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.
As in other questions of construction,1 the intention of the parties as to the entire or severable character of the contract must be determined by construing the contract as a whole;2 the surrounding circumstances are to be considered;3 and if the contract is ambiguous, the practical construction which the parties have themselves placed upon it is of great weight.4
In determining whether a contract is entire or severable, the intention of the parties is paramount,5 and, if this intention is clearly expressed, no question can arise as to which class of contract it is. This intention is, however, often not clearly expressed, as the parties have generally no clear idea whether the contract is entire or severable, and no definite idea of the legal consequences which would follow from its being in either class. The intention of the parties must therefore be deduced from the language used by the application of the ordinary rules of construction.6 The rules which are discussed hereafter are not rigid rules of law, but merely guides in aiding the courts to ascertain the intention of the parties.7
8 Macklem v. Fales, 130 Mich. 66, 89 N. W. 581.
9 Bank v. Union Trust Co., 149 111. 343, 23 L. R. A. 611, 36 N. E. 1029.
See also, Less v. English, 75 Ark. 288, 87 S. W. 447.
I See Sec. 2038
2 Baily v. DeCrespigny, L R.4Q.B. 180; International Contracting Co. v. United States, 47 Ct Cl. 158; Gilmore v. Samuels, 135 Ky. 706, 21 Am. & Eng. Ann. Cas 611, 123 S. W. 271; Ganong v. Brown, 88 Miss. 53, 114 Am. St. Rep. 731, 40 So 556.
3 Crawford v. Surety Investment Co., 91 Ran 748, 139 Pac. 481.
4 Gates v. Detroit & Mackinac Ry. Co., 147 Mich. 523, 111 N. W. 101; Manistee Navigation Co. v. Louis Sands Salt & Lumber Co., 174 Mich. 1, 140 N. W. 565; Powell v. Russell, 88 Miss. 549, 41 So. 5.
5 United States. Pollak v. Electric Association, 128 U. S. 446, 32 L. ed. 474; Loud v. Pomona Land & Water Co., 153 U. S. 564, 38 L. ed. 822.
Alabama. Lambie v. Steel Co., 118 Ala. 427, 24 So. 108.
Arkansas. Carr v. Hahn, 133 Ark. 401, 202 S. W. 685.
California. Sterling v. Gregory, 149 Cal 117, 85 Pac. 305; Los Angeles Gas & Electric Co. v. Amalgamated Oil Co., 156 Cal. 776, 106 Pac. 55.
Georgia. Willett Seed Co. v. Kirke-by-Gundentrup Seed Co., 145 Ga. 559, 89 S. E. 486.
Illinois. Huyett & Smith Mfg. Co. v. Chicago Edison Co., 167 111. 233, 59 Am. St. Rep 272, 47 N. E. 384
Iowa. Quarton v. American Law Book Co., 143 la. 517, 32 L. R. A. (N.S.)