A decree for uniform weights and measures (1793)


On August 1st 1793 the National Convention passed the following decree, providing for uniform weights and measures across France:


“The National Convention, convinced that uniformity of weights and measures is one of the greatest benefits that it can offer to all French citizens… decrees the following:

Article 1. The new system of weights and measures, based on the measure of the Earth’s meridian and on decimal division, will be uniformly used in the whole of the Republic. However, to allow all citizens time to become acquainted with these new measurements, the provisions of the preceding article will only become compulsory in one year from the day of publication of the current decree. Citizens are merely invited to make use of it before this time.

Standards of the new weights and measures will be completed by artists chosen by the Academy of Science, and these will be sent to all administrative bodies of departments and districts…

The Convention requires the Academy to put together a manual for the use of all citizens, containing simple instructions on the manner in which the new weights and measures should be used, and on the application of arithmetical equations concerning decimal division.

Instructions on the new measurements and their relationship to the most widely used old ones will be inserted into elementary arithmetic textbooks, which will be created for national schools.”