However, an accidental event such as a deviation in the maritime course and the interception by corsairs prevented this from coming to fruition.
Why doesn’t the US have a metric system?
The fact that in the United States they have not adopted the metric system is well known and you may never have considered what is the reason for this. To answer this question we have to go back 230 years, when in 1793, the French scientist Joseph Dombey sailed to the newly formed United States at the request of Thomas Jefferson carrying two objects that could have changed America.
The first was a metal cylinder, which had exactly one kilogram of mass. The second was a copper bar the length of a new proposed measure of distance, the meter. He never achieved the task that was entrusted to him and it is, broadly speaking, the reason why The United States has units of measurement that are practically unique in the modern world, being one of a handful of countries that maintains its own unique forms of weights and measures.
Dombey’s ship veered off course, was captured by English privateers (pirates with government authorization), and the scientist died on the island of Montserrat while waiting to be rescued. Taken to the Montserrat prison, they never heard from him again. The news of his death was communicated to the Committee of Public Instruction on the 27 de vendémiaire of the year III (27 October 1794).
Jefferson wanted something new, more rational, and he wasn’t alone. In the first State of the Union address in 1790, George Washington pronounced: “Uniformity in the coinage, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and, I am convinced, will be duly attended to.”
Some pirates against the plans of the United States
The cylinder and rod carried by Dombey, the former now owned by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, were requested by Jefferson because the current British system was considered completely unreasonable.
First, when the United Kingdom settled in the Americas, it brought with it an uneven version of weights, measures, and coins. To make things even more confusing, individual settlements adopted their own local weights and measures. For example, beginning in 1700, Pennsylvania took control of its own measures, and other areas soon followed.
Dombey sailed from the port of Le Havre in April 1794 bound for Philadelphia. A storm diverted the ship’s course towards the Caribbean Sea where two ships, with not very good intentions, they surrounded the frigate of Dombey. He tried to camouflage himself by exchanging his clothes for a sailor’s outfit, but it didn’t work.
The pirates took Dombey prisoner, transferred him to the island of Montserrat to demand a ransom for him and they auctioned off all the loot from the ship, including the two pieces of copper: ruler and weight with standard meter and kilogram standards, intended for the United States to adopt the metric system, which never happened.
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