- Year Published: 1878
- Language: English
- Country of Origin: United States of America
- Source: Flipper, H. O. (1878). The Colored Cadet at West Point. New York, NY: Homer Lee & Co.
- Flesch–Kincaid Level: 10.1
- Word Count: 18,291
Flipper, H. (1878). Chapter 15: Graduation—In the Army. The Colored Cadet at West Point (Lit2Go Edition). Retrieved May 29, 2015, from
Flipper, Henry O.. "Chapter 15: Graduation—In the Army." The Colored Cadet at West Point. Lit2Go Edition. 1878. Web. <>. May 29, 2015.
Henry O. Flipper, "Chapter 15: Graduation—In the Army," The Colored Cadet at West Point, Lit2Go Edition, (1878), accessed May 29, 2015,.
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 follows:
LIEUTENANT FLIPPER, THE COLORED GRADUATE OF WEST POINT.
"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 equation:
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.
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.
UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE,
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,
OFFICE OF THE POSTMASTER,
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.
West Point Military Academy.
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.
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.'
"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 for.
The New York Herald again speaks, and that about not hearing my voice, etc., made me "larf." Here is the article:
"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 studies.
"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 remark.
"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,
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 graduation.
"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."
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 sly."
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 hue."
"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:
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 persecution."
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 cowardice."
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."
TWO HUNDRED OF HIS NEW YORK ADMIRERS HONORING HIM WITH A RECEPTION.
"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 others.
"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."
"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."
LIEUTENANT FLIPPER IN NEW YORK—HIS RECEPTION— CALLS ON BELKNAP.
"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."
HIS RECEPTION UPON HIS RETURN HOME—EAGERNESS TO SHAKETHE HAND OF THE "BAD MAN WID DE GUB'MENT STROPSON!"—A SOCIAL RECEPTION ON MONDAY NIGHT.
"'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.
"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 Bourbons."
"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 attending.
"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.
"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."
FREEMAN'S PROTEGE ON SOUTHERN CIVILIZATION—HE TALKS AT THE RECEPTION AND MAKES OF HIMSELF AN ASS—THE ANOMALOUS CREATURE ON EXHIBITION—HE SHOWS THE CLOVENFOOT.
"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 compliments.'
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 audience.
"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:
"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 general!
"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! Oh!
"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?
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:
"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."
"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 failures.
"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 inspection.
"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 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 up."
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.
"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.
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:
"'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 promise.
"'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.
"'Second Lieutenant Tenth U. S. Cavalry.
"'CHARLESTON, S.C., October 19, 1877.'"
10 MARY STREET, CHARLESTON, S.C.,
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 nations:
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.
Pastor of Morris Brown Chapel.
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.
Rooms OF THE LIBERIA EXODUS ASSOCIATION, 10 MARY STREET, CHARLESTON, S.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.
Pastor Morris Brown A.M.E. Church.
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 following:
"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."
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.
"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:
"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 days.'
"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."
"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 demonstration."
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.
"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."
"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.
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."
"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 glory.