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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 of 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 not 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 measures, 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 adinit 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 parts. 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 conceived 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 accoinplishment 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 trilling 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, Svo, pp. 210. 1820. 3. A vindication of the claim of Elkanah Watson Esq. to the
merit of projecting the lake canal policy, as created by the canal act of March 1792. And also à vindication of the
claim of the late Gen. Schuyler to the merit of drawing that act, and procuring its passage through the legislature. By Robert Troup Esq. Geneva, N. Y. 8vo, pp. 61. 1821.
In every state, which is blessed with a liberal and enlightened government, domestic improvements become an object of solicitude, the moment that protection from foreign violence is assured, the personal rights of the citizen protected, and the education of his children guarantied. When these essential points have been gained, the energies of government ought to be directed in improving the cultivation of the soil, in establisbing useful manufactures, and extending commerce, internal as well as foreign. The progress of the United States from their infancy to the present time might, perhaps, afford some elucidation of this course. It is not, however, our intention to mark the change which our soil has assumed, since the period of our independence, to advert to our thriving factories, to notice the invention of machines, which have done infinite honor to the mechanical genius of our countrymen, or to point out the general progress of industry and enterprise amongst us. We intend merely to direct the attention of our readers, in pursuance of the allusions to the general subject of internal improvement in a previous number of our review,* to the canals mentioned in the title of this article.
It would be a useless attempt to set forth at this day the advantages of canals. They are proved by the experience of every people who possess them, and demonstrated equally by the dingy workshops of Birmingham, and the civic palaces of Amsterdam. Canals destroy monopolies, by bringing remote places into competition; they give an immediate value to articles, which, from their weight or bulk, were before worthless; they unite distant places together by a reciprocal interest and an exchange of commodities; they animate industry, increase population, and thus minister abundantly to the power and happiness of every state. It is in this view, that the duke of Bridgewater may claim the proud honor of having been one of the most munificent benefactors of his country.
His first canal of only seven miles was executed so late as the years 1758-9. It induced others to follow the example ; and an artificial navigation of three thousand miles now not only contributes most powerfully to the maritime and commercial
* North American Review, vol. xi. p. 49 et seq.