:: The legal obligation from 1840 on ::
The 4 July 1837 Act

After Louis XVIII came to power in April 1814, everybody was wondering whether the metric system was to be kept. Immediately there was a great confusion about weighing and measuring in all France. However, the Department of the Interior demanded a quick decision from the king who signed it on 4 July. It said that "the metric system is going on following the same level it previously was".

The Institute for Metrology and Technology continued its activities. Indeed, in August 1821, the management unit began a general review of department standards, in December 1825, a royal order laid down the general regulations of the Institute for weights and measures ascertaining.

Nevertheless, everyboy was complaining about the weights and measures persistent inconsistency. A review was imperative.

The government established a bill which read: "the former weights and measures that governments wanted to abolish remain, after so many efforts, and are still used in a huge number of cities.

"It was thought in 1812 that it would be possible to give the deathblow to local measures by restoring the names the people was used to, by bringing metric units closer to the former ones and above all by removing decimal divisions.

"These expectations have disappointed and were bound to. Habits were made more persistent by caring about them and by making concessions that were not enough justified. The 1812 lawmaker had not sufficiently understood that it was not people's "needs" but their "habits" which had resisted the metric system adoption.

"It seems that the time has come for a salutary revocation of the concessions that were made in 1812. Nowadays, people are more educated. The metric system is widespread since it is still taught in school. Primary education is developping a lot and therefore it will help the metric system spread better among the population and the poor, as soon as it is constant and implemented again. Everything indicates that the new law will not demand anything impossible and will establish indefinitely the uniformity of weights and measures by making the metric system compulsory everywhere and for everyone and by forbidding the use of other systems."

The Parliament passed the bill, which became the 4 July 1837 Act. Here are some excerpts: "The 12 February 1812 decree which deals with weights and measures is and remains repealed. Nevertheless, the use of weighing and measuring instruments made in compliance with this decree will be allowed until 1 January 1840.

"From 1 January 1840 on, any weight or measure other than the weights and measures established by the 7 April 1795 and the 10 December 1799 Acts that are constituent of the decimal metric system, will be forbidden as said in the sentences of the Penal Code article 479".

The decimal metric system was eventually and absolutely established in France.

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