co-operation.

We desire to carry our first shipment of emigrants not
later than September or October proximo.

We have the honor to be, Sir, in all respect and loyalty,
yours to command.

The Council of the L. E. A. By our President,

Pastor Morris Brown A.M.E. Church.

Corresponding Secretary.

Here is an article from some paper in New Orleans.
Contempt is all it deserves. I am sure all my readers
will treat it as I do. Frogs will croak, won't they?


"With the successful examination of the colored cadet
Flipper, at West Point, and his appearance in the
gazette as a full-fledged lieutenant of cavalry, the
long vexed question has been settled just as it ceased
to be a question of any practical import. Out of three
or four experiments Flipper is the one success. As the
whole South has now passed into Democratic control, and
the prospect for Southern Republican congressmen is
small, the experiments will hardly be repeated, and
he must stand for those that might have been.

"It would be interesting to know how Flipper is to
occupy his time. The usual employments of young
lieutenants are of a social nature, such as leading
the German at Narraganset Pier and officiating in
select private theatricals in the great haunts of
Fashion. Flipper is described as a little bow-legged
grif of the most darkly coppery hue, and of a general
pattern that even the most enthusiastic would find it
hard to adopt. Flipper is not destined to uphold the
virtues and graces of his color in the salons of
Boston and New York, then, nor can he hope to escape
the disagreeably conspicuous solitude he now inhabits
among his fellow-officers through any of those agencies
of usage and familiarity which would result if other
Flippers were to follow him into the army and help to
dull the edge of the innovation. Just what Flipper is
to do with himself does not seem altogether clear.
Even the excitement of leading his men among the
redskins will be denied him, now that Spotted Tail has
pacified the malcontents and Sitting Bull has retired
to the Canadas. It is to be presumed that those persons
who patronized Flipper and had him sent to West Point
are gratified at the conclusion, and there is a sort of
reason for believing that Flipper himself is contented
with the lot he has accepted; but whether the experiment
is worth all the annoyance it occasions is a problem not
so easily disposed of.

"His prospects don't appear to be very brilliant as
regards social delights or domestic enjoyments, but
of course that is Flipper's business-- not ours. It
merely struck us that things had happened a little
unfortunately for him, to become the lonesome
representative of his race in the midst of associations
that object to him and at a time when the supply of
colored officers is permanently cut off. Personally we
are not interested in Flipper."

I am indebted to a Houston Texas, paper for the


"We had a call yesterday from Lieutenant H. O.
Flipper, of the United States Army. Mr. Flipper,
it will be remembered, is the colored cadet who
graduated at the Military Academy at West Point
last session, occupying in his class a position
that secured his appointment to the cavalry service,
a mark of distinction. He was gazetted as second
lieutenant in the Tenth Cavalry, and he enjoys the
honor of being the first colored man who has passed
by all the regular channels into an official station
in the army.

"This young officer is a bright mulatto, tall and
soldierly, with a quiet unobtrusive manner, and the
bearing of a gentleman. As the forerunner of his race
in the position he occupies, he is placed in a delicate
and trying situation, a fact which he realizes. He
remarked that he knew it was one of the requirements of
an officer of the army to be a gentleman, a man of honor
and integrity under all circumstances, and he hoped to
be equal to his duties in this regard. He goes on to
Fort Concho to join his regiment, which is likely to
have work to do soon, if there is anything in the signs
of the times.

"We bespeak for this young officer the just consideration
to which the difficulties of his position entitle him."

I was originally ordered to Fort Concho, but at Houston,
Texas I met my lieutenant-colonel, who informed me that
My company was en route to Fort Sill. My orders were then
changed, and I proceeded to Sill.

Here is another article from a paper in the same place:


"The Age yesterday had a call from Henry O. Flipper
second lieutenant Tenth United States Cavalry, who
is on his way under orders to join his regiment at
Fort Concho. So far there is nothing very unusual
in this item, but interest will be given to it when
we add that Lieutenant Flipper is the first colored
graduate of West Point. He went to the institution
from Georgia, and graduated last June, fifty-fifth
in a class of seventy-six. There is a preponderance
of white blood in his veins, and in general appearance,
except for color, he is a perfect image of Senator
Plumb of Kansas. He reports that since he has struck
the South he has been treated like a gentleman, which
is something different from his experience in the North.
He made the acquaintance of Senator Maxey at West Point--
the Senator himself being a graduate of the Academy--and
regards him as a very pleasant gentleman. During the ten
minutes he spent in the Age editorial rooms several
prominent democrats of the city called to see and shake
hands with him, partly out of curiosity to see the colored
cadet who was so bitterly persecuted by Northern students
at West Point, and partly to bid him a welcome to the
South such as none of his political party friends would
have thought of giving him in the North. Before many
years he will be, as all intelligent colored men will
be, a democrat."

Wherever I have travelled in the South it has been
thrown into my face that the Southern people had,
would, and did treat me better than the Northern
people. This is wholly untrue. It is true that the
men generally speak kindly and treat me with due
courtesy, but never in a single instance has a
Southern man introduced me to his wife or even
invited me to his house. It was done North in every
place I stopped. In many cases, when invited to visit
gentlemen's residences, they have told me they wanted
their wives to meet me. A distinguished New York lady,
whose name has occurred in print several times with
mine, gave me with her own hands a handsome floral
tribute, just after receiving my diploma. During five
months' stay in the South, after my graduation, not a
single Southern white woman spoke to me. I mistake. I
did buy some articles from one who kept a book-store
in a country town in Georgia. This is the only exception.
This is the way Southern people treated me better than
Northern people. The white people (men) of Houston,
Texas, showed me every possible courtesy while I was
there. My treatment there was in high and honorable
contrast to that I received in Atlanta.

Here are two articles that have a few words to say
about me. I adopt and quote them at length:

(From the New York Tribune.)


"The examinations of the boys in the national school
have become an object of national interest this year
more than any other, simply because there is a
stagnation of other news. While the public is waiting
for an outbreak from Kars or the new party, it has
leisure to look into the condition of these incipient
officers. Hence reporters have crowded to West Point,
the Board of Visitors and cadets have both been
quickened to unwonted zeal by the consciousness of
the blaze of notoriety upon them, and the country has
read with satisfaction each morning of searching
examinations and sweeping cavalry charges, giving a
shrug however, at the enthusiastic recommendation of
certain members of the board that the number of yearly
appointments should be doubled or quadrupled. In this
cold ague of economy with which the nation is attacked
just now, and which leaves old army officers unpaid
for a disagreeably long time, the chances of any
addition to the flock in the nest are exceedingly
small. In fact, while the average American in war time
recognized the utility of a trained band of tacticians,
he is apt to grumble at their drain upon his pocket in
piping times of peace. Only last year he relieved himself
in Congress and elsewhere by a good deal of portentous
talking as to the expediency of doing away with the naval
and military free schools altogether. He has, in short,
pretty much the opinion of the army officer that Hodge
has of his parish priest, 'useful enough for Sundays and
funerals, but too consumedly expensive a luxury for week

"This opinion, no doubt, appears simply ludicrous
and vulgar to the gallant young fellows who are
being trained for their country's service up the
Hudson, and who already look upon themselves as its
supports and bulwarks, but there is a substratum of
common-sense in it which we commend to their
consideration, because, if for no other reason, that
the average American is the man who pays their bills
and to whom they owe their education and future
livelihood. If they do not accept his idea of the
conduct and motives of action by which they may
properly repay him the debt they owe, it certainly
is fitting that their own idea should be indisputably
a higher one. We begin to doubt whether it is not much
lower. The country, in establishing this school, simply
proposed to train a band of men skilled to serve it
when needed as tacticians, engineers, or disciplinarians;
the more these men founded their conduct on the bases of
good sense, honor, and republican principles, the better
and higher would be their service. The idea of the boys
themselves, however, within later years, seems to be
that they constitute an aristocratic class (moved by
any thing but republican principles) entitled to lay
down their own laws of good-breeding and honor. Accounts
which reach us of their hazing, etc., and notably their
treatment of the colored cadets, show that these notions
are quite different from those accepted elsewhere. Now
such ideas would be natural in pupils of the great French
or Austrian military schools, where admission testifies
to high rank by birth or to long, patient achievement on
the part of the student. But really our boys at West
Point must remember that they belong to a nation made
up of working and trades men; that they are the sons of
just such people; that the colored laborer helps to pay
for their support as well as that of the representative
of his race who sits beside them. Furthermore, they have
done nothing as yet to entitle them to assume authority
in such matters. They have recited certain lessons,
learned to drill and ride, and to wear their clothes
with precision; but something more is needed. The knight
of old was skilled in gentleness and fine courtesy to the
weak and unfortunate as well as in horsemanship. It was
his manners, not his trousers, which were beyond reproach.

"It is not as trifling a matter as it seems that these
young fellows should thus imbibe mistaken ideas of their
own position or the requirements of real manliness and
good-breeding. The greatest mistakes in the war were in
consequence of just such defects in some of our leading
officers, and the slaughter of the Indians in the South-
West upon two occasions proceeded from their inability
to recognize the rights of men of a different color from
themselves. Even in trifles, however, such matters follow
the rule of inexorable justice--as, for instance, in this
case of Cadet Flipper, who under ordinary circumstances
might have passed without notice, but is now known from
one end of the country to the other as a credit to his
profession in scholarship, pluck, and real dignity; while
his classmates are scarcely mentioned, though higher
in rank, except in relation to their cruel and foolish
conduct toward him."

(From the New York World.)

"WEST POINT, August 29.--In my earnest desire to do
justice to the grand ball last night I neglected to
mention the arrival of the new colored candidate for
admission into the United States, Military Academy,
although I saw him get off at the steamboat lauding
and was a witness to the supreme indifference with
which he was treated, save by a few personal friends.
Minnie passed the physical examination easily, for he
is a healthy mulatto. Whether this stern Alma Mater
will matriculate him is still a question. It is
really astonishing, and perhaps alarming, in view of
the enthusiastic endeavors of the Republican party
to confer upon the colored race all the rights and
privileges of citizens of the United States, to see
with what lofty contempt every candidate for academic
honors who is in the slightest degree 'off color,' is
received. As you are aware, there is at present a
colored, or partly colored, cadet in the Freshman
Class--Whittaker by name. This poor young mulatto is
completely ostracized not only by West Point society,
but most thoroughly by the corps of cadets itself.
Flipper got through all right, and, strange to say,
the cadets seem to have a certain kind of respect for
him, although he was the darkest 'African' that has
yet been seen among the West Point cadets. Flipper
had remarkable pluck and nerve, and was accorded his
parchment--well up on the list, too--at last graduation
day. He is made of sterner staff than poor Whittaker.

"A most surprising fact is that not one of the cadets
--and I think I might safely include the professors--
tries to dissemble his animosity for the black, mulatto,
or octoroon candidate. When I asked a cadet to-day some
questions concerning the treatment of Cadet Whittaker
by the corps, he said : 'Oh, we get along very well,
sir. The cadets simply ignore him, and he understands
very well that we do not intend to associate with him.'
This cadet and several others were asked whether Minnie,
if admitted, would also be ostracized socially. Their
only answer was: 'Certainly; that is well understood by
all. We don't associate with these men, but they have
all the rights that we have nevertheless.' I asked if
he knew whether Whittaker attended the ball last night.
The cadet said he didn't see him at the ball, but that
he might have been looking on from the front stoop! 'How
does this young man Whittaker usually amuse himself when
the rest of the boys are at play?' I asked. 'Well, we
don't get much play, and I think that Whittaker has as
much as he can do to attend to his studies. He managed
to pull through at last examination, but I doubt if he
ever graduates,' was the reply. Meeting another cadet
to whom I had been introduced I asked what he had heard
of the prospects of the new colored candidate, Minnie.
'I haven't heard any thing, but I hope he won't get
through,' said the cadet. Another cadet who stood near
said that the case of Flipper, who graduated so
successfully, was an exceptional one. Flipper didn't care
for any thing except to graduate, but he was confident
that these other colored cadets would fail. So far as I
have been able to ascertain, the Faculty have never
attempted to prevent the colored cadets from having an
equal chance with their white fellows. In fact under the
present management it would be next to impossible for
them to do so."

I can't let this article pass without quoting a few
words from a letter I have from Whittaker, now at West
Point. He says:

"I have been treated bully since I came in from camp
(of summer of '77). Got only one 'skin' last month
(Deccember, '77). I am still under '--' (tactical
officer), and he treats me bully; he wanted to have
a man court-martialled, when we were in camp, for
refusing to close up on me. One day a corporal put
me in the rear rank when there were plebes in the
front rank, and--told him if any such act ever
occurred again he would have him and the file confined
to the guard-house. He has never 'skinned' me since
you left. He is O.K. towards me, and the others are
afraid of him . . . . As I am sitting in my room on
third floor, sixth 'div,' a kind of sadness creeps over
me, for I am all alone. Minnie went home on last Friday.
He was weighed in the 'math' scale and found wanting.
The poor fellow did not study his 'math' and could not
help being 'found.' He was treated fairly and squarely,
but he did not study. I did all I could to help and
encourage him, but it was all in vain. He did not
like--(an instructor) very much, and a carelessness
seized him, which resulted in his dismissal. I was
sorry to see him go away, and he himself regretted it
very much. He saw his great error only when it was
too late. On the day he left he told me that he did
not really study a 'math' lesson since he entered; and
was then willing to give any thing to remain and redeem
himself. He had a very simple subject on examination,
and when he came back he told me that he had not seen
the subject for some two or three weeks before, and he,
consequently, did not know what to put on the board. All
he had on it was wrong, and he could not make his

The World reporter seems to be as ignorant as some
of the others. I was by no means the "darkest 'African'
that has yet been seen among the West Point cadets."
Howard, who reported in 1870 with Smith, was unadulterated,
as also were Werle and White, who reported in 1874. There
were others who were also darker than I am: Gibbs and
Napier, as I am informed. I never saw the last two.

The Brooklyn Eagle is more generous in its views. It
proposes to utilize me. See what it says:

"Probably Lieutenant Flipper could be made much more
useful than as a target for Indian bullets, if our
government would withdraw him from the army and place
him in some colored college, where he could teach the
pupils engineering, so that when they reach Africa they
could build bridges, railroads, etc."

This article was signed by "H. W. B." It is not
difficult to guess who that is.

I have had considerable correspondence with an army
officer, a stranger to me, on this subject of being
detailed at some college. He is of opinion it would
be best for me. I could not agree with him. After I
joined my company an effort (unknown to me) was made
by the Texas Mechanical and Agricultural College to
have me detailed there. It was published in the papers
that I had been so detailed. I made some inquiries,
learned of the above statements, and that the effort
had completely failed. Personally I'd rather remain
with my company. I have no taste and no tact for
teaching. I would decline any such appointment.

(From the Thomasville (Ga.) Times.)

"Wm. Flipper, the colored cadet, has graduated at West
Point and been commissioned as a second lieutenant of
cavalry in the United States Army. He is the first
colored individual who ever held a commission in the
army, and it remains to be seen how the thing will work.
Flipper's father resides here, and is a first-class boot
and shoe maker. A short time back he stated that he had
no idea his son would be allowed to graduate, but he
will be glad to know that he was mistaken."

Of course everybody knows my name is not William.

(From the, Thomasville (Ga.) Enterprise.)

"Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper of the United States Army
is spending a few days here with his father's family,
he has been on the streets very little, spending most
of his time at home. He wears an undress uniform and
deports himself, so far as we have heard, with perfect
propriety. This we believe he has done since his
graduation, with the exception of his unnecessary and
uncalled-for criticisms on the Southern people in his
Atlanta speech. He made a mistake there; one which his
sense and education ought to teach him not to repeat.
Not that it would affect our people, or that they care
about it, but for his own good."*

*In all the places I visited after graduation I was
treated with the utmost respect and courtesy except
in Atlanta. The white people, with one exception,
didn't notice me at all. All foreigners treated me
with all due consideration. One young man, whom I
knew many years, who has sold me many an article,
and awaited my convenience for his pay, and who met
me in New York, and walked and talked with me, hung
his head and turned away from me, just as I was about
to address him on a street in Atlanta. Again and again
have I passed and repassed acquaintances on the streets
without any sign of recognition, even when I have
addressed them. Whenever I have entered any of their
stores for any purpose, they have almost invariably
"gotten off" some stuff about attempts on the part of
the authorities at West Point to "freeze me out," or
about better treatment from Southern boys than from
those of the North. That is how they treated me in
Atlanta, although I had lived there over fourteen years,
and was known by nearly every one in the city. In
Thomasville, Southwest, Ga., where I was born, and which
I had not seen for eighteen years, I was received and
treated by the whites almost as one of themselves.

That "undress uniform" was a "cit" suit of blue
Cheviot. The people there, like those in Atlanta,
don't seem to know a black button from a brass one,
or a civilian suit from a military uniform.

(From the Charleston (S.C.) News and Courier.)


Lieutenant H. O. Flipper, the colored graduate of
West Point, was entertained in style at Tully's,
King Street, Tuesday night. The hosts were a
colored organization called tile Amateur Literary
and Fraternal Association, which determined that
the lieutenant who will leave this city to-day to
join his regiment, the Tenth Cavalry, now in Texas,
should not do so without some evidence of their
appreciation of him personally, and of the fact that
he had reflected credit on their race by passing
through the National Academy. Over forty persons
were at the entertainment, to whom the lieutenant
was presented by A. J. Ransier, the colored ex-member
of Congress. The lieutenant responded briefly, as he
has invariably done, and expressed his warm thanks
for the courtesy shown by the association. A number
of sentiments were offered and speeches made, and the
evening passed off very agreeably to all, especially
so to the recipient of the hospitality.

"Lieutenant Flipper expects to start to-day for Texas.
While he has been in this city he has made friends with
whites and blacks by he sensible course he has pursued."

(From the Charleston (S.C.) Commercial.)


"The Amateur Literary and Fraternal Association, of
which A. J. Ransier is the President, learning that
Lieutenant Flipper, of the United States Cavalry, was
preparing to depart to the position assigned him on
duty on the plains in Texas, at once determined to
give him a reception, and for this purpose the
following committee was appointed to arrange the
details and programme for an entertainment: J. N.
Gregg, W. H. Birny, A. J. Ransier, C. C. Leslie,
and George A. Gibson.

"The arrangements were made, and the members of the
association and invited guests to the number of some
forty, of the most respectable colored people of
Charleston, met last night at Tully's Hall, King
Street, where a bounteous feast was prepared for the
occasion. The guest, Lieutenant Flipper, soon arrived,
and was introduced to the party, and, in the course of
time, all sat down at the table, upon which was spread
the most palatable dishes which the king caterer of
Charleston could prepare. This was vigorously attacked
by all.

"Wines were then brought on, and speech-making
introduced as a set off. A. J. Ransier, in one of
his usual pleasant speeches, introduced Lieutenant
Flipper, paying him a deserved tribute for his
success in the attainment of the first commission
issued to a colored graduate of West Point.

"Lieutenant Flipper, in a brief and courteous speech,
acknowledged the compliment, and thanked the association
for the kind attention paid him, promising them that in
his future career in the army of his country he would
ever strive to maintain a position which would do credit
to his race.

"W. H. Birney next responded in eloquent terms to
the toast, 'The State of South Carolina.' J. N. Gregg
was called upon, and responded in a wise and discreet
manner to the toast of 'The Future of the Colored Man
in this Country.' 'The Press' and 'Woman' were next
respectively toasted, and responded to by Ransier and
F. A. Carmand. Other speeches were made by C. C. Leslie,
J. J. Connor, and others, and at a late hour the party
retired, after a most pleasant evening's enjoyment.
Lieutenant Flipper leaves for Texas to-morrow."

Before closing my narrative I desire to perform a very
pleasant duty. I sincerely believe that all my success
at West Point is due not so much to my perseverance and
general conduct there as to the early moral and mental
training I received at the hands of those philanthropic
men and women who left their pleasant homes in the North
to educate and elevate the black portion of America's
citizens, and that, too, to their own discomfort and
disadvantage. How they have borne the sneers of the
Southern press, the ostracism from society in the South,
the dangers of Kuklux in remote counties, to raise up a
downtrodden race, not for personal aggrandizement, but
for the building up and glory of His kingdom who is no
respecter of persons, is surely worthy our deepest
gratitude, our heartfelt thanks, and our prayers and
blessing. Under the training of a good Christian old
lady, too old for the work, but determined to give her
mite of instruction, I learned to read and to cipher--
this in 1866. From her I was placed under control of a
younger person, a man. From him I passed to the control
of another lady at the famous "Storr's School." I
remained under her for two years more or less, when I
passed to the control of another lady in what was called
a Normal School. From here I went to the Atlanta
University, and prepared for the college course, which
in due time I took up. This course of training was the
foundation of all my after-success. The discipline,
which I learned to heed, because it was good, has been
of incalculable benefit to me. It has restrained and
shaped my temper on many an occasion when to have
yielded to it would have been ruin. It has regulated
my acts when to have committed them as I contemplated
would have been base unmanliness. And it has made my
conduct in all cases towards others generous, courteous,
and Christian, when it might otherwise have been mean,
base, and degrading. It taught me to be meek, considerate,
and kind, and I have verily been benefited by it.

The mind-training has been no less useful. Its
thoroughness, its completeness, and its variety
made me more than prepared to enter on the curriculum
of studies prescribed at West Point. A less thorough,
complete, or varied training would never have led to
the success I achieved. I was not prepared expressly
for West Point. This very thoroughness made me
competent to enter any college in the land.

How my heart looks back and swells with gratitude to
these trainers of my youth! My gratitude is deeply
felt, but my ability to express it is poor. May Heaven
reward them with long years of happiness and usefulness
here, and when this life is over, and its battles won,
may they enter the bright portals of heaven, and at His
feet and from His own hands receive crowns of immortal


JAMES WEBSTER SMITH, a native of South Carolina, was
appointed to a cadetship at the United States Military
Academy at West Point, New York, in 1870, by the Hon.
S. L. Hoge. He reported, as instructed, at the Military
Academy in the early summer of 1870, and succeeded in
passing the physical and intellectual examination
prescribed, and was received as a "conditional cadet."
At the same time one Howard reported, but unfortunately
did not succeed in "getting in."

In complexion Smith was rather light, possibly an
octoroon. Howard, on the contrary, was black. Howard
had been a student at Howard University, as also had
been Smith. Smith, before entering the Academy, had
graduated at the Hartford High School, and was well
prepared to enter upon the new course of studies at
West Point.

In studies he went through the first year's course
without any difficulty, but unfortunately an affaire
d'honneur--a "dipper fight"--caused him to be put back
one year in his studies. In going over this course
again he stood very high in his class, but when it
was finished he began going down gradually until he
became a member of the last section of his class, an
"immortal," as we say, and in constant danger of being

He continued his course in this part of his class
till the end of his second class year, when he was
declared deficient in natural and experimental
philosophy, and dismissed. At this time he had been
in the Academy four years, but had been over only a
three-years' course, and would not have graduated
until the end of the next year, June, 1875.

As to his trials and experiences while a cadet, I
shall permit him to speak. The following articles
embrace a series of letters written by him, after his
dismissal, to the New National Era and Citizen, the
political organ of the colored people, published at
Washington, D. C.:



"COLUMBIA, S.C., July 27,1874.

To the Editor of the National Republican:

"SIR: I saw an article yesterday in one of our local
papers, copied from the Brooklyn Argus, concerning
my dismissal from the Military Academy. The article
referred to closes as follows: 'Though he has written
letters to his friends, and is quite sanguine about
returning and finally graduating, the professors and
cadets say there is not the slightest chance. Said a
professor to a friend, the other day: "It will be a
long time before any one belonging to the colored race
can graduate at West Point."'

"Now, Sir, I would like to ask a few questions
through the columns of your paper concerning these
statements, and would be glad to have them answered
by some of the knowing ones.

"In the first place, what do the professors and
cadets know of my chances for getting back, and
if they know any thing, how did they find it out?
At an interview which I had with the Secretary of
War, on the 17th instant, he stated that he went
to West Point this year for a purpose, and that he
was there both before and after my examination, and
conversed with some of the professors concerning me.
Now, did that visit and those conversations have any
thing to do with the finding of the Academic Board?
Did they have any thing to do with that wonderful
wisdom and foresight displayed by the professors and
cadets in commenting upon my chances for getting back?
Why should the Secretary of War go to West Point this
year 'for a purpose,' and converse with the professors
about me both before and after the examination? Besides,
he spoke of an interview he had had with Colonel Ruger,
Superintendent of the Academy, in New York, on Sunday,
the 12th instant, in reference to me; during which
Colonel Ruger had said that the Academic Board would
not recommend me to return. Is it very wonderful that
the Academic Board should refuse such recommendation
after those very interesting conversations which were
held 'both before and after the recommendation?' Why
was the secretary away from West Point at the time of
the examination.

"In the next place, by what divine power does that
learned oracle, a professor, prophesy that it will
be a long time before any one belonging to the
colored race can graduate at West Point? It seems
that he must have a wonderful knowledge of the negro
that he can tell the abilities of all the colored
boys in America. But it is possible that he is one
of the younger professors, perhaps the professor of
philosophy, and therefore expects to live and preside
over that department for a long time, though to the
unsophisticated mind it looks very much as though he
would examine a colored cadet on the color of his face.

"I think he could express himself better and come much
nearer the truth by substituting shall for can in that
sentence. Of course, while affairs remain at West Point
as they have always been, and are now, no colored boy
will graduate there; but there are some of us who are
sanguine about seeing a change, even if we can't get

"Late Cadet U.S.M.A."


"COLUMBIA, S.C., July 30, 1874.

To the Editor of the New National Era:

As I told you in my last communication, I shall now
proceed to give you an account of my four years' stay
at West Point.

"I reported there on the 31st of May, 1870, and had
not been there an hour before I had been reminded by
several thoughtful cadets that I was 'nothing but a
d--d nigger.' Another colored boy, Howard, of
Mississippi, reported on the same day, and we were
put in the same room, where we stayed until the
preliminary examination was over, and Howard was sent
away, as he failed to pass.

"While we were there we could not meet a cadet
anywhere without having the most opprobrious
epithets applied to us; but after complaining two
or three times, we concluded to pay no attention
to such things, for, as we did not know these
cadets, we could get no satisfaction.

"One night about twelve o'clock some one came into
our room, and threw the contents of his slop-pail
over us while we were asleep. We got to our door
just in time to hear the 'gentleman' go into his
room on the floor above us. This affair reported
itself the next morning at 'Police Inspection,' and
the inspector ordered us to search among the tobacco
quids, and other rubbish on the floor, for something
by which we might identify the perpetrator of the
affair. The search resulted in the finding of an old
envelope, addressed to one McCord, of Kentucky. That
young 'gentleman' was questioned in reference, but
succeeded in convincing the authorities that he had
nothing to do with the affair and knew nothing of it.

"A few days after that, Howard was struck in the
face by that young 'gentleman,' 'because,' as he
says, 'the d--d nigger didn't get out of the way
when I was going into the boot-black's shop.' For
that offence Mr. McCord was confined to his room,
but was never punished, as in a few days thereafter
he failed at the preliminary examination, and was
sent away with all the other unfortunates, including

"On the 28th of June, 1870, those of us who had
succeeded in passing the preliminary examination
were taken in 'plebe camp,' and there I got my taste
of 'military discipline,' as the petty persecutions
of about two hundred cadets were called. Left alone
as I was, by Howard's failure, I had to take every
insult that was offered, without saying any thing,
for I had complained several times to the Commandant
of Cadets, and, after 'investigating the matter,' he
invariably came to the conclusion, 'from the evidence
deduced,' that I was in the wrong, and I was cautioned
that I had better be very particular about any statements
that I might make, as the regulations were very strict
on the subject of veracity.

"Whenever the 'plebes' (new cadets) were turned out to
'police' camp, as they were each day at 5 A.M. and 4
P.M., certain cadets would come into the company street
and spit out quids of tobacco which they would call for
me to pick up. I would get a broom and shovel for the
purpose, but they would immediately begin swearing at
and abusing me for not using my fingers, and then the
corporal of police would order me to put down that broom
and shovel, 'and not to try to play the gentleman here,'
for my fingers were 'made for that purpose.' Finding
there was no redress to be had there, I wrote my friend
Mr. David Clark, of Hartford, Ct., to do something for
me. He had my letter published, and that drew the
attention of Congress to the matter, and a board was
sent to West Point to inquire into the matter and
report thereon. That board found out that several
cadets were guilty of conduct unbecoming a cadet and
a gentleman and recommended that they be court-
martialled, but the Secretary of War thought a
reprimand would be sufficient. Among those reprimanded
were Q. O'M. Gillmore, son of General Gillmore; Alex. B.
Dyer, son of General Dyer; and James H. Reid, nephew of
the Secretary of War (it is said). I was also reprimanded
for writing letters for publication.

"Instead of doing good, these reprimands seemed
only to increase the enmity of the cadets, and they
redoubled their energies to get me into difficulty,
and they went on from bad to worse, until from words
they came to blows, and then occurred that 'little
onpleasantness' known as the 'dipper fight.' On the
13th of August, 1870, I, being on guard, was sent to
the tank for a pail of water. I had to go a distance
of about one hundred and fifty yards, fill the pail by
drawing water from the faucet in a dipper (the faucet
was too low to permit the pail to stand under it), and
return to the guard tent in ten minutes. When I reached
the tank, one of my classmates, J. W. Wilson, was standing
in front of the faucet drinking water from a dipper. He
didn't seem inclined to move, so I asked him to stand
aside as I wanted to get water for the guard. He said:
'I'd like to see any d--d nigger get water before I get
through.' I said: 'I'm on duty, and I've got no time to
fool with you,' and I pushed the pail toward the faucet.
He kicked the pail over, and I set it up and stooped
down to draw the water, and then he struck at me with
his dipper, but hit the brass plate on the front of my
hat and broke his dipper. I was stooping down at the
time, but I stood up and struck him in the face with
my left fist; but in getting up I did not think of a
tent fly that was spread over the tank, and that pulled
my hat down over my eyes. He then struck me in the face
with the handle of his dipper (he broke his dipper at
the first blow), and then I struck him two or three
times with my dipper, battering it, and cutting him
very severely on the left side of 'his head near the
temple. He bled very profusely, and fell on the ground
near the tank.

"The alarm soon spread through the camp, and all the
cadets came running to the tank and swearing vengeance
on the 'd--d nigger.'

"An officer who was in his tent near by came out and
ordered me to be put under guard in one of the guard
tents, where I was kept until next morning, when I
was put 'in arrest.' Wilson was taken to the hospital,
where he stayed two or three weeks, and as soon as he
returned to duty he was also placed in arrest. This
was made the subject for a court-martial, and that
court-martial will form the subject of my next

Yours respectfully,

"Late Cadet U.S.M.A."


"COLUMBIA, S.C., August 7, 1874.

To the Editor of the New National Era:

"SIR: In my last communication I related the
circumstances of the 'dipper fight,' and now we
come to the court-martial which resulted therefrom.

"But there was another charge upon which I was tried
at the same time, the circumstances of which I will

"On the 15th of August, 1870, just two days after the
'dipper fight,' Cadet Corporal Beacom made a report
against me for 'replying in a disrespectful manner to
a file-closer when spoken to at drill, P.M. For this
alleged offence I wrote an explanation denying the
charge; but Cadet Beacom found three cadets who swore
that they heard me make a disrespectful reply in ranks
when Cadet Beacom, as a file-closer on duty, spoke to
me, and the Commandant of Cadets, Lieutenant Colonel
Upton, preferred charges against me for making false

"The court to try me sat in September, with General O.
O. Howard as President. I plead 'not guilty' to the
charge of assault on Cadet Wilson, and also to the
charge of making false statements.

"The court found both Cadet Wilson and myself 'guilty'
of assault, and sentenced us to be confined for two or
three weeks, with some other light punishment in the
form of 'extra duty.'

The finding of the court was approved by President
Grant in the case of Cadet Wilson, but disapproved
in my case, on the ground that the punishment was
not severe enough. Therefore, Cadet W. served his
punishment and I did not serve mine, as there was
no authority vested in the President to increase it.

"On the second charge I was acquitted, for I proved,
by means of the order book of the Academy that there
was no company drill on that day--the 15th of August
--that there was skirmish drill, and by the guard
reports of the same date, that Cadet Beacom and two
of his three witnesses were on guard that day, and
could not have been at drill, even if there had been
one. To some it might appear that the slight
inconsistencies existing between the sworn testimony
of those cadets and the official record of the Academy,
savored somewhat of perjury, but they succeeded in
explaining the matter by saying that 'Cadet Beacom
only made a mistake in date.' Of course he did; how
could it be otherwise? It was necessary to explain it
in some way so that I might be proved a liar to the
corps of cadets, even if they failed to accomplish
that object to the satisfaction of the court.

"I was released in November, after the proceedings
and findings of the court had been returned from
Washington, where they had been sent for the approval
of the President, having been in arrest for three
months. But I was not destined to enjoy my liberty
for any length of time, for on the 13th of December,
same year, I was in the ranks of the guard, and was
stepped on two or three times by Cadet Anderson, one
of my classmates, who was marching beside me.

"As I had had some trouble with the same cadet some
time before, on account of the same thing I believed
that he was doing it intentionally, and as it was very
annoying, I spoke to him about it, saying: "I wish you
would not tread on my toes.' He answered: 'Keep your
d--d toes out of the way.' Cadet Birney, who was
standing near by, then made some invidious remarks
about me, to which I did not condescend to reply. One
of the Cadet Corporals, Bailey, reported me for
'inattention in ranks,' and in my written explanation
of the offence, I detailed the circumstances, but both
Birney and Anderson denied them, and the Commandant of
Cadets took their statement in preference to mine, and
preferred charges against me for falsehood.

"I was court martialled in January, 1871, Captain
Piper, Third Artillery, being President of the court.
By this court I was found I 'guilty,' as I had no
witnesses, and had nothing to expect from the
testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution. Cadet
Corporal Bailey, who made the report, Cadets Birney
and Anderson were the witnesses who convicted me; in
fact they were the only witnesses summoned to testify
in the case. The sentence of the court was that I
should be dismissed, but it was changed to one year's
suspension, or, since the year was almost gone before
the finding of the court was returned from Washington,
where it was sent for the approval of President Grant,
I was put back one year.

"I had no counsel at this trial, as I knew it would be
useless, considering the one-sided condition of affairs.
I was allowed to make the following written statement
of the affair to be placed among the records of the
proceedings of the court:

"'May it please the court: I stand here to-day
charged with a most disgraceful act--one which
not only affects my character, but will, if I am
found guilty, affect it during my whole life--and
I shall attempt, in as few words as possible, to
show that I am as innocent as any person in this
room. I was reported on the 18th of December, 1870,
for a very trivial offence. For this offence I
submitted an explanation to the Commandant of
Cadets. In explanation I stated the real cause of
committing the offence for which I was reported.
But this cause, as stated, involved another cadet,
who, finding himself charged with an act for which
he was liable to punishment, denies all knowledge
of it. He tries to establish his denial by giving
evidence which I shall attempt to prove absurd. On
the morning of the 13th of December, 1870, at guard-
mounting, after the new guard had marched past the
old guard, and the command of "Twos left, halt!" had
been given, the new guard was about two or three yards
to the front and right of the old guard. Then the
command of "Left backward, dress," was given to the
new guard, "Order arms, in place rest." I then turned
around to Cadet Anderson, and said to him, "I wish you
would not tread on my toes." This was said in a moderate
tone, quite loud enough for him to hear. He replied, as
I understood, " Keep your d-d toes out of the way." I
said nothing more, and he said nothing more. I then
heard Cadet Birney say to another cadet--I don't know
who it was--standing by his side, "It (or the thing) is
speaking to Mr. Anderson. If he were to speak to me I
would knock him down." I heard him distinctly, but as
I knew that he was interfering in an affair that did
not concern him, I took no further notice of him, but
turned around to my original position in the ranks.
What was said subsequently I do not know, for I paid
no further attention to either party. I heard nothing
said at any time about taking my eyes away, or of Cadet
Anderson compromising his dignity. Having thus reviewed
the circumstances which gave rise to the charge, may
it please the court, I wish to say a word as to the
witnesses. Each of these cadets testifies to the fact
that they have discussed the case in every particular,
both with each other and with other cadets. That is,
they have found out each other's views and feelings in
respect to it, compared the evidence which each should
give, the probable result of the trial; and one has
even testified that he has expressed a desire as to
the result. Think you that Cadet Birney, with such a
desire in his breast, influencing his every thought
and word, with such an end in view, could give evidence
unbiassed, unprejudiced, and free from that desire that
"Cadet Smith might be sent away and proved a liar?"
Think you that he could give evidence which should be
"the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
so help me God?" It seems impossible for me to have
justice done me by the evidence of such witnesses, but
I will leave that for the court to decide. There is
another question here which must be answered by the
finding of the court. It is this: "Shall Cadet Smith
be allowed to complain to the Commandant of Cadets when
he considers himself unjustly dealt with?" When the
court takes notice of the fact that this charge and
these specifications are the result of a complaint made
by me, it will agree with me as to the importance its
findings will have in answering that question. As to
what the finding will be, I can say nothing; but if the
court is convinced that I have lied, then I shall expect
a finding and sentence in accordance with such
conviction. A lie is as disgraceful to one man as another,
be he white or black, and I say here, as I said to the
Commandant of Cadets, "If I were guilty of falsehood, I
should merit and expect the same punishment as any other
cadet;" but, as I said before, I am as innocent of this
charge as any person in this room. The verdict of an
infallible judge--conscience-- is, "Not guilty," and that
is the finding I ask of this court.

"Respectfully submitted.

(Signed) "'J. W. SMITH,
"'Cadet U.S.M.A.'

"'Thus ended my second and last court-martial.

"Yours respectfully,

"Late Cadet U.S.M.A."


To the Editor of the New National Era:

"SIR: In relating the events of my first year at West
Point, I omitted one little affair which took place,
and I will now relate the circumstances. One Sunday,
at dinner, I helped myself to some soup, and one cadet,
Clark, of Kentucky, who sat opposite me at table, asked
me what I meant by taking soup before he had done so. I
told him that I took it because I wished it, and that
there was a plenty left. He seemed to be insulted at
that, and asked: 'Do you think I would eat after a d--d
Nigger?' I replied: 'I have not thought at all on the
subject, and, moreover, I don't quite understand you,
as I can't find that last word in the dictionary.' He
then took up a glass and said he would knock my head
off. I told him to throw as soon as he pleased, and as
soon as he got through I would throw mine. The commandant
of the table here interfered and ordered us to stop
creating a disturbance at the table, and gave me to
understand that thereafter I should not touch any thing
on that table until the white cadets were served.

"When we came back from dinner, as I was going into
my room, Cadet Clark struck at me from behind. He hit
me on the back of my neck, causing me to get into my
room with a little more haste than I anticipated, but
he did not knock me down. He came into my room,
following up his advantage, and attempted to take me
by the throat, but he only succeeded in scratching me
a little with his nails, as I defended myself as well
as possible until I succeeded in getting near my bayonet,
which I snatched from the scabbard and then tried to put
it through him. But being much larger and stronger than
I, he kept me off until he got to the door, but then he
couldn't get out, for some one was holding the door on
the outside, for the purpose, I suppose, of preventing
my escape, as no doubt they thought I would try to get
out. There were a great many cadets outside on the
stoop, looking through the window, and cheering their
champion, with cries of 'That's right, Clark; kill the
d--d nigger,' 'Choke him,' 'Put a head on him,' etc.,
but when they saw him giving way before the bayonet,
they cried, 'Open the door, boys,' and the door was
opened, and Mr. Clark went forth to rejoice in the
bosom of his friends as the hero of the day. The
cadet officer of the day 'happened around' just after
Clark had left, and wanted to know what did I mean by
making all that noise in and around my quarters. I
told him what the trouble was about, and soon after
I was sent for by the 'officer in charge,' and
questioned in reference to the affair. Charges were
preferred against Clark for entering my room and
assaulting me, but before they were brought to trial
he sent two of his friends tome asking if I would
withdraw the charges providing he made a written
apology. I told these cadets that I would think of
the matter and give them a definite answer the next

"I was perfectly well satisfied that he would be
convicted by any court that tried him; but the cadets
could easily prove (according to their way of giving
evidence) that I provoked the assault, and I, besides,
was utterly disgusted with so much wrangling, so when
the cadets called that evening I told them that if his
written apology was satisfactory I would sign it, submit
it to the approval of the Commandant of Cadets, and
have the charges withdrawn.

"They then showed me the written apology offered by
Clark, in which he stated that his offence was caused
by passion, because he thought that when I passed him
on the steps in going to my room I tried to brush
against him. He also expressed his regret for what he
had done, and asked forgiveness. I was satisfied with
his apology, and signed it, asking that the charges be
withdrawn, which was done, of course, and Clark was
released from arrest. I will, in justice to Cadet
Clark, state that I never had any further trouble with
him, for, while he kept aloof from me, as the other
cadets did, he alway thereafter acted perfectly fair
by me whenever I had any official relations with him.

"A few days after the settlement of our dispute I found,
on my return from fencing one day, that some one had
entered my room and had thrown all my clothes and other
property around the floor, and had thrown the water out
of my water-pail upon my bed. I immediately went to the
guard-house and reported the affair to the officer of
the day, who, with the 'officer in charge,' came to my
room to see what had been done. The officer of the day
said that he had inspected my quarters soon after I went
to the Fencing Academy and found everything in order,
and that it must have been done within a half hour. The
Commandant of the Cadets made an investigation of the
matter, but could not find out what young 'gentleman'
did it, for every cadet stated that he knew nothing of
it, although the corps of cadets has the reputation of
being a truthful set of young men.

"'Upon my honor as a cadet and a gentleman,'" is a
favorite expression with the West Point cadet; but
what kind of honor is that by which a young man can
quiet his conscience while telling a base falsehood
for the purpose of shielding a fellow-student from
punishmen for a disgraceful act? They boast of the
esprit de corps existing among the cadets; but it is
merely a cloak for the purpose of covering up their
iniquities and silencing those (for there are some)
who would, if allowed to act according to the dictates
of their own consciences, be above such disgraceful
acts. Some persons might attribute to me the same
motives that actuated the fox in crying 'sour grapes,'
and to such I will say that I never asked for social
equality at West Point. I never visited the quarters
of any professor, official, or cadet except on duty,
for I did not wish any one to think that I was in any
way desirous of social recognition by those who felt
themselves superior to me on account of color. As I
was never recognized as 'a cadet and a gentleman,' I
could not enjoy that blessed privilege of swearing
'upon my honor,' boasting of my share in the esprit de
corps, nor of concealing my sins by taking advantage of
them. Still, I hope that what I lost (?) by being
deprived of these little benefits will be compensated
for the 'still small voice,' which tells me that I have
done my best.

"Yours respectfully,

"Late Cadet U.S.M.A."

COLUMBIA, S.C., August 19, 1874.

To the Editor of the New National Era:

"SIR: My communications, thus far, have brought me
to the end of my first year at the Academy, and now
we come to the events of the second. In June of 1871,
the proverbial silver lining, which the darkest cloud
is said to have, began to shine very faintly in the
West Point firmament, and I thought that at last the
darkness of my cadet life was to be dispelled by the
appearance above the horizon of another colored cadet.
And, indeed, I was not disappointed, for, one day, I
was greeted by the familiar face and voice of Mr. H. A.
Napier, a former fellow-student at Howard University.
Soon after his arrival, and admittance, the corps of
'cadets, accompanied by the 'plebes,' took up quarters
in camp-- 'plebe camp' to the latter, and 'yearling
camp' to us who had entered the previous year.

"During the cadet encampment there are certain dances
given three times each week, known as 'Cadet Hops.'
These 'hops' are attended by the members of the first
and third classes, and their lady friends, and no
'plebe' ever has the assurance of dreaming of
attending the 'hops' until he shall have risen to
the dignity of a 'yearling'--third-classman. So long
as I was a 'plebe,' no one anticipated any such dire
calamity as that I would attend the 'hops,' but as
soon as I became a 'yearling,' and had a perfect right
to go, if I wished, there was a great hue and cry
raised that the sanctity of the 'hop' room was to be
violated by the colored cadet.

"Meetings were held by the different classes, and
resolutions passed to the effect that as soon as
the colored cadet entered the 'hop' room, the 'hop'
managers were to declare the 'hop' ended, and dismiss
the musicians. But the 'hops' went on undisturbed
by the presence of the colored cadet for two or three
weeks, and all began to get quiet again, when one day
my brother and sister, with a couple of lady friends
whom they had come to visit, came to camp to see me.

"This started afresh the old report about the 'hops,'
and every one was on the qui vive to get a glimpse of
'nigger Jim and the nigger wenches who are going to
the hops,' as was remarked by a cadet who went up from
the guard tent to spread the alarm through camp.

"In a few minutes thereafter the 'gentlemen' had all
taken position at the end of the 'company street,' and,
with their opera-glasses, were taking observations upon
those who, as they thought, had come to desecrate the
'hop' room. I was on guard that day, but not being on
post at that time, I was sitting in rear of the guard
tents with my friends--that place being provided with
camp-stools for the accommodation of visitors-- when a
cadet corporal, Tyler, of Kentucky, came and ordered me
to go and fasten down the corner of the first guard tent,
which stood a few paces from where we were sitting.

"I went to do so, when he came there also, and
immediately began to rail at me for being so slow,
saying he wished me to know that when he ordered
me to do anything, I must 'step out' about it, and
not try to shirk it. I said nothing, but fastened
down the corner of the tent, and went back to where
my friends were.

"In a few minutes afterwards he came back, and wanted to
know why I hadn't fastened down that tent wall. I told
him that I had.

"He said it was not fastened then, and that he did not
wish any prevarication on my part.

"I then told him that he had no authority to charge
me with prevarication, and that if he believed that
I had not fastened down the tent wall, the only thing
he could do was to report me. I went back to the tent
and found that either Cadet Tyler or some other cadet
had unfastened the tent wall, so I fastened it down
again. Nothing now was said to me by Cadet Tyler, and
I went back to where my friends were: but we had been
sitting there only about a half hour, when a private
soldier came to us and said, 'It is near time for
parade, and you will have to go away from here.' I
never was more surprised in my life, and I asked the
soldier what he meant, for I surely thought be was
either drunk or crazy, but he said that the
superintendent had given him orders to allow no
colored persons near the visitors' seats during parade.

"I asked him if he recognized me as a cadet. He said
he did. I then told him that those were my friends;
that I had invited them there to see the parade, and
that they were going to stay. He said he had nothing
to do with me, of course, but that he had to obey the
orders of the superintendent. I then went to the officer
of the guard, who was standing near by, and stated the
circumstances to him, requesting him to protect us from
such insults. He spoke to the soldier, saying that he
had best not try to enforce that order, as the order was
intended to apply to servants, and then the soldier went
off and left us.

"Soon after that the drum sounded for parade, and
I was compelled to leave my friends for the purpose
of falling in ranks, but promising to return as soon
as the parade was over, little thinking that I should
not be able to redeem that promise; but such was the
case, as I shall now proceed to show.

"Just as the companies were marching off the parade
ground, and before the guard was dismissed, the
'officer in charge,' Lieutenant Charles King, Fifth
Cavalry, came to the guard tent and ordered me to
step out of ranks three paces to the front, which I

"He then ordered me to take off my accoutrements and
place them with my musket on the gun rack. That being
done, he ordered me to take my place in the centre of
the guard as a prisoner, and there I stood until the
ranks were broken, when I was put in the guard tent.
Of course my friends felt very bad about it, as they
thought that they were the cause of it, while I could
Not speak a word to them, as they went away; and even
if I could have spoken to them, I could not have
explained the matter, for I did not know myself why I
had been put there--at least I did not know what charge
had been trumped up against me, though I knew well
enough that I had been put there for the purpose of
keeping me from the 'hop,' as they expected I would go.
The next morning I was put 'in arrest' for 'disobedience
of orders in not fastening down tent wall when ordered,'
and 'replying in a disrespectful manner to a cadet
corporal,' etc.; and thus the simplest thing was
magnified into a very serious offence, for the purpose
of satisfying the desires of a few narrow-minded cadets.
That an officer of the United States Army would allow
his prejudices to carry him so far as to act in that
way to a subordinate, without giving him a chance to
speak a word in his defence--nay, without allowing him
to know what charge had been made against him, and that
he should be upheld in such action by the 'powers that
be,' are sufficient proof to my mind of the feelings
which the officers themselves maintained towards us.
While I was in ranks, during parade, and my friends
were quietly sitting down looking at the parade, another
model 'officer and gentleman,' Captain Alexander Piper,
Third Artillery--he was president of my second court-
martial--came up, in company with a lady, and ordered
my brother and sister to get up and let him have their
camp-stools, and he actually took away the camp-stools
and left them standing, while a different kind of a
gentleman--an 'obscure citizen,' with no aristocratic
West Point dignity to boast of--kindly tendered his
camp-stool to my sister.

"I only wish I knew the name of that gentleman; but I
could not see him then, or I should certainly have
found it out, though in answer to my brother's question
as to his name, he simply replied, 'I am an obscure
citizen.' What a commentary on our 'obscure citizens,'
who know what it is to be gentlemen in something else
besides the name--gentlemen in practice, not only in
theory--and who can say with Burns that 'a mans a man
for a' that,' whether his face be as black as midnight
or as white as the driven snow.

"There is something in such a man which elevates him
above many others who, having nothing else to boast of,
can only say, 'I am a white man, and am therefore your
superior,' or 'I am a West Point graduate, and therefore
an officer and a gentleman.'

"After the usual 'investigation' by the Commandant of
Cadets, I was sentenced to be confined to the 'company
street' until the 15th of August, about five weeks, so
that I could not get out to see my brother and sister
after that, except when I was at drill, and then I could
not speak to them. I tried to get permission to see them
in the 'Visitors' Tent' the day before they left the
'Point' on their return home, but my permit was not
granted, and they left without having the privilege of
saying 'Good-by.'

"I must say a word in reference to the commandant's
method of making 'investigations.' After sending for
Cadet Corporal Tyler and other white cadets, and
hearing their side of the story in reference to the
tent wall and the disrespectful reply, he sent for
me to hear what I had to say, and after I had given
my version of the affair, he told me that I must
surely be mistaken, as my statement did not coincide
with those of the other cadets, who were unanimous
in saying that I used not only disrespectful, but
also profane language while addressing the cadet
corporal. I told him that new Cadet Napier and my
brother were both there and heard the conversation,
and they would substantiate my statement if allowed
to testify. He said he was convinced that I was in
the wrong, and he did not send for either of them.
What sort of justice is that which can be meted out
to one without allowing him to defend himself, and
even denying him the privilege of calling his evidence?
What a model Chief Justice the Commandant of Cadets
would make, since he can decide upon the merits of the
case as soon as he has heard one side. Surely he has
missed his calling by entering the army, or else the
American people cannot appreciate true ability,
for that 'officer and gentleman' ought now to be
wearing the judicial robe so lately laid down by the
lamented Chase.

"In reply to my complaint about the actions of the
soldier in ordering my friends away from the visitors'
seats, he said that the soldier had misunderstood his
orders, as the superintendent had told him to keep the
colored servants on the 'Point' from coming in front
of the battalion at parade, and that it was not meant
to apply to my friends, who could come there whenever
they wished.

"It seems, though, very strange to me that the soldier
could misunderstand his orders, when he saw me sitting
there in company with them, for it is one of the
regulations of the Academy which forbids any cadet to
associate with a servant, and if I had been seen doing
such a thing I would have been court-martialled for
'conduct unbecoming a cadet and a gentleman."

"The cadets were, of course, very much rejoiced
at my being 'in arrest,' and after my sentence
had been published at parade, they had quite a
jubilee over it, and boasted of 'the skill and
tact which Cadet Tyler had shown in putting the
nigger out of the temptation of taking those black
wenches to the hops.' They thought, no doubt, that
their getting me into trouble frightened me out of
any thoughts I might have had of attending the 'hops;'
but if I had any idea of going to the 'hops,' I should
have been only more determined to go, and should have
done so as soon as my term of confinement was ended.
I have never thought of going to the 'hops,' for it
would be very little pleasure to go by myself, and I
should most assuredly not have asked a lady to subject
herself to the insults consequent upon going there.
Besides, as I said before, I did not go to West Point
for the purpose of advocating social equality, for
there are many cadets in the corps with whom I think
it no honor for any one to associate, although they are
among the high-toned aristocrats, and will, no doubt,
soon be numbered among the 'officers and gentlemen' of
the United States Army.

"Yours respectfully,

"Late Cadet U.S.M.A."


"COLUMBIA, S.C., August 25, 1874.

To the Editor of the New National Era:

"SIR: The following article appeared in the Washington
Chronicle of the 14th inst., and as I feel somewhat
interested in the statements therein contained, I
desire to say a few words in reference to them. The
article referred to reads as follows:

"'The recent attack of the colored, ex-Cadet Smith
upon the Board of Visitors at West Point has attracted
the attention of the officers of the War Department.
They say that the Secretary of War was extremely liberal
in his interpretation of the regulations on behalf of
Cadet Smith, and that he did for him what had never been
done for a white boy in like circumstances. The officers
also say that Smith was manifestly incompetent, that he
had a fair examination, and that the Congressional Board
of Visitors unanimously testified to his incompetency.'

"Now, sir, I am at a loss to know what are 'the recent
attacks of the colored ex-Cadet Smith upon the Board of
Visitors,' for I am not aware that I have said any thing,
either directly or indirectly, concerning the Board of
Visitors. My remarks thus far have been confined to the
Academic Board and Secretary of War.

"As the members of the Board of Visitors were simply
spectators, and as they were not present when I was
examined, I had no reason to make any 'attack' upon
them, and, therefore, as I said before, confined my
remarks (or 'attacks,' if that word is more acceptable
to the Chronicle) to those who acted so unjustly toward

"As to the extreme liberality of the Secretary of War,
in his interpretation of the regulations on behalf of
Cadet Smith, and that he did for him what he had never
'done for a white boy in like circumstances,' I hardly
know what to say; for such absurd cant seems intended
to excite the laughter of all who know the circumstances
of the case. What devoted servants those officers of the
War Department must be, that they can see in their chief
so much liberality!

"But in what respect was the Secretary of War so
'liberal in his interpretation of the regulations?'

"Was it in dismissing me, and turning back to a lower
class two white cadets who had been unable to complete
successfully the first year of the course with everything
in their favor, while I had completed three years of the
same course in spite of all the opposition which the whole
corps of cadets, backed by the 'powers that be,' could
throw in my way? Or was it his decision that 'I can give
Mr. Smith a re-examination, but I won't?' The Chronicle
is perfectly correct in saying 'that he did for him what
had never been done for a white boy in like circumstances,'
for, in the first place, I don't think there ever was 'a
white boy in like circumstances,' certainly not while I
was at the Academy, and if there ever were a white boy so
placed, we are pretty safe in concluding, from the general
treatment of white boys, that the secretary was not so
frank in his remarks nor so decided in his action.

"'I want another cadet to represent your district at
West Point, and I have already sent to Mr. Elliott to
appoint one,' means something more than fair dealing
(or, as the Chronicle would imply, partiality) toward
the colored cadet. It means that the gentleman was
pleasing himself in the choice of a cadet from the
Third Congressional District of South Carolina, and
that he did not recognize the rights of the people of
that district to choose for themselves. 'You are out
of the service and will stay out,' for 'the Academic
Board will not recommend you to come back under any
circumstances,' shows that it is the Academic Board
That must choose our representative, and not we
ourselves, and that our wishes are only secondary in
comparison with those of the service and the Academic
Board. We are no longer free citizens of a sovereign
State, and of the United States, with the right to
choose for ourselves those who shall represent us; but
we must be subordinate to the Secretary of War and the
Academic Board, and must make our wishes subservient to
those of the above-named powers, and unless we do that
we are pronounced to be 'naturally bad'--as remarked
the Adjutant of the Academy, Captain R. H. Hall, to a
Sun reporter--and must have done for us 'what had never
been done for a white boy in like circumstances.' Now,
sir, let us see what has 'been done for a white boy in
like circumstances.' In July, 1870, the President was
in Hartford, Ct., and in a conversation with my friend
the Hon. David Clark, in reference to my treatment at
West Point, he said: 'Don't take him away now; the battle
might just as well be fought now as at any other time,'
and gave him to understand that he would see me protected
in my rights; while his son Fred, who was then a cadet,
said to the same gentleman, and in the presence of his
father, that 'the time had not come to send colored boys
to West Point.' Mr. Clark said if the time had come for
them to be in the United States Senate, it had surely
come for them to be at West Point, and that he would do
all in his power to have me protected. Fred Grant then
said: 'Well, no d--d nigger will ever graduate from West
Point.' This same young gentleman, with other members of
his class, entered the rooms of three cadets, members of
the fourth class, on the night of January 3, 1871, took
those cadets out, and drove them away from the 'Point,'
with nothing on but the light summer suits that they wore
when they reported there the previous summer. Here was a
most outrageous example of Lynch law, disgraceful alike
to the first class, who were the executors of it, the
corps of cadets, who were the abettors of it, and the
authorities of the Academy, who were afraid to punish the
perpetrators because the President's son was implicated,
or, at least, one of the prime movers of the affair.
Congress took the matter in hand, and instructed the
Secretary of War to dismiss all the members of the class
who were implicated, but the latter gentleman 'was
extremely liberal in his interpretation of the
regulations,' and declined to be influenced by the action
of Congress, and let the matter drop.

"Again, when a Court of Inquiry, appointed by Congress to
investigate complaints that I had made of my treatment,
reported in favor of a trial by court-martial of General
Gillmore's son, General Dyer's son, the nephew of the
Secretary of War, and some other lesser lights of America's
aristocracy, the secretary decided that a reprimand was
sufficient for the offence; yet 'he did for me what had
never been done for a white boy in like circumstances.'
Now, sir, by consulting my Register of the Academy, issued
in 1871, I find that three cadets of the fourth class were
declared 'deficient ' in mathematics--Reid, Boyle, and
Walker--and that the first named was turned back to join
the next class, while the other two were dismissed. Now
Reid is the Secretary's nephew, so that is the reason for
his doing 'for him what had never been done for a white
boy in like circumstances.'

"Mr. Editor, I have no objection whatever to any
favoritism that may be shown 'any member of the Royal.
Family, so long as it does not infringe upon any right
of my race or myself; but when any paper tries to show
that I have received such impartial treatment at the
hands of 'the powers that be,' and even go so far, in
their zealous endeavors to shield any one from charges
founded upon facts, as to try to make it appear that I
was a favorite, a pet lamb, or any other kind of a pet,
at West Point, I think it my duty to point out any errors
that may accidentally (?) creep into such statements.

"'The officers also say that Smith was manifestly
incompetent, that he had a fair examination,' etc. What
officers said that? Those of the War Department, whose
attention was attracted by the 'recent attacks on the
Board of Visitors,' or those who decided the case at
West Point? In either case, it is not surprising that
they should say so, for one party might feel jealous
because 'the Secretary of War was extremely liberal
in his interpretation of the regulations on behalf of
Cadet Smith, and that he did for him what had never
been done for a white boy in like circumstances,' while
the other party might have been actuated by the desire
to prove that 'no colored boy can ever graduate at West
Point,' or, as the young gentleman previously referred
to said, 'No d--d nigger shall ever graduate at West
Point.' As for the unanimous testimony of the Board of
Visitors, I can only say that I know not on what ground
such testimony is based, for, as I said before, the
members of that board were not in the library when I
was examined in philosophy; but perhaps, this is only
one of the 'they says' of the officers. There are some
things in this case which are not so manifest as my
alleged incompetency, and I would like to bring them to
the attention of the Chronicle, and of any others who
may feel interested in the matter. There has always been
a system of re-examinations at the Military Academy for
the purpose of giving a second chance to those cadets
who failed at the regular examination. This year the re-
examinations were abolished; but for what reason? It is
true that I had never been re-examined, but does it not
appear that the officers had concluded 'that Smith was
manifestly incompetent,' and that this means was taken
to deprive me of the benefit of a re-examination when
they decided that I was 'deficient?' Or was it done so
that the officers might have grounds for saying that 'he
did for him what had never been done for a white boy in
like circumstances?' Again, the examinations used to be
public; but this year two sentinels were posted at the
door of the library, where the examinations were held,
and when a visitor came he sent in his card by one
of the sentinels, while the other remained at the door,
and was admitted or not at the discretion of the
superintendent. It is said that this precaution was
taken because the visitors disturbed the members of the
Academic Board by walking across the floor. Very good
excuse, for the floor was covered with a very thick
carpet. We must surely give the Academic Board credit
for so much good judgment and foresight, for it would
have been a very sad affair, indeed, for those gentlemen
to have been made so nervous (especially the Professor
of Philosophy) as to be unable to see how 'manifestly
incompetent' Cadet Smith was, and it would have deprived
the Secretary of War of the blissful consciousness that
'he did for him what had never been done for a white boy
in like circumstances,' besides losing the privilege of
handing down to future generations the record of his
extreme liberality 'in his interpretation of the
regulations on behalf of Cadet Smith.'

"Oh, that this mighty deed might be inscribed on a
lasting leather medal and adorn the walls of the War
Department, that it might act as an incentive to some
future occupant of that lofty station! I advise the
use of leather, because if we used any metal it might
convey to our minds the idea of 'a sounding brass or a
tinkling cymbal.'

"Respectfully yours,

"Late Cadet U.S.M.A."


"We publish this morning an account of Cadet Smith's
standing at West Point, which should be taken with a
few grains of allowance. The embryo colored soldier
and all his friends--black, white and tan--believe
that the administrationists have used him shamefully,
especially in view of their professions and of the
chief source of their political strength. Grant went
into the White House by means of colored votes, and
his shabby treatment of the first member of the dusky
army who reached the point of graduation in the country's
military school, is a sore disappointment to them.

"Cadet Smith has been a thorn in the side of the
Administration from the start. He could not be bullied
out or persecuted out of the institution by the insults
or menaces of those who, for consistency's sake, should
have folded him to their bosoms. He stood his ground
bravely, and much against the will of its rulers. West
Point was forced to endure his unwelcome presence up to
the time of graduation. At that point a crisis was
reached. If the odious cadet were allowed to graduate,
his commission would entitle him to assignment in our
much-officered army, which contains Colonel Fred Grant
and a host of other favorites whose only service has
been of the Captain Jinks order. The army revolted at
the idea. Theoretically they were and are sound on the
nigger, but they respectfully and firmly objected to a
practical illustration. The Radical General Belknap was
easily convinced that the assignment of the unoffending
Smith to duty would cause a lack of discipline in any
regiment that would be fearful to contemplate.

"Something must be done, and that something was quickly
accomplished. They saved the army and the dignity of the
horse marines by sacrificing the cadet. To do so, some
tangible cause must be alleged, and a deficiency in

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