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.
- Was the offer accepted in the right time, place and manner?
Washington held there had been no acceptance and hence no contract was formed. Three things were amiss:
- the contract was not accepted within the proper time - not sent back by the wagon;
- the contract was not accepted in the right place - the acceptance should have been sent back to Harper's ferry, not to Georgetown; and
- the contract was not accepted by the correct manner - should have been sent by wagon, but was sent by mail.
Finding it is perfectly reasonable for Eliason to have dictated the terms of acceptance, he finds no contract was created and hence no breach.
Offeree must follow the terms of the offeror (time/place/manner of acceptance) for an acceptance to be valid and binding.