Case Brief Wiki


On February 10, 1813 a letter written from Eliason to Henshaw proposing to buy flour at Georgetown and asking “Please write by return of wagon whether you accept our offer” to Harper’s Ferry. The letter was delivered to Henshaw on the 14th, but the wagoner informed them that he would not be returning to Harper's Ferry. Henshaw wrote in acceptance on the 15th and the letter was sent by the regular mail carriage to Georgetown on the 19th, the next available wagon. Eliason sent a reply on the 25th acknowledging the receipt of the letter, but said that the response was too late as it was not returned by the wagon. Henshaw sued for non-performance.


  1. Was the offer accepted according to the offeror's terms (the right time, place and manner)?


Appeal denied - No contract was formed.


Washington held there had been no acceptance and hence no contract was formed. While the judge implied in obiter that the letter could have worked as acceptance if it arrived roughly in the period a wagon would have, the judge thought that acceptance had to arrive in the location suggested by the offer - i.e in Harper's Ferry, not Georgetown.

Finding it was reasonable for Eliason to have dictated the terms of acceptance (as he was the offeror), the judge found that there was no contract between the parties, hence no breach.


An offeree must follow the terms stipulated by the offeror (e.g time/place/manner of acceptance) for acceptance to be valid.