Thomas Jefferson Papers

99. A Bill to Prevent the Sale of Public Offices, 18 June 1779

99. A Bill to Prevent the Sale of Public Offices

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that if any person shall, for valuable consideration, dispose of any office which concerns the receipt, or the controlment or auditing accounts, of the public revenue, taxes, or duties; the office of Attorney for the commonwealth, clerk of the Council, or of any other public board, clerk of a Court of Record, sheriff, Naval-Officer, Advocate, Register, or Marshal of the Court of Admiralty, or any other public office, which concerns the administration of justice, and for the execution whereof he is intitled to fees or salary; or the deputation of any such office; or any military office; or shall make any bargain for that purpose, the seller, if he be the officer, shall forfeit the office, or, if he have the power of nomination to it, shall be deprived of the office in virtue of which he exerciseth that power; and in either case he in whose behalf the bargain was made shall be forever disabled to hold the office so bargained for; and every bond or contract made upon, or in consequence of, such bargain shall be void; and, moreover, the parties to the bargain shall be punished, by imprisonment and amercement at the discretion of a jury.

Report description begins Report of the Committee of Revisors Appointed by the General Assembly of Virginia in MDCCLXXVI, Richmond, 1784 description ends , p. 69. MS (ViU); clerk’s copy.

Bill was presented 31 Oct. 1785 by Madison, postponed 14 Dec. to next session, brought up again on 1 Nov. 1786, considered and amended by committee of the whole 21 Nov., read the third time and rejected on 22 Nov. 1786. Apparently no further action was taken on this Bill (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1785, 1828 edn., p. 12–15, 92; same, Oct. 1786, p. 16–17, 53, 54). But see the “Act against buying and selling of offices” passed at the Oct. 1792 session (Shepherd, description begins Samuel Shepherd, The Statutes at Large of Virginia, from October Session 1792, to December Session 1806, Inclusive … (New Series,) Being a Continuation of Hening description ends i, 6–7).

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