ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Monday, May 15, 2006

Today in History: Sherwood Buys a Cow

Aaa_45 Exactly 120 years ago today, May 15, 1886, at Walkerville (now part of Windsor), Ontario, distiller and cattle breeder Hiram ("Canadian Club") Walker and banker Theodore C. Sherwood struck a deal over a polled Angus cow named Rose.  Walker agreed to sell the cow, which he thought barren, for $80.  When she turned out to be with calf (and therefore worth as much as $1,000), Walker reneged, leading to the most famous "mutual mistake" case in U.S. history, Sherwood v. Walker.  In honor of the day, this lyric, to the tune of Bob Dylan's Just Like a Woman.

Now Sherwood needed a cow.
It's not clear if for breeding, or for chow.
He went to Walker's farm,
Thought there would be no harm --
But there he fell under Rose's fatal charm
And he knew --
She's the one.

She moos, just like a heifer (Yes she does)
And she chews grass just like a heifer (Yes she does)
And she woos bulls just like a heifer --
But she's priced just like a side of beef.

Now Sherwood offered to buy.
Old Walker pulled out a jug of rye.
Sherwood thought, "It's her I need!"
Walker thought, "She cannot breed."
The two men haggled and at last agreed
On a price --
For that Rose.


Sherwood went to get his cow,
Walker said, "Ah, now,
I won't let her go!
Eighty bucks?  Don't make me laugh!
This cow is now with calf!
And I tell you here,
She's now too dear!
Let me make it clear -- that

I just won't sell.
And Sherwood, you can go to hell!
The contract I will break,
Advantage I will take
Of the doctrine known as ‘mutual mistake,'
And you -- you're just screwed."


[Frank Snyder]

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