Continuing his executive actions campaign, President Obama will sign a proclamation this afternoon to designate Fort Monroe a national monument.
“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 will help create nearly 3,000 jobs in Virginia.
“National parks are responsible for $13.3 billion of local, private-sector economic activity nationwide, supporting 267,000 private-sector jobs. There are currently 21 national park units located in Virginia; Fort Monroe would be the 22nd and the 396th nationwide,” the White House notes.
The announcement marks yet another unilateral action by the president that he says are intended to grow the economy and circumvent Republicans in Congress, who are blocking his $447 billion jobs bill.
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.