The Metric System In Teh United States

2308 words - 9 pages

Americans live by the misconception that since the United States is the most superior country in the world that its present system of measurement is the most superior measurement system in the world. As of 2002, the United States has no definite plan to fully adopt the metric system.During the time of the first thirteen colonies, colonials brought over the English Customary from Europe. The Customary system was based on inches, pounds, and gallons. However, an inch in one colony could be completely different from an inch in the neighboring colony. Also, each of the first thirteen colonies was using different currencies. The government saw the need to find a uniform currency for all of the colonies to use and established a dollar currency system based on the decimal system.In 1790, then President George Washington urged Congress to set standards of weights and measures in the United States. Congress appointed Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to establish a new system. Jefferson planned to establish a new system based on decimal ratios, which the United States had recently adopted for its coins. Despite six years of discussion with Congress, Jefferson's plan was not adopted.Meanwhile, in 1790, the Paris Academy of Sciences was founded in France. It was here that the metric system was born. Its keystone became the "meter", a unit of length defined as one ten millionth of the distance from Earth's equator to the North Pole. In 1983, scientists redefined the meter as the distance traveled by light in a vacuum 1/299,792,458 of a second. This defined the meter more accurately but kept its length the same. "Meter" is derived from the Greek word meaning "a measure". The metric system was used sparingly by the French until January 1, 1840 when Napoleon Bonaparte made its use mandatory in France. From this, use of the metric system in Europe spread at a rapid pace. Author of "Metric Power" Richard Deming stated that "from 1840 on, the metric system began to receive ever-widening acceptance particularly in the scientific community which recognized in it a much-needed universal language of science" (27). By 1850, the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, and Italy all adopted the metric system. By 1900, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Norway, and 32 other countries had adopted the metric system.In 1816, the United States Congress appointed Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to reinvestigate the metric system issue. Adams submitted the Report Upon Weights and Measures to Congress in 1821. It covered both pros and cons of both the metric system and the Customary system and suggested four possible courses of action concerning the metric system for the United States. Congress still took no action.Congress did not take action to stimulate the use of the metric system in the United States until 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln formed the National Academy of Sciences to advise Congress on the issue. Congressman Jon A. Kasson approved the adoption of the metric system and...

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