Metric System Apparatus

Metric Units Made Legal

By the 1860s, several American reformers believed that the metric system should be used in the United States. As Assistant Postmaster under President Lincoln, Iowa lawyer and Republican activist John A. Kasson argued that use of metric units would save money on international mail. Later, as a member of the House of Representatives, Kasson advocated legislation that would make the metric system legal in the U.S. In the same era, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences recommended that the country adopt a decimal system of weights and measures, and Parliament voted to legalize metric units in Britain. In 1866, Kasson’s legislation legalizing metric weights and measures passed both houses of Congress without discussion and was signed into law. Soon the Office of Weights and Measures was preparing metric standards for distribution to the states.