|Focus||Saving American battlefields of the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812|
|Jim Lighthizer, President|
|$23,526,638 (FYE 03/2016)|
The American Battlefield Trust is a charitable organization (501(c)(3)) whose primary focus is in the preservation of battlefields of the American Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 through acquisition of battlefield land. The American Battlefield Trust was formerly known as the Civil War Trust. On May 8, 2018, the organization announced the creation of the American Battlefield Trust as the umbrella organization for two divisions, the Civil War Trust and the Revolutionary War Trust, which was formerly known as "Campaign 1776." The name American Battlefield Trust reflects the organization's expanded mission, announced in 2014, of saving land at battlefields of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 as well as the American Civil War The American Battlefield Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public about these three conflicts and their significance in American history. On May 31, 2018, the Trust announced that with the acquisition of 13 acres at the Cedar Creek battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, it had reached the milestone of 50,000 acres of battlefield land acquired and preserved. Since 1988, the Trust and its federal, state and local partners have preserved land in 24 states at more than 130 battlefields of the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. More than 10,000 of the acres have been acquired and preserved since 2014.
The modern battlefield preservation movement was first undertaken by the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS), which was founded in 1987 to save Civil War battlefield land. APCWS acquired thousands of acres of battlefield land as well as offering educational tours and seminars with prominent historians.
The original Civil War Trust, a second non-profit focused on preserving Civil War battlefields, was formed in 1991. The Civil War Trust helped acquire and preserve 6,700 acres (27 km2) of land in the eight years of its existence and conducted education and heritage tourism programs to educate the public about the significance of the war and of battlefield preservation.
The Civil War Preservation Trust was created on November 19, 1999, through the merger of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS) with the Civil War Trust. The merger, which was propelled by a unanimous vote of both boards, was effected to streamline efforts to protect America's most endangered parcels of Civil War history by acquisition of battlefield lands. On January 11, 2011, the Civil War Preservation Trust shortened its name to the Civil War Trust, and added a new logo.
On November 11, 2014 (Veterans Day), the Trust partnered with the Society of the Cincinnati to launch "Campaign 1776", a subsidiary project designed to protect endangered battlefields from the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 by acquiring battlefield lands. Federal matching grants for this program were enacted by Congress in December 2014.
The president of the American Battlefield Trust is O. James Lighthizer, a former Maryland county executive and Secretary of Transportation who pioneered the concept of using Transportation Enhancement highway funds to protect thousands of acres of Civil War battlefield land in Maryland through acquisitions or easements.
Since its formation, the Trust has grown to nearly 200,000 members and supporters and has permanently preserved more than 50,000 acres (200 km2)of American battlefield land from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
The American Battlefield Trust is a membership-driven organization that uses donated funds to protect battlefield land from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Land is acquired by the American Battlefield Trust from private sector parties at fair market value or by donation. Once land is acquired, the Trust is responsible for land stewardship and interpretation, often with assistance from local governments and other preservation groups.
In cases where a landowner wants to retain ownership the Trust can arrange a conservation easement to protect their property. Conservation easements prohibit development of property, conserving it in its present state.
In its effort to American battlefields, the American Battlefield Trust attempts to leverage federal and state programs designed to foster preservation of historic and natural resources. The primary source of federal support for the preservation of Civil War battlefields is the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program (CWBPP), administered by the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), an office of the National Park Service. CWBPP is designed to promote the preservation of significant Civil War battlefields by offering competitive matching grants for qualifying preservation opportunities. Other federal sources include the Transportation Enhancement program and the Farm and Ranch Protection Program. The American Battlefield Trust has also leveraged funds made available by state and local governments.
The Civil War Trust has preserved more than 48,600 acres (197 km2) of battlefield land from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 at more than 130 battlefields in 24 states within the United States.
Key battlefield preservation initiatives and acquisitions include:
As of May 2018, the American Battlefield Trust has preserved over 50,000 acres (200 km2) at more than 130 battlefields in 24 states at the following sites:
To further its aim of preserving American Civil War battlefields, the Trust has engaged in grassroots and community outreach efforts and had conducted campaigns against development projects that have threatened battlefields.
The Gettysburg Battlefield has faced two separate threats from proposed casinos.
In 2005 a proposal was put forward to build a casino with 3,000 slot machines less than a mile from the Gettysburg Battlefield. Soon after the proposal was announced, the Civil War Trust joined forces with a local concerned citizens group called No Casino Gettysburg to advocate against the proposal. Later, the Trust formed the Stop the Slots Coalition, a collection of national and local groups opposed to the casino.
On December 20, 2006, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted to reject the Gettysburg casino proposal.
In 2010, a new Gettysburg Casino application was filed and the Trust, with a broad coalition of partners, undertook a successful campaign to prevent approval of this new application. Nearly 300 prominent historians wrote to the Pennsylvania Gaming Board, urging the rejection of the application. Susan Eisenhower, Emmy award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha, composer John Williams, and actors Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang (actor), and Sam Waterston were all featured in a Jeff Griffiths produced video declaring their opposition to the proposed Gettysburg casino.
On April 14, 2011, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted to reject this second proposal to bring casino gambling to the doorstep of Gettysburg National Military Park.
In May 2002, a regional developer announced a plan to build 2,300 houses and 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of commercial space on the 790-acre (3.2 km2) Mullins Farm, site of the first day of fighting at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Soon thereafter, the Civil War Trust formed the Coalition to Save Chancellorsville, a network of national and local preservation groups, that waged a vocal campaign against the development.
For nearly a year, the Coalition mobilized local citizens, held candlelight vigils and hearings, and encouraged residents to become more involved in preservation. Public opinion polling conducted by the Coalition found that more than two-thirds of local residents opposed the development. The survey also found that 90 percent of local residents believed their county has a responsibility to protect Chancellorsville and other historic resources.
As a result of these efforts, in March 2003 the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors denied the rezoning application that would have allowed for the development of the site. Immediately following the vote, the Civil War Trust and other Coalition members began working to acquire the battlefield. By working with county officials and developers, the Civil War Trust acquired 140 acres (0.57 km2) in 2004 and another 74 acres (0.30 km2) in 2006.
With the help of the Civil War Trust, the Morris Island Coalition was formed in early 2004 to oppose development on historic Morris Island outside Charleston, South Carolina. Morris Island was the scene of the charge of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry on Fort Wagner, famously depicted in the film Glory.
The Coalition, led by local resident Blake Hallman, generated local government support for preservation of Morris Island. Press reaction was favorable as well, and public opinion polls found that an overwhelming number of Charleston residents wanted to see the barrier island remain undeveloped. Hallman earned the Civil War Trust's "Preservationist of the Year" award for his efforts to save Morris Island.
At one time, development plans called for a 20-unit luxury house development on Cummings Point (the site of Fort Wagner). In early 2005, the landowner tried unsuccessfully to sell the property on eBay. At the end of 2005, a preservation-friendly developer acquired the property. He later agreed to sell it to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) for preservation purposes a few months later.
In 2008, the Trust engaged in fundraising efforts in support of the State of South Carolina, City of Charleston, and the Trust for Public Land's $3m effort that would preserve an additional 117 acres (0.47 km2) of Morris Island.
Together with the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Piedmont Environmental Council, the National Parks Conservation Association, Preservation Virginia and a group of concerned local residents, the Civil War Trust opposed the construction of a Walmart Supercenter on the Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County, Virginia. Following a nationwide outcry from preservationists and historians alike, Walmart Stores, Inc. announced in January 2011 that it had "decided to preserve" rather than develop the historic site where local officials had given the company permission to construct its newest superstore in 2009. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian James McPherson had identified the site as part of "the nerve center of the Union Army during the Battle of the Wilderness."
Trust President Jim Lighthizer praised Walmart's decision, stating that founder Sam Walton, a veteran of the Second World War, would have been "proud" of his company's move to preserve the hallowed ground. "We stand ready to work with Walmart to put this controversy behind us and protect the battlefield from further encroachment," Lighthizer stated. "We firmly believe that preservation and progress need not be mutually exclusive, and welcome Walmart as a thoughtful partner in efforts to protect the Wilderness Battlefield." In November 2013, Walmart donated the historic site comprising more than 50 acres (0.20 km2) to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In addition to preserving Civil War battlefield land, the American Battlefield Trust conducts programs designed to inform the public about the events and consequences of the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, create a personal connection to the past and foster an understanding of the need for preservation and how it benefits society.
The American Battlefield Trust is located in Washington, D.C., with a field office in Hagerstown, Maryland.
The president of the American Battlefield Trust is O. James Lighthizer. Lighthizer was a former partner, Miles and Stockbridge; former Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, Anne Arundel County Executive, and member of the Maryland General Assembly.
In December 1999, Lighthizer accepted the presidency of Civil War Preservation Trust, a new organization created by the merger of two other national battlefield preservation groups, the Civil War Trust and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites. Lighthizer had previously served as a member of the Civil War Trust's Board of Trustees.
When Lighthizer became president at CWPT in 1999, the fledgling organization had 22,000 members and its predecessor organizations had protected 7,500 acres (30 km2) in the previous 13 years. During Lighthizer's tenure as president of the CWPT and the Civil War Trust, the group has added more than 32,500 acres (132 km2) of protected land, and has 200,000 members and supporters nationwide. Lighthizer was also the architect of the 2006 purchase of the 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm on the Fredericksburg Battlefield. The $12 million acquisition was the most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history.
Jeffrey R. Rodek is the chairman of the board of trustees of the American Battlefield Trust, appointed in June 2017. Rodek is Senior Lecturer at the Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University. He is the former chairman and CEO of Hyperion Solutions Corp.
To commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, in 2011 the Trust began a significant fundraising initiative. By April 2014, the organization had met the initial $40 million fundraising goal of Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy more than a year early, and chose to raise its goal to an unprecedented $50 million. In June 2015, as the Civil War sesquicentennial concluded, the Trust announced that it had met its revised goal and raised a total of $52.5 million during the four-year effort.
The Civil War Trust, now American Battlefield Trust, was a recipient of a 4-Star award from Charity Navigator in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. This award is presented to those charitable organizations that exhibit strong results and financial discipline.
The Trust's membership magazine, Hallowed Ground, has received the APEX Grand Award for Publication Excellence every year since 2009.
The Trust's Gettysburg Animated Map, produced by Wide Awake Films, received a 2014 Silver Telly Award in the Online/Historical Programs category.
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