The Future of ‘Freedom’s Fortress’


There are few places in America where the full sweep of our nation’s past — from tragedy to triumph — are more palpable and immediate than on this small, fishhook-shaped spit of land near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Fort Monroe, Va., stands where African-American slavery began — and also, in a sense, where it ended. It marks the birthplace of black America, and the place of its rebirth into freedom...

It remains to be seen whether President Obama — despite the current budget woes — will use his authority to make the Fort Monroe national monument a reality, a power that he holds under the Antiquities Act of 1906. (President Bill Clinton used the act to designate no fewer than 19 national monuments; President George W. Bush created six.) Many supporters have suggested that this would be a fitting way to honor the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, which has received relatively little federal recognition.