The following work began in the author's preparation of notes for use in a course on the Law of Contracts given by him in the College of Law of the Ohio State University. His investigation for that purpose convinced him of the necessity of a work which should be a thorough presentation of the elements of the law of contracts, worked out from American cases, and making full use of the wealth of material contained in the reports of this country - material which is valuable because of the development in detail therein of the underlying principles of contract law, and the excellence of the illustrations of these principles given in the recent American cases; and much of which is available only by independent research. To state the law of contracts as it exists to-day in America is therefore the object of this work. At the same time no statement of that law can be complete if the original' common-law theory of contracts, and the gradual modification of that theory by the English courts, are omitted. The general principles of the early common law have been gradually transformed in English law, by judicial action, in a constant attempt to readjust them to the existing conditions of life; and this modified law has in turn been transplanted to a different country, and under new surroundings and conditions has undergone still further modification and development. It is impossible to understand the present working of a system of law which, like ours, is the result of long growth without understanding something of its earlier stages. Accordingly, the development of the common law of contracts has been considered wherever it appeared necessary to an understanding of its present form.

As the subject developed it was found that no complete presentation even of the elements of contract law was possible within the limits originally set Indeed, brevity of treatment and an elimination of collateral subjects have been found necessary to keep the work within the limits of three volumes.

The general outline of the subject, inherent in its very nature, which was worked out in its most popular and convincing form by Sir William Anson, has been followed in this work. The subject of contracts has been presented under the topics of Formation, Construction, Operation, and Discharge. No change in this outline has been made from desire for novelty of treatment. The nature of American law, the divergence between the views of American and English courts on many important matters, and the limitations existing in this country upon the power of the legislature, have made modifications and additions necessary to a logical discussion of this subject from the American standpoint.

The author hopes that this work may be of value to the legal profession, that it may make the lawyer's unremitting toil somewhat lighter, and that it may, even in a slight degree, tend to what should be the ultimate goal of every sincere writer on legal subjects - that is, to place our American jurisprudence on a broad, scientific and national basis.

WM. HERBERT PAGE. Columbus, Ohio,

January, 1905.

Page on Contracts