• C.F. Adams Offers Extensive Legal Opinion On Contract Law -- Court Cases Making Postal Service Significant

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    3 pp, 5 x 8, ALS, from C. F. Adams to Mr. Fessenden, Cambridge [MA], Jan. 8, 1871.  Unclear who this Adams is, but he is possibly writing to William Howard Fessenden, fourth son of the notable politician William Pitt Fessenden, appointed by Lincoln as Treasury Secretary.  William Howard Fessenden took over the law practice his father established.  Adams goes through great length to explain the establishment of contract law in various court cases.


    “I have been foolish enough, my dear Mr. Fessenden, to delay the letter I promised you concerning J. Langdelli’s opinion until in all probability you have either forgotten that you ever cared for his opinion on any point or at least lost all interest...However, as its communication, even at this late day, will somewhat retard my passing from your mind – a motion which I wish I could ‘lay upon the table;’ I proceed to report the decision of the court, which, at its decision seems to show  is ‘a law until itself’ and which, in consequence, can hardly be considered ‘a law unto’ any other.


    “Judge L. decides that notice to the offerer of the acceptance is required in order to complete the contract when the offerer and not the acceptor is bound to do the first acts looking to a performance. He is of opinion, moreover, that such notice of acceptance is required ‘not because (the offerer) has any special right to it in equity or justice;’ nor because ‘an acceptance must in its own nature be communicated to the offerer before it can become complete,’ since the judge does not think that this can be truly said; not because ‘notification of acceptance as a think separate and distinct from the acceptance itself is necessary to the completion of a contract;’ for J.L. thinks this ‘still less’ than he thinks the other. It is required, ‘because the acceptance cannot be completed without it.’


    “ ‘The strongest cases in the plaintiff’s favor undoubtedly  are the NY cases of Mactier v Frith and Vascar v Lamp and the U.S. Supreme Cr. Case of Taylor v Mer. Fire Ins. These are very strong & if I were sitting in a subordinate court in either of those jurisdictions, I should favorably feel bound to decide this case in the plaintiff’s favor...”


    Reporting on the opinion of an appeal, Adams writes, in very small part, “...A contract is complete when the accepting is mailed, is to be considered a part of the common law...”


    Letter is in excellent condition with folds, but very easy to read. Some stray pencil notes on the verso.


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