U.S. Army general and soldier Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. was born on July 1, 1877, in Washington, D.C. Breaking new ground, Davis became the first African-American general in the United States Army. He began his military career as a volunteer during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Receiving his commission in 1901, Davis was made a second lieutenant in the regular army. Despite the widespread prejudice against African-Americans, he rose up the ranks, becoming a brigadier general in 1940.