The legislation in many of the United States,9 depriving a seal of the efficacy which it had at common law, has been unfortunate in depriving the law of a simple and easy means for the voluntary discharge of liabilities. For a voluntary parol agreement to discharge a debtor from liability was not efficacious at common law,10 and in States where a seal is at most presumptive evidence of consideration, a release with or without a seal must be on the footing of a parol agreement.11 In a few jurisdictions 12 statutes have qualified this result by giving an unsealed release in writing the effect which the common law gave to sealed writings only. The courts of a few other States by judicial legislation have given the effect of a sealed release to a written discharge or acknowledgment of receipt in full.13
9 See supra, Sec. 218.
10 See infra, Sec. 1829.
11A sealed release made in Michigan was disregarded on this ground in Wabash Ry. v. Brow, 65 Fed. 941, 12 C. C. A. 222. So in Missouri, Winter v. Kansas City Ry. Co., 160 Mo. 159, 61 8. W. 606.
It should be noticed that in New York (and perhaps other States) the statute depriving a seal of its common-law effect applies only to executory contracts. Hence a voluntary release is good. Homans v. Tyng, 66 N. Y. App. Div. 383, 387, 67 N. Y. 8. 792; Finch v. Simon, 61 N. Y. App. Div. 139, 70 N. Y. S. 361.
12 See the statutes of California, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, cited supra, Sec. 218. An informal waiver or agreement does not come within these statutes. The instrument must purport to be a release. Wheelock v. Pacific Gas Co., 51 Cal. 223; Upper San Joaquin Co. v. Roach, 78 Cal. 552, 21 Pac. 304. See also Miller v. Fox, 111 Tenn. 336, 76 S. W. Rep. 893.
But under the Alabama statute (Code, Sec.2774) a receipt in full if intended as a release is effectual as such. Eu-faula Nat. Bank v. Passmore, 102 Ala. 370, 14 So. 683; Stegall v. Wright, 143 Ala. 204, 38 So. 844.
13 Green v. Langdon, 28 Mich. 221; Holmes v. Holmes, 129 Mich. 412, 89 N. W..47; Gray v. Barton, 55 N. Y. 68,14 Am. Rep. 181; Ferry v. Stephens, 66 N. Y. 321; Carpenter v. Soule, 88 N. Y. 251, 42 Am. Rep. 248. See contra, Reynolds v. Reynolds, 55 Ark. 369; Warren ». Skinner, 20 Conn. 559; Stamper v. Hayes, 25 Ga. 546; Bingham v. Browning, 197 111. 122, 64 N. E. 317; Dennett v. Lamson, 30 Me. 223; First Bank v. Marshall, 73 Me. 79; Sigourney v. Sibley, 21 Pick. 101, 32 Am. Dec. 248; Gold Medal Sewing Mach. Co. v. Harris, 124 Mass. 206. See the discussion by Professor Decker in 1 111. Law Bulletin, 166.