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.
While the manner in which a written instrument is altered may be of practical importance as indicating the intention of the party who made the alteration, or as giving notice to the subsequent holders of such instrument, the legal effect of an intentional material change in the written instrument is the same, no matter what means may be employed to effect such change;1 While most of the cases of alteration of the body of a written instrument are cases in which a provision was interlined, or in which a provision was marked out and another was substituted therefor,2 the act of a party in drawing lines or cross-marks through a material part of a written instrument without substituting anything therefor, amounts to a material alteration,3 since such act, if operative, would show that such words were not a part of the contract and had no legal effect. At the same time, the means by which the alleged alteration is made, may be of the utmost importance in ascertaining the intention with which it was done,4 which may be of the utmost importance in determining whether the modification in question was an alteration or not.5
1 'It is the .effect of the act upon the instrument, and not the particular manner in which it is done, which is material, whether it be by interlineation, addition, substitution, change of words, detaching material memoranda therefrom, erasure, or by cancelation of some material provision thereof. The drawing of cross-lines over a written instrument, or any part thereof, is a common mode of expressing an intent to erase or cancel it. The inference to be drawn from such an act is ordinarily a question of fact for the jury. It was so in thin case, and upon the whole evidence we hold that the court properly submitted the question to the jury. Wilson v. Hayes, 40 Minn. 531, 4 L. R. A. 196, 12 Am. St. Rep. 754, 42 N. W. 467; Warder, B. & G. Co. v. Willyard, 46 Minn. 531, 24 Am. St. Rep. 250. 49 N. W. 300. The charge of the court was as favorable to the plaintiff as it was entitled to have it. The evidence is sufficient to sustain a finding by the jury that the cross-marks were placed upon the clause of the contract in question by the plaintiff after its delivery, with the intention of canceling or erasing it, without the knowledge or consent of the defendants. Such an act constitutes an alteration of the instrument." O N. Bull Remedy Co v. Clark, 100 Minn. 396, 32 L. R A (N. S.) 519, 124 N. W. 20.
2 See Sec. 3089 et seq.
3 Illinois. Landt v. McCullough, 266 111. 214, 69 N. E. 107.
Indiana. Tate v. Fletcher, 77 Ind. 102
Iowa. Laub v. Paine, 46 Ia. 550, 26 Am. Rep. 163.
Minnesota. O. N. Bull Remedy Co v. Clark, 109 Minn. 396, 32 L R A. (N.S.) 519, 124 N. W 20.
Wisconsin. Page v. Danaher, 43 Wis 221; Hecht v. Shenners, 126 Wis. 27, 105 N. W 309.
4 See Sec. 3089 et seq.