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Family Tree of the National Park System
Part III
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part III



The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorized the President to proclaim National Monuments not only on western public lands but on any lands owned or controlled by the United States. Between 1906 and 1933 successive Presidents proclaimed ten National Monuments on military reservations:

Big Hole Battlefield, Mont.
Cabrillo, Calif.
Mound City, Ohio
Fort Marion, Pa.
Fort Matanza, Fla.
Fort Pulaski, Ga.
Castle Pickney, S.C. (abolished 3/29/56)
Statue of Liberty, N.Y.
Meriwether Lewis, Tenn.
Father Millet Cross, N.Y. (abolished 3/29/56)

These ten National Monuments constituted a small and not very representative part of the rich historical resources situated within the historic military reservations of the United States. The first War Department National Monument, Big Hole Battlefield, Montana, was established in 1910 to preserve the site of a major battle fought in August 1877 between United States troops and Nez Perce Indians led by Chief Joseph. Cabrillo National Monument, on the great headland of Point Loma, California, provided the site for a memorial to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Portuguese navigator and explorer who passed this point during his discovery voyage for Spain in 1542 — the first explorer to visit the shores of present-day California and Oregon. Mound City, Ohio, was proclaimed in 1923 to preserve the site of 24 burial mounds of the prehistoric Hopewell Indians.

The next five National Monuments — an impressive group — were established by President Calvin Coolidge in a single proclamation signed October 15, 1924. Fort Marion National Monument, later given its old Spanish name of Castillo de San Marcos, preserved an ancient Spanish fort in St. Augustine, Florida, the first permanent settlement by Europeans in the continental United States. A second monument protected Fort Matanzas, constructed by the Spanish in 1742 to help defend the southern approaches to St. Augustine.

Fort Pulaski National Monument preserved a magnificent early 19th century brick fort, encircled by a moat, located at the mouth of the Savannah River in Georgia. Taken over by Confederate forces at the outbreak of the Civil War, it yielded under bombardment by Federal rifled cannon in 1862. Little Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, was also declared a National Monument but has since been abolished. Finally, the proclamation declared the Statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island in the harbor of New York to be a National Monument. The last two War Department National Monuments, Meriwether Lewis and Father Millet Cross, were proclaimed in 1925; but the first was subsequently added to the Natchez Trace Parkway and the second abolished.

Although the authority to proclaim National Monuments on military reservations is still valid in 1972, no others have been proclaimed for 47 years. Instead, after World War II, a number of historic but obsolete fortifications were declared surplus by the War Department and transferred to the National Park Service, the States, or other political subdivisions following Congressional authorization. Examples are Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina, now a unit of the National Park System, and Fort Wayne, Michigan, now the property of the city of Detroit. The National Monuments established on military reservations under the Antiquities Act were added to the National Park System in 1933.

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