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MEASURE. That which is used as a rule to determine a quantity. A certain
quantity of something, taken for a unit, and which expresses a relation with
other quantities of the same thing.
2. The constitution of the United States gives power to congress to "fix the standard of weights and measures." Art. 1, B. 8. Hitherto this has remained as a dormant power, though frequently brought before the attention of congress.
3. The states, it seems, possess the power to legislate on this subject, or, at least, the existing standards at the adoption of the constitution remain in full force. 3 Sto. Const. 21; Rawle on the Const. 102.
4. By a resolution of congress, of the 14th of June, 1836, the secretary of the treasury is directed to cause a complete set of all weights and measures adopted as standards, and now either made or in the progress of manufacture, for the use of the several custom-houses and for other purposes, to be delivered to the governor of each state in the Union, or to such person as he may appoint, for the use of the states respectively, to the end that an uniform standard of weights and measures may be established throughout the United States.
5. Measures are either, 1. Of length. 2. Of surface. 3. Of solidity or capacity. 4. Of force or gravity, or what is commonly called weight. (q.v.) 5. Of angles. 6. Of time. The measures now used in the United States, are the same as those of England, and are as follows
1. MEASURES OF LENGTH.
12 inches = 1 foot
3 feet = 1 yard
5 1/2 yards = 1 rod or pole
40 poles = 1 furlong
8 furlongs = 1 mile
69 1/15 miles = 1 degree of a great circle of the earth
An inch is the smallest lineal measure to which a name is given, but subdivisions are used for many purposes. Among mechanics, the inch is commonly divided into eighths. By the officers of the revenue and by scientific persons, it is divided into tenths, hundredths, &c. Formerly it was made to consist of twelve parts called lines, but these have fallen into disuse.
Particular measures of length.
1st. Used for measuring cloth of all kinds.
1 nail = 2 1/4 inches
1 quarter = 4 inches
1 yard = 4 quarters
1 ell = 5 quarters
2d. used for the height of horses.
1 hand = 4 inches 3d. Used in measuring depths.
1 fathom = 6 feet
4th. Used in land measure, to facilitate computation of the contents, 10 square chains being equal to an acre.
1 link = 7 92/100 inches
1 chain = 100 links
6.-2. MEASURES OF SURFACE.
144 square inches = 1 square foot
9 square feet = 1 square yard
30 1/4 square yards = 1 perch or rod
40 perches = 1 rood
4 roods or 160 perches = 1 acre
640 acres = 1 square mile
7.-3. MEASURES OF SOLIDITY AND CAPACITY. 1st. Measures of solidity. 1728 cubic inches = 1 cubic foot
27 cubic feet = 1 cubic yard.
2d. Measures of capacity for all liquids, and for all goods, not liquid, except such as are comprised in the next division.
4 gills = 1 pint = 34 2/3 cubic inches nearly.
2 pints = 1 quart = 691/2 " "
4 quarts = 1 gallon = 277 1/4 " "
2 gallons = 1 peck = 554 1/2 " "
8 gallons= 1 bushel = 2218 1/2 " "
8 bushels = 1 quarter = 10 1/4 cubic feet " 5 quarters = 1 load = 51 1/2 " "
The last four denominations are used only for goods, not liquids. For liquids, several denominations have heretofore been adopted, namely, for beer, the firkin of 9 gallons, the kilderkin of 18, the barrel of 36, the hogshead of 54; and the butt of 108 gallons. For wine or spirits there are the anker, runlet, tierce, hogshead, puncheon, pipe, butt, and tun; these are, however, rather the names of the casks, in which the commodities are imported, than as express any definite number of gallons. It is the practice to gauge all such vessels, and to charge them according to their actual contents.
3d. Measures of capacity, for coal, lime, potatoes, fruit, and other commodities, sold by heaped measure.
2 gallons = 1 peck = 704 cubic in. nearly. 8 gallons = 1 bushel = 28151/2 " " 3 bushels = 1 sack = 41 cubic feet "Formerly the subdivisions were carried on by sities; thus, the second was divided into 60 thirds, the third into sixty fourths, &c. At present, the second is more generally divided decimally into tens, hundreds, &c. The degree is frequently so divided.
12 sacks= 1 chaldron = 58 2/3 " "
8.-4. MEASURES OF WEIGHTS. See art. Weights.
9.-5., ANGULAR MEASURE; or, DIVISION OF THE CIRCLE.
60 seconds = 1 minute
60 minutes = 1 degree
30 degrees = 1 sign
90 degrees = 1 quadrant 360 degrees, or 12 signs = 1 circumference.
or 10.-6. MEASURE OF TIME.
60 seconds = 1 minute
60 minutes = 1 hour
24 hours = 1 day
7 days = 1 week
28 days, or 4 weeks = 1 lunar month 28, 29, 30, or 31 days = 1 calendar month
12 calendar months = 1 year
365 days = 1 common year
366 day = 1 leap year.
The second of time is subdivided like that of angular measure.
11. As the French system of weights and measures is the most scientific plan known, and as the commercial connexions of the United States with France are daily increasing, it has been thought proper here to give a short account of that system.
12. The fundamental, invariable, and standard measure, by which all weights and measures are formed, is called the metre, a word derived from the Greek, which signifies measure. It is a lineal measure, and is equal to 3 feet, 0 inches, 44/1000, Paris measure, or 3 feet, 3 inches, 370/1000 English. This unit is divided into ten parts; each tenth, into ten hundredths; each hundredth, into ten thousandths, &c. These divisions, as well as those of all other measures, are infinite. As the standard is to be invariable, something has been sought, from which to make it, which is not variable or subject to any change. The fundamental base of the metre is the quarter of the terrestrial meridian, or the distance from the pole to the equator, which has been divided into ten millions of equal parts, one of which is the length of the metre. All the other measures are formed from the metre, as follows:
2. MEASURE OF CAPACITY.
13. The litre. This is the decimetre; or one-tenth part of the cubic metre; that is, if a vase is made of a cubic form, of a decimetre every way, it would be of the capacity of a litre. This is divided by tenths, as the metre. The measures which amount. to more than a single, litre, are counted by tens hundreds, thousands, &c., of litres.
3. MEASURES OF WEIGHTS.
14. The gramme. This is the weight of a cubic centimetre of distilled water, at the temperature of zero; that is, if a vase be made of a cubic form, of a hundredth part of a metre every way, and it be filled with distilled water, the weight of that water will be that of the gramme.15. The arc, used in surveying. This is a square, the sides of which are of the length of ten metres, or what is equal to one hundred square metres. Its divisions are the same as in the preceding measures.
4. MEASURES OF SURFACES.
5. MEASURES OF SOLIDITY.
16. The stere, used in measuring firewood. It is a cubic metre. Its subdivisions are similar to the preceding. The term is used only for measuring firewood. For the measure of other things, the term cube metre, or cubic metre is used, or the tenth, hundredth, &c., of such a cube.
17. The franc. It weighs five grammes. it is made of nine-tenths of silver, and one-tenth of copper. Its tenth part is called a decime, and its hundredth part a centime.
18. One measure being thus made the standard of all the rest, they must be all equally invariable; but, in order to make this certainty perfectly sure, the following precautions have been adopted. As the temperature was found to have an influence on bodies, the term zero, or melting ice, has been selected in making the models or standard of the metre. Distilled water has been chosen to make the standard of the gramme, as being purer, and less encumbered with foreign matter than common water. The temperature having also an influence on a determinate volume of water, that with which the experiments were made, was of the temperature of zero, or melting ice. The air, more or less charged with humidity, causes the weight of bodies to vary, the models which represent the weight of the gramme, have, therefore, been taken in a vacuum.
19. It has already been stated, that the divisions of these measures are all uniform, namely by tens, or decimal fractions, they may therefore be written as such. Instead of writing,1 metre and 1 tenth of a metre, we may write, 1 m. 1. 2 metre and 8 tenths, 2 m. 8. 10 metre and 4 hundredths, 10 m. 04. 7 litres, 1 tenth, and 2 hundredths, 7 lit. 12, &c.
20. Names have been given to, each of these divisions of the principal unit but these names always indicate the value of the fraction, and the unit from which it is derived. To the name of the unit have been prefixed the particles deci, for tenth, centi, for hundredth, and milli, for thousandth. They are thus expressed, a decimetre, a decilitre, a decigramme, a decistere, a deciare, a centimetre, a centilitre, a centigramme, &c. The facility with which the divisions of the unit are reduced to the same expression, is very apparent; this cannot be done with any other kind of measures.
21. As it may sometimes be necessary to express great quantities of units, collections have been made of them in tens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, &c., to which names, derived from the Greek, have been given; namely, deca, for tens hecto, for hundreds; kilo, for thousands and myria, for tens of thousands; they are thus expressed; a decametre, a decalitre, &c.; a hectometre, a hectogramme, &c.; a kilometre, a kilogramme, &c.
22. The following table will facilitate the reduction of these weights and measures into our own.The Metre, is 3.28 feet, or 39.871 in.
Are, is 1076.441 square feet.
Litre, is 61.028 cubic inch
Stere, is 35.317 cubic feet.
Gramme, is 15.4441 grains troy, or 5.6481 drams, averdupois.A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.