At common law, a bill of exchange or other order for the payment of money might be accepted orally,2 but now by statute in England,3 and in most of the states in this country,* the acceptance is required to be in writing.
At common law, a contract of insurance need not necessarily be evidenced by a written policy.8 In some of the states, however, statutes have been enacted prescribing particular forms for such contracts.6
1 Ante, pp. 35. 52. 2 Norton, B. & N. (3d Ed.) 91, 99.
3 Bills of Exchange Act, § 17.
4 Uniform Negotiable Instruments Law, § 132 (220), now adopted in more than forty states.
5 Relief Fire Ins. Co. v. Shaw, 94 U. S. 574, 24 L. Ed. 291; Sanborn v. Insurance Co., 16 Gray (Mass.) 448, 77 Am. Dec. 419; First Baptist Church v. Insurance Co., 19 N. Y. 305; Ellis v. Insurance Co., 50 N. Y. 402, 10 Am. Rep. 495; Nebraska & I. Ins. Co. v. Seivers, 27 Neb. 541, 43 N. W. 351; Zell v. Insurance Co., 75 Wis. 521, 44 N. W. 828; Wooddy v. Insurance Co., 31 Grat. (Va.) 362, 31 Am. Rep. 732; Putnam v. Insurance Co., 123 Mass. 324, 25 Am. Rep. 93; Hardwick v. Insurance Co., 20 Or. 547, 26 Pac. 840; Stickley v. Mobile Ins. Co., 37 S. C. 56, 16 S. E. 280, 838; Howard Ins. Co. v. Owen's Adm'r, 94 Ky. 197, 21 S. W. 1037. See "Insurance," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 131; Cent, Dig. §§ 203-20!).
6 See Vance on Insurance, p. 29.
In some of the states an acknowledgment of a debt barred by the statute of limitations is required to be in writing, and signed by the debtor, in order to take the debt out of the statute.7
In some states, a promise by a person, after becoming of age, to pay a debt contracted during his infancy, is required by statute to be in writing.8
By act of congress assignments of patents and copyrights are required to be in writing.9
In most, if not in all, the states there are statutes regulating the mode of conveying land, and requiring writing, together with other formalities. In some states a deed is required. This, however, is a matter more properly for a work on real property.10