Posts Tagged ‘April 7th’

The Measure of a Man

Posted in On This Day on April 7th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 2 Comments

On this day in 1795, France adopted the meter as the standard unit of length. Revolutionary France obviously needed a new system of measurement; it had just cut off the tops of its old rulers.

Napoleon, however, was not that crazy about the Metric system. Perhaps under the old system, he seemed taller. While his conquering armies acted like liberals on steroids, and abolished serfdom, the Inquisition and the other medieval relics that still enslaved Europe, they did not attempt to impose the metric system. There were limits to Napoleon’s audacity.

Yet, where liberty, equality and fraternity have yet to take hold, the Metric system has. Of the allegedly advanced countries of the world, only the United States adheres to a medieval system of weights and measures. The length of the yard was said to be determined by Henry I of England; it was the distance from his nose to his outstretched end of his arm. Since Henry sired 21 children (only two with his wife) you can just imagine what other appendage he might have set as a standard of measurement.

Perhaps we should be grateful that 12 inches is called a foot.