Charles Young Cabinet Card, ca 1889

Cabinet card vignette portrait of Charles Young. Pach Brothers: New York, n.d., ca 1889. Imprint on recto.

Charles Young was the third African American graduate from West Point and he sat for this photograph wearing his cadet’s uniform in 1889, the year of his graduation and it was included in a West Point yearbook of the same year. In addition to another stand-alone photographic portrait of Young in this collection, there are eight other known photographic portraits of him during his military career. This is the earliest known image, however, of the man who would go on to become the highest-ranking African American officer in the US military at the time of his death. An extremely excellent example.

In 1889, Charles Young graduated from the United States Military Academy, despite heavy racial abuse from his classmates and teachers. He was only the third African American to do so, after Henry Ossian Flipper and John Hanks Alexander. There would not be another black graduate until Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. in 1936. Young was commissioned as a second lieutenant and served for 28 years, primarily with the Buffalo Soldiers in both the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. He eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, the first African American to do so. Immediately prior to World War I, Young was removed from service reported due to health reasons, however, it was almost certainly to prevent Young from commanding white officers.


Very fine with beautiful tonality, minute tear to left edge.

Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
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