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Green, eco-friendly living and thoughtful consideration for Beaufort's abundant natural resources are crucial to the preservation of this great community for future generations. Beaufort, South Carolina is uniquely positioned on a bay along the Intracoastal Waterway and the coastal environment of this beautiful town plays a large role in attracting visitors from all over the country year after year.


Chartered in 1711, Beaufort ("Byoo-fort") is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, but it is not the area's oldest European settlement. The southeast coastal region of the state had been discovered in 1520 by Spanish explorers and was claimed in turns by the French and the British before the Lords Proprietors established a seaport named for Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort. Beaufort's longtime loyalty to the Crown was shaken by King George's imposition of high taxes, and many of the citizens joined a band of Lowcountry Federalists who would eventually adopt the U.S. Constitution.

After the Revolutionary War, the lands surrounding Beaufort were developed into large plantations that grew huge and lucrative crops of rice, indigo and cotton. Wealthy American planters built splendid summer homes for themselves in town where the summers' heat and the threat of mosquito-borne disease were relieved by cool coastal breezes, while slave labor worked the fields around them. Frustrated by U.S. trade restrictions and by the nation's growing opposition to slavery, two of Beaufort's prominent citizens joined the committee that drafted the Ordinance of Secession in 1860, instigating hostilities that led to the Civil War.

Federal response to this bellicose action was unexpectedly swift and effective. Attacked by forces that captured Port Royal Sound, Beaufort was overrun in November 1861, and it quickly became the staging post for the naval blockade of Confederate ports along the southern Atlantic coastline. Slaves were summarily emancipated, and Penn Center, a freedmen's school the first in the South - was started by northern missionaries in 1862.

Local citizenry had hastily abandoned their plantations and their town homes, which were promptly commandeered for offices, residences and hospitals by Union officers. This Yankee occupation saved Beaufort's magnificent homes from the destructive retribution that befell other Confederate communities, and many of them survive today.

The post-war Reconstruction era reintroduced farming to Beaufort, and phosphate mining joined agriculture as a significant local industry. Mining came to an abrupt end following the devastating hurricane of August 1893, when storm waters carried on high tides inundated the Sea Islands. Thousands of lives were lost and survivors were left sick and destitute in the storm's aftermath, their homes, crops and livestock washed out to sea.

Nurse Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross, came to Beaufort to lead recovery efforts after the hurricane. In the absence of government aid, Red Cross volunteers helped the people of Beaufort to rebuild the community, firmly establishing the Red Cross as the foremost disaster relief agency in the world.

Beaufort holds a proud place in twentieth century American military preparedness. Shortly after the Civil War, Parris Island had become a naval installation. Part of the island was controlled by the Marines, who created a Marine Corps Recruit Depot before World War I that endures today. All female Marine recruits train here, as do male recruits from east of the Mississippi.

The Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort was originally designated as an Auxiliary Air Field by the U.S. Navy during World War II. It became a Marine Corps Air Station in 1960, and has trained fighter pilots and aviation support personnel for nearly fifty years.

The Naval Hospital at Beaufort is a complete military facility. Within its compound on the banks of the Beaufort River are a hospital which serves active duty personnel from all branches of the service as well as military retirees and their dependents who reside in the area. Branch clinics are located on the Parris Island and MCAS Beaufort bases. Also on the grounds are family and bachelor housing units, a Navy Exchange with retail store, its own fire station, and recreational facilities. The base incorporates the site of Fort Frederick, a British fortification erected in 1735 to protect Beaufort from the Indians and the Spanish to the south. Its remains are designated as a National Historic Landmark.

More recent history includes Beaufort's contributions to the entertainment industry. Author Pat Conroy is a graduate of the local high school. Several major movies have been filmed in the area, notably The Great Santini, The Big Chill, G.I. Jane, The Jungle Book, The Prince of Tides and Forrest Gump.

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