A promise from the very meaning of the word involves an undertaking to do something in the future. A presently executed agreement is not a promise. As the typical offer is a promise though one in terms conditional upon the receipt by the promisor of some act or promise from the offeree, an examination of the requirements of an offer will necessarily include an examination of what is a legally sufficient promise. The chief requirement is that the promise shall be sufficiently certain in its terms to enable the court to understand what the promisor undertakes. Similarly an offer must state with the same certainty the act or promise which the offeror agrees unless the knowledge is acquired with the express or implied intention of the proposing party." To the same effect is Canney v. Southern Pacific R. Co., 63 Cal.501.
7 In Tinn v. Hoffman, 29 Law Times (N. S.), 271, on one construction of the bets there was an offer to sell 800 tons of iron. This offer by its terms had expired but had subsequently been renewed. After the renewed offer had been mailed, but in ignorance of the fact, the person to whom it was addressed purported to accept an offer to sell him 800 tons of iron on the terms in bet contained in the offer already mailed to him, but not received by him. Brett, J., held that there was no contract. The continued willingness of the offeror to sell on the terms of his original offer after that had expired Ml immaterial since unexpressed. The renewed offer, though it showed that the seller continued willing to stand by the terms of his original offer, did not revive that offer, but was itself a new offer. The buyer's assent to buy could not create a contract, because made in ignorance of the existence of any new offer to him. A somewhat similar point was involved in James v. Marion Fruit Jar Co., 69 Mo. App. 207. See also Harris v. Scott, 67 N. H. 437, 32 Atl 770. Compare Mao-tier's Adm. v. Frith, 6 Wend. 103, 21 Am. Dec. 262. In this decision, as in some other early cases, the court gave effect to the unexpressed intent of the parties as proved by their subsequent conduct.
The vote of a corporation to buy the land of a certain person does not constitute a promise to him. Madden v. Boston, 177 Mass. 360, 58 N. E. 1024.
to take in return for his promise if his terms are accepted.8 An apparent exception to the rule that a promise looks to the future, arises in the case of warranties or guaranties of existing facts, and also in the case of insurance against events which though unknown have already occurred; hut the exception is only apparent. The promises in such contracts are in effect agreements to be liable for damages arising from the nonexistence or existence of the fact to which the agreement relates. A promise also ex vi termini imports some communication actual or constructive from the promisor to the promisee. A secret intent cannot be a promise, nor does the manifestation of an intent by an overt act help the matter unless that act comes or should come within the knowledge of the other party and, therefore, can be looked upon as a means of communication.