Anyone's support can be bought if you throw enough money (or alternate bargaining item) at the problem
An early reference can be found in William Coxe's Memoirs of Walpole written in 1798, which records Walpole (English Prime Minister) saying in 1745: "All those men have their price".
Personally I doubt that this was the first use of the term, or at least the concept, which I suspect dates back many thousands of years into man's pre-history.
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