Ft. Monroe to Become National Monument, Salazar Says
President Obama on Tuesday is expected to designate much of the former Fort Monroe a national monument, fulfilling the goal of a grassroots effort initiated when the post was placed on the BRAC list six years ago.
The designation would make Fort Monroe the 396th national park in the United States, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told the Virginian-Pilot. Key factors prompting Obama’s action were the strong degree of public and political support, along with the potential for creating jobs, Salazar said.
The National Park Service likely would be responsible for a little over half of the site — including 90 acres surrounding its star-shaped, stone-and-water-moat fort — with the Fort Monroe Authority managing the remainder of the 570-acre property.
The history of the site, located on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Hampton, Va., dates to 1609 when fortifications first were established at Old Point Comfort. Ten years later, the first people from Africa to come to the New World arrived as slaves at the site. During the Civil War, the installation served as a sanctuary and symbolic site of early freedom for former slaves after the Union Army classified slaves that were able to reach Union lines as contraband of war.