A fire in the Library of Congress on December 24, 1851 destroyed 35,000 books—about two-thirds of the Library's 55,000 book collection, including two-thirds of Thomas Jefferson's library. This was the largest fire in the history of the Library of Congress
"Congress responded quickly and generously: in 1852 a total of $168,700 was appropriated to restore the Library's rooms in the Capitol and to replace the lost books. But the books were to be replaced only, with no particular intention of supplementing or expanding the collection. This policy reflected the conservative philosophy of Librarian of Congress John Silva Meehan and Sen. James A. Pearce of Maryland, the chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, who favored keeping a strict limit on the Library's activities" (Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress, accessed 10-09-2009).