Cynical Synapse

Mon, 19 Sep 2011

Fort Monroe Closes; Historical Significance at Risk

Filed under: Government, History, Indecision, Military, Politics, Racism — cynicalsynapse @ 5:46 am

Fort Monroe

All of our military forts have some historical significance. Fort Monroe was the longest serving Army installation, having been completed in 1834. The site on which Fort Monroe sits has had defense works since 1609. Last week, Fort Monroe was decomissioned and is no longer an active military installation. Its closure is a result of the Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) process.

The Army will turn Fort Monroe over to an authority of the State of Virginia by 2012, but there is considerable interest in making Fort Monroe a National Park or monument. Just as its location made it important from a strategic perspective in its day, what an amazing place for a national park.

Fort Monroe emancipates slaves as contraband of war

Without a doubt, portions of Fort Monroe will be sold to the private sector for development. Just as it’s an ideal location for a park, it’s also ideal for commercial exploitation. But the actual stone fortress itself must be preserved for its historical value for generations to come.

Fort Monroe was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. Even so, that’s not why we must preserve it. The simple fact is Fort Monroe provides the first tangible act of emancipation by sheltering escaping slaves when Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler classified them “contraband of war”. Next to the Emancipation Proclamation itself and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this has got to be the most significant official action to recognize racial equality in US history.
 

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