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Successful Measures

On April 7, 1795, France introduced the metric system of measurement with the original units for length, area, volumes and mass. The main feature of the metric system is the standardized set of interrelated base units that include a standard set of prefixes in powers of ten.

Before the French Revolution, different systems of weights and measures existed within France depending upon region or county or even the city. To smooth the country’s trade and commerce, the use of a national system had been proposed and had received the support of the King of France. In the days following the outbreak of revolution, anything associated with the Ancien Régime, or former ways, was swept aside in radical attempts to re-root France in fresh democratic soil. The metric system was born of the desire to create a national mathematical system to replace old inefficiencies.

Sweeping new measures are usually neither welcome nor popular. France was no exception. The new principles of liberté, égalité, et fraternité did not quickly trickle down to weights and measures. The use and acceptance of new systems were generally hastened by powerful influences such as the Reign of Terror, its introduction of Madame La Guillotine, and the rise and exploits of a brilliant young French artillery officer called Napoleon.

Over the centuries, these decimal-based units were used to derive larger and smaller units and replace the cumbersome international range of previously unstandardized units of measure throughout the world.

B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage