Thomas Jefferson Papers

4. Outline of Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments, &c., 1779

4. Outline of Bill for Proportioning Crimes and Punishments, &c.

I. Crimes whose punishmt. extends to Life.

1. High-treason. Death <by burying alive. qu.> by hanging
Forfeiture of lands & goods to Commwth.
2. Petty Treason. Death by hanging.
Forfeitr of half lands & goods to representatives of person killed.
3. Murder. 1. by poyson. Death by poyson.
Forfeitre. of one half as before.
2. in Duel. Death by hanging.
gibbeting, if the challenger.
Forfeitre. of one half as before unless the Challengr fell, then to Commw.
3. any other way. Death by hanging.
Forfeitre of half as before.
4. Manslaur. 2d offence is murder.
<1st. Labor 7 years.>
<Forfeitre one half as before.>

II. Crimes whose punishment goes to Limb.

1. Rape. } Castration.
<2. Polygamy>
2. Sodomy.
3. Maiming } Retaliation.
4. Disfiguring Forfeiture of half to sufferer.

III. Crimes punisheable by Labor &c.

1. Manslaur. 1st. offence. Labor VII. years.
Forfeitre. of half as before.
2. Counterfeiting. Labor VI. years.
Forfeit whole to Commw.
3. Arson. } { Labor V. years.
4. Asportn. of vessels Reparation threefold
5. Robbery } Labor IV. years
6. Burglary Reparation. double.
7. Housebreaking. } Labor III. years
8. Horse-stealing Reparation.
9. Grand Larceny. Labor II. years
<30. stripes.> pillory ½ an hour.
10. Petty Larceny. Labor I. year.
<15. stripes.> pillory ¼ of an hour
11. Witchcraft &c. Ducking
15. stripes.
12. Excusable homicide. <head & half the beard shaved a year.>
13. Suicide. nothing.
14. Apostacy. Heresy. nothing.

N (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand, written in a long, narrow column. This document is presented as literally as possible. The italicized words (except those in angle brackets) represent words written by TJ in a hand resembling print, a device he frequently used for emphasis.

TJ later employed this list in preparing Query xiv of the Notes on Virginia, copying it almost verbatim in his discussion of the revised code (Ford, description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, “Letterpress Edition,” N.Y., 1892–1899 description ends iii, 250–1). Compare this outline also with the section on crimes and punishments in the Plan Agreed upon by the Revisors at Fredericksburg (Document i in this series) and Bill No. 64. It is important to note that polygamy, though it fell under the drastic penalty set forth in Bill No. 64, was struck from the above list of crimes before that list was revised and employed in Notes on Virginia.

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