James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edmund Randolph, [8 January] 1795

From Edmund Randolph

Thursday1 [8 January 1795]

E. R. to J. M.

Mr. Fauchet’s communication about weights and measures goes to congress to-day.2 I inclose to you, as a private man, Rittenhouse’s opinion upon them;3 not thinking it proper to add that opinion to what is said to the house.

RC and enclosure (DLC). RC docketed by JM, with the date “1794.” Dated 30 Oct. 1794 in the Index to the James Madison Papers. Date here assigned on the basis of circumstances described in n. 2. For enclosure, see n. 3.

1Randolph first wrote, then crossed out, “Wednesday.”

2In his 8 Jan. 1795 message to Congress, Washington submitted several documents, including a translation of French minister Fauchet’s 2 Aug. 1794 letter to Randolph concerning plans for the metric system. Fauchet professed to “see in the adoption of the new measures by America a mean of cementing the political and commercial connexions of the two nations” and enclosed the 11 Dec. 1793 decree of the Committee of Public Safety ordering “a measure in copper, and a weight divided in the form decreed for the standards” sent to the U.S. government (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Miscellaneous, 1:115–16).

3Randolph enclosed a copy of David Rittenhouse’s 24 Oct. 1794 letter to him. In that letter, the director of the Mint praised the French proposals and copper model measures for the metric system: “They are well executed, and the simplicity of their subdivisions must strongly recommend them.”

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