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US Military Academy at West Point Graduating Class of 1889 Featuring Charles Young, 1889

Oversize albumen photograph of approximately sixty graduates of United States Military Academy at West Point, Class of 1889, notably featuring Charles Young (1864-1922), 7 x 9 in. Uncredited. The students wear their cadet uniforms and caps, some wear their overcoats, including Young who is visible in the back row at center-right, the only non-white student. The cadets are posed in a manner that is consistent with the treatment Young received while at the Academy. Young appears isolated and ostracized. A cabinet card portrait of Young as a cadet was sold as Lot 41 in Part I of The Road West. 

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. During the Spanish-American War, he was promoted to the temporary rank of major on May 14, 1898, commanding the 9th Ohio Infantry Regiment, a segregated unit with four companies. Although the unit did not ship overseas before the end of the conflict, his command was very important as it was the first time that an African American commanded a sizable unit of the United States Army. The volunteers were mustered out on January 28, 1899, and he reverted to his regular army rank of first lieutenant. Young would eventually attain the rank of lieutenant colonel, the first African American to do so. Immediately prior to World War I, Young was removed from service reportedly due to health reasons, however, it was almost certainly to prevent Young from commanding white officers. He died while on military attaché to Nigeria where he was originally buried. After a campaign led by his wife, his body was returned to the United States and he was given a full military funeral and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. See Lot 37 for another image of Charles Young. 

 

Condition:

Very fine contrast and clarity. 

Estimate: $1,500 - $2,500
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$2,000
12/03/2020

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