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Trust makes plea to Obama over Fort Monroe
June 10, 2011 | By David Macaulay, firstname.lastname@example.org | 757-247-7838
HAMPTON – The National Trust for Historic Preservation has written to president Barack Obama, urging him to make Fort Monroe in Hampton a National Monument.
In a letter to President Obama, National Trust for Historic Preservation president Stephanie Meeks asked the president to exercise the powers granted to the chief executive under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate Fort Monroe a National Monument, which would make it an official part of the National Park Service.
"For more than 100 years, presidents have used the Antiquities Act to enshrine and protect some of America's most important and beloved historic places, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty to Chaco Canyon," said Meeks.
"On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the momentous events that took place at Fort Monroe, we feel that this is an especially appropriate time to recognize the critical role this place has played in our nation's history. Designating Fort Monroe as a National Monument will ensure that future generations of Americans can learn from, and be inspired by, this vital piece of American history."
The Fort Monroe Authority and the City of Hampton have been pushing the case for a National Monument as well as the creation of a National Park at Monroe, with support from local representatives and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
A letter was sent to Obama, signed by local U.S. Reps. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News; Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland; Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach; and Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake.
National monuments are similar to national parks but they can be created by a president without the approval of Congress and the process is considerably faster.
The 150th anniversary of the historic contraband decision was celebrated in May. When Monroe's commander, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler, refused to return three slaves who came to the fortress in May 1861, effectively classifying them as "contraband" of war, it changed the course of the Civil War and the nation's history.