Fort Monroe (center right)

The list of national monuments will grow by one after President Obama signs the legislation designating Fortress Monroe as such later today.  Presidents are able to classify historic and culturally significant structures monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906.  Fort Monroe certainly qualifies.  It was through this waterway that slaves were first brought to the United States in 1619.  The area played a role in the American Revolution and War of 1812 as well.  The current Vauban-style fort was completed in the 1830s; contraband slaves found protection here during the Civil War, and it was of course where President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned after the war.  Like other forts rendered obsolete in recent years, such as New York’s Governors Island, Fort Monroe was deemed superfluous and closed.  After nearly two centuries it shut down as a military base last year.  Though Monroe had already been on the National Register of Historic Places and registered a historic landmark, the new classification will give the fortress even more protection and save it from development.

(U.S. Army photograph)