When you are in the Tidewater area a trip to this important icon of freedom is recommended. This is one of the oldest military fortified points in the United states. It dates from early colonial period through the 21st century. Fort Monroe and General Benjamin Butler made one of the most important moves for freedom during the war between the states. Virginia was enemy territory for the US government in 1861 and Fort Monroe's location at Old Point Comfort placed it well within the Confederate State. During Butler's command three runaway slaves from the region sought sanctuary in side the walls. Since the US law at the time required all runaway slaves to be returned if found Butler was quick on his legal feet and declared them "Contraband" of war since they were "property" of a Virginian. This was the first act of emancipation by the U.S. Government prior to the Emancipation Proclamation and led to many more freed slaves if they could make their way to the fort.
Other features like the irony of Robert E. Lee being an engineer / designer of the fort and the place of Jefferson Davis' incarceration add to this important place. The US Army has left the fort and with that a great museum of fortified artillery defense, The Casemate Museum. It is currently managed by the US Park Service.
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