If an acceptance is actually received by the offeror which complies with the terms of the offer, while the offer is still a letter once mailed can be withdrawn by the party who mailed it. When letters are placed in ft poet-office, they are within the legal cutsody of the offers of the government, and it is the duty of postmaster a to deliver them to the parties to whom they ore addressed. United States v. Pond, 2 Curtis, C. C. 255; Buell v, Chapin, 99 Mass. 594, 97 Am. Dec. 58; Morgan v. Richardson, 13 Alien, 410; Tayloe p. Mer-chants" Fire Ins. Co., 13 L. Ed. 187, 9 How. 390." 26 "See supra, Sec. 80.
28See infra, Sec.211.
29 In Canterbury v. Bank of Sparta, 91 Wis. 53, 64 N. W. 311, 30 L. R. A. 845, 51 Am. St. Rep. 870, ft check was dispatched by mail in accordance with an offer. It was held that the title to the check passed at once on the mailing, and that when it was subsequently withdrawn from the mail by the sender, he converted the check, and was liable for its amount. See further, supra, Sec.80.
open, a contract will be formed. Accordingly if for any reason an acceptance when mailed or dispatched by telegraph does not complete the contract, as, for instance, because the use of the mail or telegraph was not authorized, or because the acceptance was not properly addressed, a contract will, nevertheless, be formed if the acceptance is received while the offer still remains open.30 An inquiry suggests itself which does not seem to have been considered by the courts; how far the duration of the offer may be affected by permitting an accept-tance, ineffective when sent, to become valid when received. If an offer is sent by mail from San Francisco to Boston, expressly or impliedly requesting an answer by the same channel, it may be supposed that an answer by mail must be sent within a day or two to create a contract, and if so sent will form a contract when it is mailed. As the mailing constitutes the acceptance, this seems to involve the conclusion that a reasonable time within which acceptance must be made is a day or two. Let it be supposed that the offeree instead of taking this course waits three or four days longer than would be permissible if he had used the mails, and then sends a telegraphic acceptance which reaches the offeror as soon as a letter promptly mailed would have reached him. It seems certainly arguable that when the telegram was sent no offer was open; yet if this result is accepted, the general statements sometimes made must be qualified. It must follow that where a letter of acceptance is called for, and one is sent which is misdirected but which, nevertheless, arrives as soon as if it had been correctly addressed, no contract is created unless the letter of acceptance arrives within a time which would have been reasonable not for receiving, but for dispatching a properly addressed letter. The only apparent escape from the difficulty (which is a consequence of the prevailing rule that mailing an acceptance may create a contract) is to say that a reasonable time for the acceptance of an offer is not an absolute quantity even for that offer but may vary with the means adopted for accepting. Thus a reasonable time for dispatching a letter of acceptance would be shorter than the time permitted if the acceptor accepted in person or put the acceptance directly in the offeror's hands. Though this reasoning is somewhat forced, it is not impossible, and the fact that such an expression as "return mail," when inserted in an offer as a requirement has been construed as meaning within such a time as return mail would reach the offeror,31 seems to indicate a disposition on the part of the courts to give effect to the probable attitude of .mind of the offeror, which ordinarily regards the time when receipt of the acceptance is expected, not the time when it shall be started. One may suppose, however, conditions in an offer concerning the time of acceptance from which escape would be difficult. If an offer by mail said "this offer will be open three days " or "this offer must be accepted within three days " presumably an acceptance mailed within that time would be sufficient; but it seems a difficult construction to interpret the offer as meaning that acceptance may be made at any time within which a letter mailed in three days would normally take to reach the offeror. Unless such a construction could be given the offer, a misdirected acceptance mailed within three days would be ineffectual if it arrived after the lapse of three days, although it arrived as soon as it would if it had been properly directed. When it is proved that a letter properly addressed and stamped was put in the mail there is a presumption that it reached its destination in due course of post.32 A similar presumption has been applied to telegrams.33
30See as to telegrams-Webb v. Sharman, 34 U. C. Q. B. 410; Perry v. Mt. Hope Iron Co., 15 R. I. 380, 6 Atl. 632, 2 Am. St. Rep. 902; Lucas v. Western Union Tel. Co., 131 Ia. 669, 109 N. W. 191. As to mail-Linn v.
McLean, SO Ala'. 360, 365; Summers v. Hibbard, 153 111. 102, 38 N. E. 899, 46 Am. St. Rep. 872; Potts v. Whitehead, 20 N. J. Eq. 55 (5 C. E. Green); Haines v. Dearborn, 199 Pa. 474, 49 Atl. 319.
31See Sec. 76.
32Warren v. Warren, 1 Cr. M. & R. 250; Bustard v. Levering, 6 Wheat, 102, 5 L. Ed. 215; Rosenthal B.Walker, 111 U.S. 185,195,28 L. Ed. 395; Kimberly s. Arms, 129 U. S. 512, 529, 32 L. Ed. 764, 0 Sup. Ct. 355; Young v. Clapp, 147 111. 176, 190, 32 N. E. 187, 35 N. E. 372; Goodwin v. Provident, etc., Ass'n, 97 Ia. 226, 66 N. W. 157, 32 L. R. A. 473, 59 Am. St. Rep. 411; Coffins v. Swan Lumber Co., 158
Ky. 231,164 S. W. 813; Chase v. Surry, 88 Me. 488, 34 Atl. 270; McDowell v. Aetna Insurance Co., 164 Mass. 444,
41 N. E. 665; Farmers' Handy Wagon Co. v. Newcomb, 192 Mich. 634, 159 N. W. 152; Dade v. Aetna Ins. Co., 54 Minn. 336, 56 N. W. 48; Hand v. Howell, 61 N. J. L. 142, 38 Atl. 748; Jansen v. McCorkell 154 Pa. 323, 26 Atl. 366.
32Eppinger v. Scott, 112 Cal. 369,
42 Pac 301, 44 Pac. 723, 53 Am. St.