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ence even in the country which gave it birth; as its universal establishment would be an universal blessing; and as, if ever effected, it can only be by consent, and not by force, in which the energies of opinion must precede those of legislation; it would be worthy of the dignity of the Congress of the United States to 3. the opinions of all the civilized nations with whom they have a friendly intercourse; to ascertain, with the utmost attainable accuracy, the existing state of their respective weights and measures; to take up and pursue, with steady, persevering, but always temperate and discreet exertions, the idea conceived, and thus far executed, by France, and to co-operate with her to the final and universal establishment of her system. “But, although it is respectfully proposed that Congress should immediately sanction this consultation, and that it should commence, in the first instance, with Great Britain and France, it is not expected that it will be attended with immediate success. Ardent as the pursuit of uniformity has been for ages in England, the idea of extending it beyond the British dominions has hitherto received but little countenance there. The operation of changes of opinion there is slow; the aversion to all innovations, deep. More than two hundred years had elapsed from the Gregorian reformation of the calendar, before it was adopted in England. It is to this day still rejected throughout the Russian empire. It is not even intended to propose the adoption by ourselves of the French metrology for the present. The reasons have been given for believing, that the time is not yet matured for this reformation. Much less is it supposed advisable to propose its adoption to any other nation. But, in consulting them, it will be proper to let them understand, that the design and motive of opening the communication is, to promote the final establishment of a system of wo and measures, to be common to all civilized nations. “In contemplating so great, but so beneficial a change, as the ultimate object of the proposal now submitted to the consideration of Congress, it is supposed to be most congenial to the end, to attempt no present change whatever in our existing weights and measures; to let the standards remain precisely as they are; and to confine the proceedings of Congress at this time to authorizing the Executive to open these communications with the European nations where we have accredited ministers and agents, and to such declaratory enactments and regulations, as may secure a more perfect uniformity in the weights and measures now in use throughout the Union. The motives for entertaining the opinion, that any change in our system at the present time would be inexpedient, are four: ‘First, That no change whatever of the system could be adopted, without losing the greatest of all the elements of unformity. that referring to the persons using the same system. This uniformity we now possess, in common with the whole British nation; the nation with which, of all the nations of the earth,'we have the most of that intercourse which requires the constant use of weights and measures. No change is believed possible, other than that of the whole system, the benefit of which would compensate for the loss of this uniformity.
«Secondly, That the system, as it exists, has an uniformity of proportion very convenient and useful, which any alteration of it would disturb, and perhaps destroy; the proportion between the avoirdupois and troy weights, and that between the avoirdupois weight and the foot measure; one cubic foot containing of spring water exactly one thousand ounces avoirdupois, and one pound avoirdupois consisting of exactly seven thousand grains troy.
'Thirdly, That the experience of France has proved, that binary, ternary, duodecimal, and sexagesimal divisions, are as necessary to the practical use of weights and measures, as the decimal divisions are convenient for calculations resulting from them; and that no plan for introducing the latter can dispense with the continued use of the former.
'Fourthly, that the only material improvement, of which the present system is believed to be susceptible, would be the restoration of identity between weights and silver coins; a change, the advantages of which would be very great, but which could not be effected without a corresponding and almost total change in our coinage and monies of account: a change the more exceptionable, as our monetary system is itself a new, and has hitherto been a successful institution.
'Of all the nations of European origin, ours is that which least requires any change in the system of their weights and measures. With the exception of Louisiana, the established system is, and always has been, throughout the union, the same. Under the feudal system of Europe, combined with the hierarchy of the church of Rome, the people were in servitude, and every chieftain of a village, or owner of a castle, possessed or asserted the attributes of sovereign power. Among the rest, the feudal lords were in the practice of coining money, and fixing their own weights and measures. This is the great source of numberless diversities existing in every part of Europe, proceeding not from the varieties which in a course of ages befell the same system, but from those of diversity of origin. The nations of Europe are, in their origin, all compositions ot victorious and vanquished people. Their institutions are compositions of military power and religious opinions. Their doctrines are, that freedom is the grant of the sovereign to the people, and that the sovereign is amenable only to God. These doctrines are Hot congenial to nations originating in colonial establishments. Colonies carry with them the general laws, opinions, and usages, of the nation from which they emanate, and the prejudices and passions of the age of their emigration. The North American colonies had nothing military in their origin. The first English colonies on this continent were speculations of commerce. They commenced precisely at the period of that struggle in England between liberty and power, which, after long and bloody civil wars, terminated in a compromise between the two conflicting principles. The colonies were founded by that portion of the people, who were arrayed on the side of liberty. They brought with them all the rights, but none of the servitudes, of the parent country. Their constitutions were, indeed, conformably to the spirit of the feudal policy, charters granted by the crown; but they were all adherents to the doctrine, that charters were not donations, but compacts. They brought with them the weights and measures of the law, and not those of any particular district or franchise. The only change which has taken place in England with regard to the legal standards of weights and measlures, since the first settlement of the North American colonies, has been the specification of the contents of measures of capacity, by prescribing their dimensions in cubical inches. All the standards at the exchequer are the same that they were at the first settlement of Jamestown ; with the exception of the wine gallon, which is of the time of queen Anne : and the standards of the exchequer are the prototypes, from which all the weights and measures of the union are derived.” pp. 91–94.
The official reports, above alluded to, upon the weights and measures, as authorized by the different state legislatures, and upon the state of the weights and measures used at the several custom houses in the United States, and other valuable documents appended to this work, we are obliged to leave unnoticed. Our limits will only admit of the following recapitulation of the propositions finally submitted to Congress for their adoption.
“The plan which is thus, in obedience to the injunction of both houses of Congress, submitted to their consideration, consists of two . the principles of which may be stated: 1. To fix the standard, with the partial uniformity of which it is susceptible, for the present, excluding all innovation. 2. To consult with foreign nations, for the future and ultimate establishment of universal and permanent uniformity. An apology is due to Congress for the length, as well as for the numerous imperfections, of this report. Embracing views, both theoretic and historical, essentially different from those which have generally prevailed upon the subject to which it relates, they are presented with the diffidence due from all individual dissent encountering the opinions of revered authority. The resolutions of both houses opened a field of inquiry so comprehensive in its compass, and so abundant in its details, that it has been, notwithstanding the lapse of time since the resolution of the Senate,as yet but very inadequately explored. It was not deemed justifiable to defer longer the answer to the calls of both houses, even if their conclusion from it should be the propriety rather of further inquiry than of immediate action. In freely avowing the hope that the exalted purpose, first con-, ceived by France, may be improved, perfected, and ultimately adopted by the United States, and by all other nations, equal freedom has been indulged in pointing out the errors and imperfections of that system, which have attended its origin, progress, and present condition. The same liberty has been taken with the theory and history of the English system, with the further attempt to shew that the latter was, in its origin, a system of beauty, of symmetry, and of usefulness, little inferior to that of modern France.
* The two parts of the plan submitted are presented distinctly from each other, to the end that either of them, should it separately obtain the concurrence of Congress, may be separately carried into execution. In relation to weights and measures throughout the Union, we possess already so near an approximation to uniformity of law, that little more is required of Congress for fixing the standard than to provide for the uniformity of fact, by procuring and distributing to the executives of the states and territories positive national standards conformable to the law. If there be one conclusion more clear than another, deducible from all the history of mankind, it is the danger of hasty and inconsiderate legislation upon weights and measures. From this conviction, the result of all inquiry is, that, while all the existing systems of metrology are very imperfect, and susceptible of improvements involving in no small degree the virtue and happiness of future ages; while the impression of this truth is profoundly and almost universally felt by the wise and the powerful of the most enlightened nations of the globe; while the spirit of improvement is operating with an ardor, perseverance, and zeal, honorable to the human character, it is yet certain, that, for the successful termination of all these labors, and the final accomplishment of the glorious object, permanent and universal uniformity, legislation is not alone competent. A concurrence of will is indispensable to give efficacy to the precepts of power. All trifling and partial attempts of change in our existing system.it is hoped, will be steadily discountenanced and rejected by Congress; not only as unworthy of the high and solemn importance of the subject, but as impracticable to the purpose of uniformity, and as inevitably tending to the reverse, to increased diversity, to inextricable confusion. Uniformity of weights and measures, permanent, universal uniformity, adapted to the nature of things, to the physical organization and to the moral improvement of man, would be a blessing of such transcendent magnitude, that, if there existed upon earth a combination of power and will, adequate to accomplish the result by the energy of a single act, the being who should exercise it would be among the greatest of benefactors of the human race. But this stage of human perfectibility is yet far remote. The glory of the first attempt belongs to France. France first surveyed the subject of weights and measures in all its extent and all its compass. France first beheld it as involving the interests, the comforts, and the morals, of all nations and of all after ages. In forming her system, she acted as the representative of the whole human race, present and to come. She has established it by law within her own territories ; and she has offered it as a benefaction to the acceptance of all other nations. That it is worthy of their acceptance, is believed to be beyond a question. But opinion is the queen of the world ; and the final prevalence of this system beyond the boundaries of France's power must await the time when the example of its benefits, long and practically enjoyed, shall acquire that ascendency over the opinions of other nations, which gives motion to the springs and direction to the wheels of power.' pp. 133—135.
Art. XII.—1. Public documents relating to the New York canals, which are to connect the western and northern lakes with the Atlantic ocean; with an introduction. Printed under the direction of the New York corresponding association for the promotion of internal improvements. New York, 8vo, pp. 536, 1821.
2. History of the rise, progress, and existing condition of the western canals in the state of New York, from September 1788 to the completion of the middle section of the Grand Canal, in 1819; together with the rise, progress, and existing state of modern agricultural societies on the Berkshire system, from 1807 to the establishment of the Board of Agriculture in the state of New York, January 10, 1820. By Elkanah Watson. Albany, 8vo, pp. 210. 1820.
3. A vindication of the claim of Elkanah Watson Esq. to the t merit of projecting the lake canal policy, as created by the
canal act of March 1792. And also a vindication of the