66. In equity, inadequacy of consideration, if such as to be evidence of fraud, is ground for refusing specific performance; and inadequacy of consideration is regarded as corroborative evidence in suits for relief from contracts on the ground of fraud and undue influence.
At law the benefit conferred or detriment suffered by the promisee in exchange for the promise need not be equal to the responsibility assumed by the promisor; or, in other words, the consideration need not be adequate. Any real consideration, however small, will support a promise.34 So long as a man gets what he has bargained for, and it is of some value in the eye of the law, the courts will not ask what its value may be to him, or whether its value is in any way proportionate to his act or promise given in return, for this would be "the law making the bargain instead of leaving the parties to make it." 35 In a case in the supreme court of the United States, Mr. Justice Story said, in speaking of a guaranty of another's debt, made in consideration of one dollar: "A valuable consideration, however small or nominal, if given or stipulated for in good faith, is, in the absence of fraud, sufficient to support an action on any parol contract. * * * A stipulation in consideration of one dollar is just as effectual and valuable a consideration as a larger sum stipulated for or paid." 36
31 There are such statutes in California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and possibly in other states.
32 Ante, p. 73.
33 Anson, Cont (8th Ed.) 76.
34 Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions v. Smith, 209 Pa. 361, 58 Atl. 689; Wolford v. Powers, 83 Ind. 294, 44 Am. Rep. 16. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 5S; Cent. Dig. §§ 281, 282.
35pukington v. Scott, 15 Mees. & W. 660; Worth v. Case, 42 N. Y. 362; Hubbard v. Coolidge, 1 Mete. (Mass.) 84; Brooks v. Ball, 18 Johns. (N. Y.) 337; Nash v. Lull, 102 Mass. 60, 3 Am. Rep. 435; Earl v. Peck, 64 N. Y. 596; Dor-win v. Smith, 35 Vt. 69; Boggs v. Wann (C. C.) 58 Fed. 681; Eyre v. Potter, 15 How. 42, 14 L. Ed. 592; Grandin v. Grandin, 49 N. J. Law, 508, 9 Atl. 756, 60 Am. Rep. 642; Crum v. Sawyer, 132 111. 443, 24 N. E. 956; Minneapolis Land Co. v. McMillan, 79 Minn. 287, 82 N. W. 591; Bigelow v. Bigelow, 95 Me. 17, 49 Atl. 49; Casserleigh v. Wood, 119 Fed. 308, 56 C. C. A. 212. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 58; Cent. Dig. §§ 231, 232.
Forbearance by a creditor, for instance, to levy an execution on the debtor's property, will support a promise by the debtor or by a third person to pay a larger sum than could have been recovered under the execution. "If," said Lord Tenterden in such a case, "the inconvenience of an execution against these goods at the time in question was so great that the defendant thought proper to buy it off at such an expense, I do not see that the consideration is insufficient for the promise." 37
There may even be a consideration without the accrual of any benefit at all to the promisor. If the promisee has suffered any detriment, however slight, or, though he has suffered no real detriment, if he has done what he was not otherwise bound to do, in return for the promise, he has given a consideration; and the court will not ask whether the promisor was benefited.38 Where, for instance, the owner of boilers gave another permission to weigh them on the latter's promise to return them in good condition, the permission and advantage taken of it was held a sufficient consideration for the promise. "The defendant," said the court, "had some reason for wishing to weigh the boilers, and he could do so only by obtaining permission from the plaintiff, which he did obtain by promising to return them in good condition. We need not inquire what benefit he expected to derive. The plaintiff might have given or refused leave."39
So where the defendant had made the promise sued upon in consideration of the plaintiffs' surrender of a guaranty which had been given by the defendant, but which turned out to have been unenforceable because it was within the statute of frauds, the surrender was held a sufficient consideration for the promise. "Whether or no the guaranty could have been available," said the court, "the plaintiffs were induced by the defendant's promise to part with something- which they might have kept, and the defendant obtained what he desired by means of that promise."40
36 Lawrence v. McCalmont, 2 How. 426, 11 L. Ed 326. And see Appeal of Ferguson, 117 Pa. 426, 11 AtL 885. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 53; Cent. Dig. §§ 281, 282.
37 Smith v. Algar, 1 Barn. & Adol. 603. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 11; Cent. Dig. §§ 295-29S, 316-324.
38 Traver v.--------, 1 Sid. 57; Chick v. Trevett, 20 Me. 462, 37 Am. Dec. 68;
Fisher v. Bartlett, 8 Greenl. (Me.) 122, 22 Am. Dec. 225; Hind v. Holdship, 2 Watts (Pa.) 104, 26 Am. Dec. 107; Glasgow v. Hobbs, 32 Ind. 440; Cates v. Bales, 78 Ind. 2S5;' DOYLE v. DIXON, 97 Mass. 208, 93 Am. Dec. 80, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 72; Cobb v. Cowdery, 40 Vt 25, 94 Am. Dec. 370; Hall Mfg. Co. v. Supply Co., 48 Mich. 331, 12 N. W. 205. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 52; Cent. Dig. §§ 223, 224.
39 Bainbridge v. Firmstone, 8 Adol. & EL 743. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 54; Cent. Dig. §§ 233-255.
On this principle, the refraining by a person from the use of liquor and tobacco for a certain time at the request of another has been held a sufficient consideration for a promise by the latter to pay him a sum of money.41 So also, where a person traveled for his own pleasure and benefit at the request of another, this was held sufficient to support a promise by the latter to reimburse him for his expenses;42 and, where an executor forbore to act as such on his coexecutor's promise to divide commissions with him, the forbearance was held a consideration for the promise.43 It has even been held that the liability incurred in purchasing property upon the faith of a promise made by another to contribute a certain sum in part payment of the price is a sufficient consideration to make the promise binding;44 and where a person agreed to contribute a sum of money for the purpose of discharging a mortgage on church property, on condition that the church would raise the balance by voluntary subscription, and the church performed the condition, it was held that the promise became binding.45
40 Haigh v. -Brooks. 10 Adol. & El. 309. And see Judy v. Louderman, 48 Ohio St. 562, 29 N. E. 181; Churchill v. Bradley, 58 Vt. 403, 5 Atl. 189, 5G Am. Rep. 563; Sykes v. Chadwick, 18 Wall. 141, 21 L. Ed. 824; Merchant v. O'Rourke, 111 Iowa, 351, 82 N. W. 759. Contra: McCollum v. Edmonds, 109 Ala. 322, 19 South. 501, and Grimes v. Grimes, 89 S. W. 548, 28 Ky. Law Rep. 549; the former holding that the surrender of a worthless land certificate, and the latter that the destruction of a worthless note of a third party, does not constitute a valid consideration. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 54; Cent. Dig. §§ 291-315.
41 HAMER v. SIDWAY, 124 N. Y. 538, 27 N. E. 256, 12 L. R. A. 463, 21 Am. St. Rep. 693, Throckmorton Cas. Contracts, 100; Talbott v. Stemmons' Ex'r, 89 Ky. 222, 12 S. W. 297, 5 L. R. A. 856. 25 Am. St. Rep. 531; Lindell v. Rokes, 60 Mo. 249, 21 Am. Rep. 395. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 54; Cent. Dig. § 248.
42 Devecmon v. Shaw, 69 Md. 199, 14 Atl. 464, 9 Am. St. Rep. 422. See, also, Hoshor v. Kautz, 19 Wash. 258, 53 Pac. 51. See "Contracts;' Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 54; Cent. Dig. § 236.
43 Ohlendorff v. Kanne, 66 Md. 495, 8 Atl. 351. See, also, John v. John, 122 Pa. 107, 15 Atl. 675. -See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 54; Cent. Dig. §§ 233-255, 352; "Executors and Administrators," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 19; Cent. Dig. § 38.
44 Steele v. Steele, 75 Md. 477, 23 Atl. 959; Skidmore v. Bradford, L R. 8 Eq. 134. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 66; Cent. Dig. § 2>,l.
45Roberts v. Cobb, 103 N. Y. 600, 9 N. E. 500. See "Subscriptions," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 15; Cent. Dig. §§ 14-17.
We have seen, in discussing- contracts under seal, that want of consideration may be shown notwithstanding the seal, where the contract is in partial restraint of trade. The fact, however, that a contract is in partial restraint of trade forms no exception to the doctrine that adequacy of consideration cannot be inquired into.48