The Metric System In Teh United States

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

download word file, 9 pages 0.0

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...