During the Union occupation of the South during the Civil War, the Beaufort collection was confiscated and sent to New York City for auction. Public opposition was so strong in the North that it was decided that the collection would be returned to Beaufort. The collection was stored in the Smithsonian until the end of the war. Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase was quoted as saying: "The Union does not make war on libraries." More information about the Beaufort Library Society.
"Monday evening, Nov. 17, at 6 1/2 o'clock, and the succeeding evenings of the week, Government Sale. Catalogue of an immense collection of library books in all departments of literature, arts and sciences, including very many important and scarce works, &c. to be sold at auction, by order and under the direction of Hiram Barney, Esq., Collector of the Port of N. Y. on Monday evening, Nov. 17, 1862, and the succeeding evenings of the week, by Bangs, Merwin & Co. at the Irving Building, 594 and 596 Broadway, sale to commence each evening at 6 1/2 o'clock precisely. Terms — cash, in bankable funds. Gentlemen who cannot attend the sale may have their orders to purchase executed by the auctioneer."
Sample page from Beaufort Library Society catalogue, 1802-1862.
"To the Honorable The President & Members of the Senate of the state of South Carolina The Petition of Sundry inhabitants of the town of Beaufort & its vicinity humbly sheweth That your Petitioners have sometime since associated themselves together for the purpose of forming a Library Society in the said town, which, they conceive, will be of public utility. They therefore pray your honorable body, to grant a charter of incorporation to them, under the name & title of the Beaufort Library Society in the usual manner & forms, & your Petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray —"