Cathay Williams was born in Independence Missouri to a free man and an enslaved woman. As such, she was legally a slave. Due to the prohibition against women serving in the military, Cathay WIlliams enlisted in the U.S. Army under the name William Cathay. She was the first African-American woman to enlist in the U.S. military, and she was able to hide behind her male facade for two years before her identity was discovered.
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