In yet another executive action, President Obama today signed a proclamation to designate Fort Monroe a national monument, billing it as “an incredibly important economic boost to the region.”
“Fort Monroe has played a part in some of the darkest and some of the most heroic moments in American history. But today isn’t just about preserving a national landmark — it’s about helping to create jobs and grow the local economy. Steps like these won’t replace the bold action we need from Congress to get our economy moving and strengthen middle-class families, but they will make a difference,” Obama said in a written statement.
According to the White House, the preservation of Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., will help create nearly 3,000 jobs in the state.
“It will add millions of dollars to the local economy in and around Hampton. And so this is a win-win. Not only is it good for the people of that region now, but it also allows us to set aside this incredibly important site for the enjoyment and appreciation of generations to come,” Obama told reporters today.
The announcement marks yet another unilateral action by the president the White House says is intended to grow the economy and circumvent Republicans in Congress, who are blocking his $447 billion jobs bill.
“There’s a strong economic component to this. We think we’re going to see additional jobs in Virginia as a consequence of this. But for those members of Congress who are here, I still need some action from Congress on the American Jobs Act and other steps. But in the meantime, this is going to make a big difference,” Obama said.
Fort Monroe is integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military. It was the place where Dutch traders first brought enslaved Africans in 1619 and during the Civil War the Fort became a place for escaped slaves to find refuge.
In 1861, the Fort was the site of Gen. Benjamin Butler’s “Contraband Decision,” which provided a pathway to freedom for thousands of slaves.
“I am looking forward to not only visiting myself but also taking Malia and Sasha down there so they can get a little bit of sense of their history,” the president said.