It was early decided,35 that where some covenants of an indenture are legal and others illegal the legal covenants may be enforced. This is the simplest form of the problem of partly illegal contracts. If legal consideration has actually been given and a unilateral contract formed, or if the promises are under seal and binding without consideration, the rule thus early established has never been questioned.36 For the same reason
34 John Dere Plow Co. v. Wyland, 60 Kans. 255, 76 Pac. 863; Commonwealth v. Read Phosphate Co., 113 Ey. 32, 33 Ky. L. Rep. 2284, 67 S. W. 45; Neyens v. Worthington, 150 Mich. 580, 114 N. W. 404; Vaughan Machine Co. v. Lighthouse, 64 N. Y. App. Div. 138, 71 N. Y. S. 799; Lacy v. Armour Packing Co., 134 N. C. 567, 47 S. E. 53. See also Diamond due Co. v. United States Glue Co., 187 U. S. 611, 47 L. Ed. 328, 23 S. Ct. 206.
34a In Browning v. Waycross, 233 U. S. 16, 34 S. Ct. 578, 58 L. Ed. 828, a foreign unlicensed corporation contracted to sell and install lightning rods to be shipped into the State. It was held that the "affixing of lightning rods to houses was the carrying on of a business of a strictly local character peculiarly within the exclusive control of state authorities." See also Phoenix Nursery Co. v. Trostel, 166 Wis. 215, 164 N. W. 995, and a note collecting decisions in L. R. A. 1917 C. 1012.
35 Pigot's Case, 11 Coke, 26b, 27b.
36 Gelpoke v. Dubuque, 1 Wall. 221, 17 L. Ed. 530; McCullough v. Virginia, 172 U. S. 102, 115, 43 L. Ed. 382, 19 S. Ct. 134; Western Union Tel. Co. v. B. k S. W. Ry. Co., 3 McCrary, 130; McCullough v. Smith, 243 Fed. 823, 156 C. C. A. 335; Edgar v. Ames, 255 Fed. 835, 167 C. C. A. 163; Sims v. Alabama Brewing Co., 132 Ala. 311, 31 So. 35; Sales-Davis Co. v. Henderson Boyd Lumber Co., 193 Ala. 166, 69 So. 527; Denson v. Alabama Ac. Iron Co. (Ala.), 73 So. 525; Wells v. Vandalia R. Co., 56 Ind. App. 211, 103 N. E. 360; Osgood v. Bauder, 75 Iowa, 550, 39 N. W. 887,1LR.A. 655; Miller v. Atchison Ac. R., 97 Kans. 782, 156 Pac. 780; Stratton v. Wilson, 170 Ey. 61, 185 S. W. 522; Edleson v. Edleson, 179 Ky. 300, 200 S. W. 625; Presbury v. Fisher, 18 Mo. 50; Faist v.. Dahl, 86 Neb. 669, 126 N. W. 84; Erie Ry. Co. v. Union L. & E. Co., 35 N. J. L. 240; Leavitt v. Palmer, 3 N. Y. 19, 37, 51 Am. Dec. 333; Ohio v. Board of Education, 35 Ohio St. 519, 527; Pennsylvania Co. v. Wents, 37 Ohio St. 333, 339. Cf. Santa Clara where one of two things is promised in the alternative, and one is lawful and the other unlawful, the lawful promise may be enforced.37 But a qualification must be added to the broad statement of the rule. If the whole transaction was for an illegal purpose, or probably if the illegal covenants showed gross moral turpitude, the other covenants, though in themselves perfectly legal, would not be enforced.38 Perhaps the commonest application of the principle involved in the partial enforcement of an unreasonable contract is restraint of trade. If the covenants of such a contract can be divided and one division is within the limits allowed by law, it may be enforced, although the rest of the covenant extends the proposed restraint beyond permissible limits.39