:: The 7 April 1795
Décision de tracer le mètre,
unité fondamentale, sur une règle de platine.
Nomenclature des « mesures républicaines ».
Reprise de la triangulation.
When it was decided to
draw the metre, the fundamental unit,
on a platinum measure, and to create a nomenclature
of the "republican measures".
a rather long pause, the representatives who are in charge of weights and
measures work again in 1795. They sent a report to the legislative body,
which promulgated the 7 April 1795 Act which is considered as a fundamental
text for the decimal metric system:
Art. 1. The period prescribed by the 1 August 1793 decree concerning
the use of the new weights and measures is protected, concerning statutory
legislation, until the national convention has ruled on it anew because of
manufacturing progress. Nevertheless, citizens are invited to show their
attachment to the new measures by using them from now on for their
commercial calculations and transactions.
Art. 2. There will be only one weights and measures standard for the
whole Republic; it will be a platinum measure on which the metre - which was
adopted as the fundamental unit of the whole measuring system - will be
standard will be made with the utmost accuracy, using experiments and
observations made by the representatives who are in charge of its
determination. It will be presented to the legislative body, and so will be
the minutes of the operations which will be necessary to determine it, so
that they can be checked anytime.
Art. 3. A model true to the prototype standard and a model of weight
that will be exactly deducted from the new measuring system will be sent to
the principal town in every district. These models will be used to
manufacture all sorts of measuring tools that citizens can use.
Art. 4. As the platinum standard is so extremely accurate it could
not influence on the "mesures usuelles" exactness, these measures will still
be manufactured according to the metre length that was adopted by previous
Art. 5. The new measures will be distinguished from now on thanks to
the adjective republican, and their nomenclature is definitely
length of a metre is equivalent to the ten millionth part of the
quadrant of the earth which is situated between the boreal pole and the
are is the measure for land area and is equivalent to one hundred
stere is the measure for firewood, and is equivalent to a cubic metre;
litre is the capacity measure, as well for liquids as for dry
materials, whose capacity is that of the cube of the metre tenth part.
gramme is the absolute weight of a clear water volume, which is equal to
the cube of the hundredth part of the metre at ice melting point.
the money unit will be called franc, to replace the name livre
which was used until then.
Art. 6. The metre tenth part will be called decimetre and its
hundredth part will be called centimetre.
decametre is a ten-metre measure, which is very convenient for ground
hectometre is one hundred-metre long.
a kilometre is one thousand-metre long and a myriametre is
ten-thousand-metre long. They are principally route measures.
Art. 7. Denominations for measures of other type will be determined from
the same principles as the ones used in the previous article:
decilitre is a capacity measure ten times less important than a
litre; a centigramme is the hundredth part of a gramme weight.
decalitre is a ten litre measure; a hectolitre is a hundred
litre measure and a kilogramme is a thousand gramme weight.
measures will be named the same way.
the tenth and hundredth parts of the franc are called decime and
centime, as expressed in the previous decrees.
Art. 8. Concerning capacity weights and measures, each decimal measure
has its double and its half to make sale process more convenient. There thus
will be the double-litre and the half-litre, the
double-hectogramme and the half-hectogramme…
Art. 9. The former measures will be replaced step by step and at
different times to make it easier and cheaper. These times will be chosen by
the National Convention as soon as republican measures are created in
sufficient quantities, and as soon as everything needed for this change is
settled. The new system will be firstly implemented for banknotes and coins,
then for linear or length measures. It will be progressively extended to all
Art. 10. The operations concerning the determination of measure units,
based on the earth's size and that were carried by the Academy of Science
and the temporary measurement commission, will be carried on until the end
by particular commissionners. These commissionners will be chosen
principally amidst the scientists that already took part in it. The
temporary measurement commission is removed.
Art. 11. To replace it, there will be created a
Temporary Agency which will be under the Public Committee of Investigation.
It will have three members who will be in charge of everything related to
the renewal of weights and measures, except for the operations left to
particular commissionners mentionned in the previous article.
members will be named by the National Convention, on the proposal of its
Public Committee of Investigation. Their salary will be settled by this
committee which will consult the finance committee.
Art. 12. The main functions of the Temporary Agency are:
Seeking and employing the best means to facilitate the manufacture of the
new weights and measures for all citizens;
Providing for the making and the sending of the patterns that are necessary
to check the measures in each district;
Establishing and spreading the directives aimed at teaching the new measures
and how they are related to the previous ones;
Taking charge of the disposals that could be necessary to regulate the use
of the republican measures and submitting them to the Public Committee of
Investigation, which will report it to the National Convention;
Stopping the state expenses for the operations that will be necessary for
the determination and the setting of the new measures, so that these
expenses can be paid by the Public Committee of Investigation;
Lastly, communicating with the authorities and citizens of the whole
Republic, about everything that can be useful to hasten the weights and
Art. 13. The republican measure manufacturing will be made, as possible,
by machines, so that processes are easier and faster, and so that
consequently purchasing measures is cheap for citizens.
Art. 14. The Temporary Agency will choose the most profitable machines:
it will order ones to the cleverest artists if necessary, or there will be
public calls, depending on the circumstances. It will also be able to grant
incentives or advances, materials or machines, to the entrepreneurs who will
commit themselves in any important part of the new weights and measures
manufacturing. But in this case, the Agency will have to get the
authorization of the Public Committee of Investigation.
Art. 15. The Temporary Agency will determine the shape of the different
kinds of measures, and the materials in which they will be made, so that
their use is as profitable as it is possible.
Art. 16. The name of each measure will be engraved
in it; and all will be stamped with a Republic hallmark that will guarantee
the exactness of it.
Art. 17. Inspectors will check the hallmark in every district. The
inspectors' number and functions will be part of the regulations prepared by
the Agency and then submitted to the National Convention by its Public
Committee of Investigation.
Art. 18. The measures will be chosen in such a way that, in ordinary
situations, there will be no need of fractions smaller than the hundredth.
Agency will try and achieve this issue by staying closely to trade
Art. 19. Instead of the report tables which were demanded in the 8 May
1790 decree, graphic scales will be made to estimate these reports without
any calculation. The Agency is in charge of giving it the more profitable
form, giving the method and spreading it as much as possible.
Art. 20. To make easier the trade relations between France and foreign
countries, a book will be written under the Agency management. It will
present the French measures ratio with the ones of the main trade cities of
these other countries.
Art. 21. There will be a one-hundred-fifty-thousand livrecapital in
order to provide for all the expenses in relation with the new measures
setting and for the advances that are essential for the success of this
operation. The National Revenue Office will have this capital at disposal
for the purpose of the Public Committe of Investigation.
Art. 22. The clause of the 24 November 1793 Act that makes compulsory
the use of the decimal division of the day and its parts is indefinitely
Art. 23. The previous acts articles that are opposed to this decree are
Art. 24. Immediately after the publication of this decree, manufacturing
and importing any former measure is forbidden in France and liable to a
seizure and a fine that is the double of the objects value.
Public Administration Committee, the police and courts, and the National
Incomes Committee are in charge of the execution of the present article.
Art. 25. As soon as the prototype standard of the Republican measures is
presented to the legislative body by the commissioners in charge of its
making, a monument will be set up to keep it and preserve it from the
assault of time.
Temporary Agency will be in charge of this project of a monument aimed at
consecrating in a indestructible way this creation of the Republic, the
triumphs of the French, and the development status in which lights have
Art. 26. The Public Committee of Investigation has to take any means
that are necessary to implement the present decree and the whole renewal of
weights and measures for the whole Republic.
will suggest to the Convention the legislative clauses which will depend on
Art. 27. The Temporary Agency will explain its processes to the Public
Committee of Investigation with which it will be able to correspond directly
for the processes promptness.
Art. 28. All authorities and government officers are demanded to work as
much as they can towards the important operation that is the renewal of
weights and measures."