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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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8111. STANDARD (Measures), Invariable.—
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8111. STANDARD (Measures), Invariable.—

On the subject of weights and
measures, you will have, at its threshold, to encounter
the question on which Solon and
Lycurgus acted differently. Shall we mould our
citizens to the law, or the law to our citizens?
And in solving this question their peculiar character
is an element not to be neglected. Of the
two only things in nature which can furnish an
invariable standard, to wit, the dimensions of
the globe itself, and the time of its diurnal
revolution on its axis, it is not perhaps of much
importance which we adopt. * * * I sincerely
wish you may be able to rally us to either standard,
and to give us an unit, the aliquot part of
something invariable which may be applied simply
and conveniently to our measures, weights


Page 831
and coins, and most especially that the decimal
divisions may pervade the whole. The convenience
of this in our moneyed system has been
approved by all, and France has followed the
To John Quincy Adams. Washington ed. vii, 87.
(M. 1817)