:: The legal
obligation from 1840 on ::
The 4 July 1837 Act
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
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.
everyboy was complaining about the weights and measures persistent
inconsistency. A review was imperative.
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.
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.
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
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."
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is and remains repealed.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
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".
decimal metric system was eventually and absolutely established in France.