Fort Monroe National Monument has a diverse history spanning the American story from American Indian presence, Captain John Smith's journeys, first arrival of enslaved Africans in English North America, a safe haven for freedom seekers during the American Civil War, and a bastion of defense for the Chesapeake Bay through the 21st Century.
Visit and witness the on-going preservation work in action. In late August 1619, now believed to be on August 25th, the first ship carrying “20 and odd” enslaved Africans arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, where Fort Monroe is today.
They landed being treated as human cargo captured by the White Lion and English privateer ship from the Spanish slave ship São João Bautista or San Juan Bautista during a fierce battle in the Bay of Campeche.
During the Civil War, Fort Monroe remained in Union hands (1861–1865). It became notable as a historic and symbolic site of early freedom for former slaves under the provisions of contraband policies.
On November 1, 2011, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation to designate portions of Fort Monroe as a National Monument.