Loudoun Supervisors Clash Over Oak Hill Historic Designation

County supervisors’ vote to support a letter asking Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to designate the former home of President James Monroe, Oak Hill  just south of Leesburg, as a National Historic Site led to strong words at their meeting June 21.

Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) was the lone dissenting vote.

“I appreciate the important role James Monroe played in our state, in the liberation and formation of our nation, but we should not gloss over the fact that he was one of the most prolific slaveholders in our nation,” she said. “It was through owning slaves, and likely mortgaging the value and capacity of their labor and their bodies that Monroe and his family generated extraordinary, wealth, and that was passed down from generation to generation.”

She expressed concern the letter doesn’t do enough about including the Monroe family’s history of slavery.

“I know this is just a letter, but it may just be the last time that we have an influence over what might be a national park, and it needs to interpret the inconvenient history of James Monroe,” she said. “I can’t support even starting this initiative without a sentence or a few words about the slaves that were working on this plantation.”

Most supervisors expressed their support for the letter, but Briskman’s comments were also met with heated words from County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), who said, “if you think you care more about this than Supervisor [Sylvia R.] Glass (D-Broad Run), than Supervisor [Koran T.] Saines (D-Sterling), or I do, you’re wrong,” referring to the three Black supervisors on the board. She said Briskman’s suggestions would discourage the park service from taking the property.

“I don’t need anybody, and I mean I don’t need anybody, telling me what it was to be an enslaved human being. Don’t need that for a hot damn second. Wow is right—Wow is right,” she said, over Briskman’s startled objections. “There are times you have to let us lead. There are times there are ways to be an ally and there are ways to be so far out in front of us, you’re doing us damage. This is a doing us damage moment. We want the property so the story can be told. The most important thing is the history get told.”

Supervisors voted 8-1, Briskman opposed, to endorse the letter. Following the vote, Randall declared “I need a five-minute break” and gaveled the meeting into recess, striding out of the boardroom.

With the vote, supervisors support a letter from the current owners of the 1,200-acre Oak Hill Farm near Aldie, the DeLashmutt family who have owned it for four generations. If Haaland designates it a National Historic Site, that will enable the National Park Service to acquire and preserve the property as a national park open to the public. The land is already a National Historic Landmark.

9 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Clash Over Oak Hill Historic Designation

  • 2022-06-28 at 5:17 pm
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    I sympathize with Juli Briskman. President Monroe enslaved many individuals. That part of the story must be told if/when Oak Hill is designated a National Historic Site. But I also see Chair Randall’s point about Blacks leading the way. We must trust in her good judgment at this juncture. When everything settles, there will be ample time to spotlight the horrendous role that enslavement plays in our national life. On a brighter note, Happy Pride Month Loudoun!

    • 2022-06-29 at 12:26 pm
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      The institution of slavery ended one hundred fifty some odd years ago.
      It doesn’t play a “horrendous role” in anyone’s life.

      Happy stuck in past month, Loudoun!

  • 2022-06-28 at 7:40 pm
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    Nothing like a perpetually bitter white leftist whitesplaining.

    When Phyllis is right, she’s right. Good Job Chair.

  • 2022-06-28 at 9:06 pm
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    And here we have a microcosm of the Democrat Party. Too woke for their own good college-educated Whites trying to out-Black Blacks. There is a reason Browns and Blacks are stampeding out of the Democrat Party and to the Republican Party. November can’t come soon enough, and hopefully November 2023 comes even sooner.

  • 2022-06-28 at 9:18 pm
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    On another note, this designation is really good for Loudoun. President James Monroe’s home is little known even to the people of Loudoun. Once a year, the privately owned house is opened to the public. I’m sure it has been halted the past couple of years. I’d really like to see Oak Hill as a national historic site. Despite the crowing of Supervisor Juli “middle finger” Briskman, James Monroe was very talented and is a very underrated president. His long list of pubic service accomplishments is vast. One point of his life that is little known is that he is really responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. Yes, Jefferson was president. But Monroe went to France to negotiate for something much smaller and Napoleon offered him the whole darn thing. Despite not having the authority, Monroe saw the tremendous bargain and agreed on behalf of the United States before Napoleon changed his mind (getting approval from the U.S. would have taken months). Monroe figured he could convince Jefferson and Congress to go along, and he did indeed. American history would have been completely different if Monroe didn’t boldly seize the opportunity. The Board of Supervisors needs to boldly seize this opportunity.

    I’m a big fan of this big president.

  • 2022-06-29 at 12:31 am
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    It figures Supervisor Juli Briskman tried to make preserving history a political issue about slavery. Maybe she should look into her own allegiance. She is a dues paying member of the most racist pro slavery, minority killing organization in America. A group who lead the south in the civil war, founders of the KKK, supporters of a group founded on killing black children to “rid America of inferior stock”. The same group who opposed the civil rights acts of 1964 and 1965.

    Yes I am talking about the democrat party – the same party who Supervisor Briskman is a proud member of.

    Maybe she should stop criticizing people from 200 years ago and start looking at her own house.

    • 2022-06-29 at 1:50 pm
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      Brisky is a well-trained lapdog of the leftists. She couldn’t rub two active brain cells together and come up with a coherent thought.

  • 2022-06-29 at 1:28 pm
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    The current BoS in their remaining time, really need to focus on the here and now, and the future of Loudoun, not the past. The future needs to be more that renaming roads, facilities, removing statues and plaques.

    • 2022-06-30 at 10:58 am
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      Feel good. Accomplish nothing. That’s the Democrat Way.

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