The Superintendent's Letter
By Cynthia MacLeod
On November 13, 2000, President Clinton signed landmark new legislation for Richmond National Battlefield Park. After years of being able to acquire land only through donation, the park is finally authorized to use federal funds to buy battlefield land. This authority is one that most other battlefield parks have had for years and is one large reason for the relatively few acres owned by Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Key to the passage of the bill was Congressman Thomas J. Bliley, Jr., who introduced and shepherded the legislation in the last months in office prior to his retirement. Congressman Bobby Scott was also a champion of the legislation, which, in addition, provides for a tribute to the 14 black soldiers who won the Medal of Honor for action at the battle of New Market Heights. Senators Robb and Warner ensured the success of the bill in the Senate.
The bill also requires that any land purchased by the park be from a willing seller, effectively eliminating the hostile provisions of eminent domain, commonly known as condemnation. The park has not in its history used its powers of eminent domain and so is not antithetical to this restriction. The bill specifies boundaries around 7,307 acres in several tracts that are eligible to become part of the park, The earlier authorizing legislation from 1936 contained language that was not specific about boundaries of acreage, referencing broadly land that was militarily significant in the Richmond area.
The legislation is an achievement envisioned in the General Management Plan, which was completed in 1996, and should ease the ability of property owners, other interested parties, and the National Park Service to protect Richmond's Civil War battlefield lands.
My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all who see the legislation as the "win-win" achievement that it will be for generations to come.