First African American graduate of West Point

Henry Ossian Flipper, born into slavery in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1856, becomes the first African American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York on June 14, 1877. 

The United States Military Academy—the first military school in America—was founded by Congress in 1802 for the purpose of educating and training young men in the theory and practice of military science. Established at West Point, New York, the U.S. Military Academy is often simply known as West Point.

In 1870, the first African American cadet, James Webster Smith, was admitted to West Point but never reached the graduation ceremonies. It was not until 1877 that Henry Ossian Flipper became the first Black cadet to graduate.

on this day 6/15 ~1983 – The U.S. Supreme Court

1215 – King John of England put his seal on the Magna Carta.

1381 – The English peasant revolt was crushed in London.

1389 – Ottoman Turks crushed Serbia in the Battle of Kosovo.

1607 – Colonists in North America completed James Fort in Jamestown, VA.

1667 – Jean-Baptiste Denys administered the first fully-documented human blood transfusion. He successfully transfused the blood of a sheep to a 15-year old boy.

1752 – Benjamin Franklin experimented by flying a kite during a thunderstorm. The result was a little spark that showed the relationship between lightning and electricity.

1775 – George Washington was appointed head of the Continental Army by the Second Continental Congress.

1836 – Arkansas became the 25th U.S. state.

1844 – Charles Goodyear was granted a patent for the process that strengthens rubber.

1846 – The United States and Britain settled a boundary dispute concerning the boundary between the U.S. and Canada, by signing a treaty.

1864 – An order to establish a military burial ground was signed by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. The location later became known as Arlington National Cemetery.

1866 – Prussia attacked Austria.

1877 – Henry O. Flipper became the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

1898 – The U.S. House of representatives approved the annexation of Hawaii.

1909 – Benjamin Shibe patented the cork center baseball.

1911 – The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Co. was incorporated in the state of New York. The company was later renamed International Business Machines (IBM) Corp.

1916 – U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America.

1917 – Great Britain pledged the release of all the Irish captured during the Easter Rebellion of 1916.

1919 – Captain John Alcock and Lt. Arthur W. Brown won $50,000 for successfully completing the first, non-stop trans-Atlantic plane flight.

1938 – Johnny Vandemeer (Cincinnati Reds) pitched his second straight no-hitter.

1940 – The French fortress of Verdun was captured by Germans.

1944 – American forces began their successful invasion of Saipan during World War II.

1947 – The All-Indian Congress accepted a British plan for the partition of India.

1948 – Soviet authorities announced that the Autobahn would be closed indefinitely “for repairs.”

1958 – Greece severed military ties to Turkey because of the Cypress issue.

1964 – The last French troops left Algeria.

1978 – King Hussein of Jordan married 26-year-old American Lisa Halaby, who became Queen Noor.

1981 – The U.S. agreed to provide Pakistan with $3 billion in military and economic aid from October 1982 to October 1987.

1982 – In the capital city of Stanley, the Falklands war ended as Argentine troops surrendered to the British.

1983 – The U.S. Supreme Court reinforced its position on abortion by striking down state and local restriction on abortions.

1986 – Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, reported that the chief engineer of the Chernobyl nuclear plant was dismissed for mishandling the incident at the plant.

1992 – It was ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court that the government could kidnap criminal suspects from foreign countries for prosecution.

1992 – U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle instructed a student to spell “potato” with an “e” on the end during a spelling bee. He had relied on a faulty flash card that had been written by the student’s teacher.

1994 – Israel and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations.

1999 – South Korean naval forces sank a North Korean torpedo boat during an exchange in the disputed Yellow Sea.

King John puts his seal on Magna Carta


History Stories

6 Things You May Not Know About Magna Carta

1. We know who signed it, but we’ll never be sure who wrote it.

Magna Carta was an agreement between King John and a group of English barons in response to years of the king’s misrule and excessive taxation. Despite a closing line suggesting the charter was “Given by [John’s] hand,” the charter was more or less forced on him by the barons. Many 19th-century historians suggested that the charter was written by one of its most influential signers, Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. However, the document’s exact wording was likely the product of months of back-and-forth negotiations between the king and his noblemen.

2. Though considered a founding document, Magna Carta had plenty of precedents.

The roots of Magna Carta are found in other charters granted by English kings at the beginning of their reigns. In 1100, Henry I had issued a 20-clause coronation charter, promising to rule justly, offer the church greater financial freedom and reduce royal meddling in the marriages and family inheritances of his barons. Although Henry kept few of these promises, his charter nonetheless served as a basis for the barons’ negotiations in 1215. Magna Carta was unique, however, in several respects, including its length and detail, its timing (it had been 60 years since the last royal charter) and the fact that it was less an offering by the king to his nobles than a demand by the nobles to their king.

Intended as a peace treaty, this first Magna Carta never took full effect and failed to avert war between John and the nobles. By September of 1215 the barons had garrisoned Rochester Castle in opposition to the king, while John had successfully petitioned the Vatican to have Magna Carta annulled and all the rebels excommunicated. It was only in 1225 that a new king, 9-year-old Henry III, reissued an abridged version of Magna Carta as his own coronation charter.

4. Three of Magna Carta’s original clauses are still part of British law.

Magna Carta laid a foundation for lasting legal concepts like the ban on cruel and unusual punishments, trial by a jury of one’s peers and the idea that justice should not be sold or unnecessarily delayed. But the document also addressed very specific concerns that don’t quite echo through the ages, including a ban on fishing weirs and a mandate on the proper width for the bolts of cloth used to make monk’s robes.

When Henry III reissued Magna Carta its 69 clauses had been reduced to 27. It remained that way, with minor changes, until the 19th century, when British parliamentarians set about pruning obsolete laws from the many-layered British legal code. By the mid-20th century, only three clauses remained on the books. These remaining laws grant freedom to the Church of England, guarantee the customs and liberties of the city of London and—most importantly—forbid arbitrary arrest and the sale of justice.

5. There’s no single “original” copy.

Multiple copies of the first Magna Carta (a sheet of parchment with approximately 3,600 words written in vegetable-based ink) were distributed to individual English county courts during the summer of 1215. Today four of those copies survive; the British Library holds two, and the other two are in the collections of the cathedrals at Salisbury and Lincoln. At the beginning of World War II, Winston Churchill tried to force Lincoln Cathedral to donate its original Magna Carta to the United States, where it had been on display, in hopes that such a gift would create support for an alliance with Great Britain. Such a strong-armed donation would, of course, have run contrary to the property rights enshrined in the document itself. In the end, the cathedral’s Magna Carta spent the war under guard at Fort Knox, but was returned to England after the war.

A handful of other Magna Cartas are versions issued between 1225 and 1297, when the charter officially entered the English statute books. In 2007, a 1297 Magna Carta sold at auction for $21.3 million, the most ever paid for a single page of text.

6. If you call it “the Magna Carta,” you probably aren’t from England.

According to standard British usage, King John’s Great Charter has 63 clauses but no definite article—it’s simply referred to as Magna Carta, without the “the.” The charter was written in Latin (in which there are no exact equivalents for “an” or “the”), and signed by men who would have been fluent in Latin, French and Middle English. But for American newspapers, museum exhibitions and politicians, Magna Carta nearly always merits the article.