This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Whether a legal institution, such as the contract, will be recognized and enforced in any given community and at any given time, and the extent to which it will be recognized and enforced, depend upon a number of different factors. In part it will depend upon the economic needs of the community. A community in which there is little or no commerce will develop a law of contract far more slowly than another community which engages in commerce. It will depend in part upon the standards and the ideas of the community. Probably a law of contract will develop more readily in a community the members of which are in fact given to keeping their promises, than in a community in which this moral trait is lacking. It will depend to a great extent upon the power of the government to enforce promises in some way. A community in which there is no central government or in which the central govern-ment is struggling feebly to suppress private war will probably develop a law of contract far more slowly than a community in which the central government is strong enough to maintain law and order, and to have a reserve of power sufficient to protect and enforce private rights. It will depend to a great extent upon the jurisdiction of the courts and upon procedure and remedies. No advanced law of contract can be expected in a community whose procedure is inadequate to determine disputed questions of fact; and whose remedies do not include the assessment of damages, or the placing of such constraint upon an unwilling promisor as to compel him to perform his promise.