Front Page Titles (by Subject) draft of bill to abolish entails. 1 - The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779)
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draft of bill to abolish entails. 1 - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 2.
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draft of bill to abolish entails.1
v. s. a.
[Oct. 14, 1776.]
A Bill to enable tenants in tail to convey their lands in fee-simple. Whereas the perpetuation of property in certain families by means of gifts made to them in fee-simple is contrary to good policy, tends to deceive fair traders who give credit on the visible possession of such estates, discourages the holder thereof from taking care & improving the same, and sometime does injury to the morals of youth by rendering them independent of, and disobedient to, their parents; and whereas the former method of docking such estates tail by special act of assembly formed for every particular case employed very much time of the legislature, was burthensome to the public, and also to the individual who made application for such acts:
Be it therefore enacted by1 and it is hereby enacted by authority of the same that any person who now hath, or hereafter may have any estate in fee tail general or special in any lands or slaves in possession, or in the use or trust of any lands or slaves in possession, or who now is or hereafter may be entitled to any such estate tail in reversion or remainder after the determination of any estate for life or lives or of any lesser estate, whether such estate hath been or shall be created by deed, will, act of assembly, or any other ways or means shall have full power to pass, convey, or assure in fee-simple or for any lesser estate the said lands or slaves, or use in lands or slaves or such reversion or remainder therein, or any part or parcel thereof, to any person or persons whatsoever by deed or deeds of feoffment, gift, grant, exchange, partition, lease, release, bargain, and sale, convenant to stand seized to uses, deed to lead uses, or by his last will and testament, or by any other mode or form of conveiance or assurance by which such lands or slaves, or use in lands or slaves, or such reversion or remainder therein might have been passed, conveied or assured had the same been held in feesimple by the person so passing, conveying or assuring the same: and such deed, will or other conveiance shall be good and effectual to bar the issue in tail & those in remainder and revertor as to such estate or estates so passed, conveied, or assured by such deed will or other conveiance.
Provided nevertheless that such deed, will, or other conveiance shall be executed, acknowledged, or proved, and recorded in like manner as, and in all cases where, the same should have been done, had the person or persons so conveying or assuring held the said lands or slaves, or use of lands and slaves or such reversion or remainder in fee-simple.
[1 ]On Oct. 12, 1776, leave was granted to introduce this bill, and Jefferson, Starke, and Bullitt were named a committee to draft it. Jefferson reported this draft Oct. 14th. It was considered and amended in the Committee of the Whole on Oct. 17th and 18th, was passed by the lower house on Oct. 23d, and concurred in by the Senate, Nov. 1st. It was the first great blow at the aristocratic or landed class of Virginia, and is noticed by Jefferson in his Autobiography; ante, i, 58. This is the draft of the bill, in Jefferson’s handwriting, the bill as finally adopted being in the Session Acts for 1776, p. 37; A Collection of the Public Acts of Va., 1785, p. 45; and in Hening, ix., 226.
[1 ]As this was one of the first bills passed by the Assembly as formed under the Constitution adopted in this year, the enacting clause was not yet definitely settled, and is left blank in the draft.