IV. First State of the Report on Weights and Measures
Sir Isaac Newton has determined the length of a pendulum vibrating Seconds in latitude to be 39.2 inches = 3.2666 &c feet measuring from it’s point of suspension to it’s center of oscillation.
A rod vibrating seconds must be of the same length between the point of suspension and center of oscillation: and this center will always be found at two thirds of the whole length. Such a rod then will be 58.8 Inches or 4.9 feet English measure long. The divisions and multiples of this last measure accomodating themselves not at all to the measures and weights in use with us; but the double of it, to wit, 9.8 feet doing this remarkeably well and admitting a good check being equal to the Treble of the Pendulum of equal vibration1
Let the standard of measure be the Double length of a rod or Treble length of a Pendulum vibrating seconds. It will yeild us the following series of divisions and multiples.
of the same name
|A Line to be noted thus||.01||= .11732I.|
|10. lines = an Inch||.1||= 1.173||1.I||About ⅙ less|
|10. inches = a Foot||1.||= 11.738||12.||1/50 more|
|10. feet = the Double3 of a 1” Rod||10.||= 9.78 feet||16.5||⅓ more|
|10. rods4 = a Chain5||100.||= 97.821||66.||⅓ less|
|10. chains = a Furlong||1000.||= 978.212||660.||⅓ less|
|10. furlongs = a Mile||10000.||= 9782.125
|a square Chain of Land||100 f.sq.||= 9558.94 sq.f.||104.355 f.sq.||Eng.rood|
|or 10890 sq.f.|
|4. sq. chains = an Acre||200 f.sq.||= 195.642 f.sq.
| 208.71 f.sq.
or 43560 sq.f.
|English measures of
the same name
|A Cubic Inch6||.001||= 1.61749 I.||1.||about||⅓ less|
|10. cubic inches7 = Demi-pint||.01||= 16.749||16.875||1/24 less|
|10. demi-pints = Pottle||.1||= 161.749||135.||⅙ more|
|10. pottles = a cub. foot = Bushel or Firkin||1.||= 1617.496547987 c.I.||¼ less|
|10. bushels or firkins = a Quarter||10.||= 9.3605 cub.f.||11.736 cub. feet||⅕ less|
|10. quarters = a Double Tun8||100.||= 93.605||80.||1/7 more|
Let Rain water, as the most homogeneous substance, be referred to as the standard for weights, and a cubic of that be called an Ounce.
|Equivalents in English weights||English Weights of same name|
|= A Demigrain||.0001||.409522418 grs.||.5 gr. Troy||⅕ less|
|10. demigrains = a Carat||.001||4.09522418||4.||equal|
|10. Carats = a Double Scruple||.01||40.9522418||40.||1/40 more|
|10. double scruples = an Ounce (cub. I. rain water)||.1||.9360512 oz.=||409.52218
|10. ounces = aPound||1.||9.360512 oz.
|.7109764. ℔. Troy||1.℔. Troy||¼ less|
|10. pounds = a Stone||10.||93.60512 oz.
|7.109764 ℔. Troy||9.72 ℔. Troy||¼ less|
|10. stone = a Kental||100.||936.0512 oz.
|71.09764 ℔.|| 100. ℔.
|10. kental= a Demi-Tun9||1000.||9360.512 oz.
Let the Cubic inch, or Ounce of Rain water be the standard of weight for the Unit or Dollar.
|A Mill||.001||grs. Troy|
|10.mills = a Cent||.01||The ounce weight will be as above||409.522418|
|10. cents = a Dime||.1||Suppose the alloy 1/12||34.126868|
|10. Dimes = the Unit or Dollar||1.||Remains of pure Silver in the Dollar||375.395550|
|10. dollars = the Eagle||The Dollar as fixed by Congress had pure silver||375.64|
|Makes ¼ of a grain or 1/1500 of a Dollar difference||0.24445|
Qu. The Quantum of alloy being arbitrary to a certain degree, might it not be so fixed as to offer an easy means of trying the purity of the coin; viz. so proportioned that it should occasion the coin to lose 1/10 of it’s weight when weighed in water?
2. Qu. Or (supposing the value of pure gold to be to that of silver as 15:1) is it more convenient so to alloy both metals as that in a golden dollar e.g. the pure metal shall be 1/15 of that in the silver dollar, and the alloy 1/15 also of that in the silver dollar: so that the alloyed masses shall be in the same proportion with the pure metals they contained?
MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 233:41955); entirely in TJ’s hand except for the date “April 1790” on verso, which is in James Madison’s hand; with deletions and interlineations, some of which are noted below. The first paragraph has lines drawn through it (see note 1); this and other alterations indicate that the MS, though at first a fair copy, became a draft for subsequent texts as to that part summarizing the proportions between the proposed decimal notation and other systems of weights and measures. A considerable number of fragments, calculations, notes, &c in Jefferson’s hand are extant and related to the above text. For convenience of reference these are numbered and described as follows:
MS 1: The quarter-leaf in TJ’s hand in DLC: TJ Papers, 233: 41971 shows that TJ took up the matter of weights and measures shortly after arriving in New York. It bears the date “1790. Mar. 28.” and reads: “The cubic foot (Eng) of water weighs 1000. oz. If the foot were divided into 10. inches, a cubic inch of water would be 1. oz. But 1 oz. is near the weight of a dollar. Cannot the Dollar, the ounce, and the inch be thus made the center of money, weights and measures e.g. declare a cube of water of the weight of a dollar shall be an inch. 10.I. a foot. [On verso:] Declare correspondence between the mile and 1’ pendulum.
|geom. mile 1 = 2000 yds. or||1000 fathom|
|foot||1/10m||=||7 ¼ Inches|
|acre 10 square chains|
Water the substance
1 cubic inch (Oncia) the ounce = ⅕ oz.
10 oz the ℔
10 ℔ the stone
10 stone the Kental
10 Kentals the
10 the Myriad
[At foot of page, ruled off from the above:] Rather take cubic foot = 12½ and call it the stone or 1/10 stone a pound = 1¼ ℔ 1/10 ℔. an ounce = 2 oz. Avoird. 1/10 oz.” This MS bears notes from 1787 to 1790: (1) “Marseilles Hotel des Princes ce 31me Mars 1787” (2) an abbreviated notation reading “amg the 1st. obj. of yr. attentn,” which may refer to the heading for a paragraph in TJ’s letter to Madison of 18 Nov. 1788; and (3) a note belonging perhaps to 1789 reading: “1200℔ for Gates’s medal-Wythe-King.” This MS is clearly the earliest record of TJ’s speculations about a system of weights and measures after he arrived in New York.
MS 2: A single sheet in TJ’s hand, DLC: TJ Papers, 233: 41966 is the first draft of the MS printed above, but contains only the comparative figures for the proposed units. The equivalent figures vary, however: the inch is 1.176 instead of 1.173 English measure; the ounce is .94119 avoirdupois and 411.770625 grains Troy instead of .9360512 and 409.52218 respectively; the cubic inch is 1.62638 English measure instead of 1.61749; and the calculation for the unit of money varies in accordance with the variation in the ounce. The figures in this MS were originally the same as those in MS printed above, but were altered by overwriting, the multiples of the units of measure and weight being altered accordingly (see note 2, below). The names of the various measures and weights are the same as in MS printed above, except that the measures of length begin with the point, and in the measures of capacity the “double Ton” is also deleted in this draft and “Last” is interlined (see note 8).
MS 3: Miscellaneous notes concerning various statutory definitions of various English weights and measures, all in TJ’s hand, undated, and written on blank address-covers of letters and other scraps of paper are to be found in DLC: TJ Papers, 233: 41953–4, 41958v, and 41959–61. These notes served as the basis for corresponding parts of the report and are sometimes repetitive. A series of equations and calculations on similar scraps of paperone of which bears a Richmond postmark of 9 April—is also to be found in DLC: TJ Papers, 233: 41956–8, 41961V-5, 41967–8, 41970, and 41980–1. Some of the notes and calculations concerning the silver content of the dollar probably belong to late 1790 and early 1791. A memo at f.41968 relates to the second query in MS printed above and also contains a calculation concerning the number of cents to be struck from copper sheets at 80 per ton—a notation probably made when TJ was preparing the report on copper coinage (see under 14 Apr. 1790). This juxtaposition of the two notes is further confirmation of the assumed date of early April 1790 for this first state of the report on weights and measures.
1. All of the text to this point was struck out by TJ employing crossed and diagonal lines.
2. The equivalents in all of the measures and weights are altered by overwriting (see MS 2 above).
3. Above this word TJ wrote the tentative designations “Decades” and “ruthe.” This and other similar designations are in a less formal handwriting than that of the text and were obviously added after MS had served its purpose as a clear copy.
4. Above this word TJ wrote the tentative designation “decades.”
5. Above this word TJ wrote the tentative designations “Centuple,” “Rood,” and “Ruthe.”
6. Above this word TJ wrote the tentative designation “Roquille.”
7. These two words are deleted in MS and the word “Roquilles” substituted therefor.
8. These two words are deleted in MS and the word “Last” substituted therefor.
9. This word is deleted in MS; TJ then substituted “Pipe …” for it, after which he deleted these two terms and interlined “Hogshead.” See MS 2 above.