Against the Profit MotiveThe Salary Revolution in American Government, 1780-1940

Against the Profit MotiveThe Salary Revolution in American Government, 1780-1940

Nicholas R. Parrillo

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780300176582

Publisher: Yale University Press

Abstract

In America today, a public official's lawful income consists of a salary. But until a century ago, the law frequently authorized officials to make money on a profit-seeking basis. Prosecutors won a fee for each defendant convicted. Tax collectors received a cut of each evasion uncovered. Naval officers took a reward for each ship sunk. The list goes on. This book is the first to document American government's “for-profit” past, to discover how profit-seeking defined officials' relationship to the citizenry, and to explain how lawmakers—by banishing the profit motive in favor of the salary—transformed that relationship forever.