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Virginian System of Measurements (Federalist Failure)

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The Virginian System of Measurements was established by Thomas Jefferson. He had hoped to get them adopted as a pan-American system, but only Virginia adopted it.

Length

The basic unit of length in the Virginian system is the foot, initially defined as one-third the length of a pendulum whose half-period is 1 second (33.12 cm or 13.04 old inches), but subsequently changed to 1/3 meter

  • Point = 1/1000 foot (333.3 µm, 13.12 mills)
  • Line = 1/100 foot (3.333 mm, .1312 inches)
  • Inch = 1/10 foot (3.333 cm, 1.312 inches)
  • Foot (Base) (33.33 cm, 13.12 inches)
  • Decade = 10 feet (3.333 m, 10.94 feet)
  • Rood = 10 decades (33.33 m, 109.4 feet)
  • Furlong = 10 rood (333.3 m, 1094 feet)
  • Mile = 10 furlongs (3.333 km, 2.072 miles)

Volume

  • Metre = 1/1000 Bushel = 1 inch³ (37.04 ml, 1.252 oz)
  • Demi-pint = 1/100 Bushel (370.4 ml, 12.52 oz) - usually just called pints today
  • Gallon = 1/10 Bushel (3.704 l, 3.914 qt)
  • Bushel = 1 foot³ (37.04 l, 9.784 gal)
  • Quarter = 10 bushesl (363.4 l, 95.98 gal)
  • Last = 10 quarters (3634 l, 959.8 gal)

Mass

  • Mite = 1/10,000 ounce (3.704 mg, .05716 grains)
  • Minim, demi-grain = 1/1000 ounce (37.04 mg, .5716 grains) - "minim" more common today
  • Carat = 1/100 ounce (370.4 mg, 5.716 grains)
  • Double-scruple = 1/10 ounce (3.704 g, 57.16 grains) - generally called "scruple" today
  • Ounce (base) = 1/1000 the weight of 1 bushel of water (37.04 g, 1.306 oz)
  • Pound = 10 ounces (370.4 g, 13.06 oz)
  • Stone = 10 pounds (3.704 kg, 8.165 lb)
  • Kental = 10 stones (37.04 kg, 81.65 lb)
  • Hogshead = 10 stones (370.4 kg, 816.5 lb)
    • Ton = 2½ hogsheads (926 kg, 2041 lb) - not an official unit, but still common

Modern Additions

Temperature

The Virginian system uses the same temperature scale as the Metric, i.e., Celsius for everyday use, Kelvin for scientific use

Additional terms

Increasing preciseness of instruments required the creation of new terms for very small units. In the mid-20th century, the Virginian Council of Scientists voted to reject the additional terms, and instead adopt the Metric prefixes. The prefixes are only added to terms that didn't exist in the original system. Thus, "millifoot" would not occur, as "point" already exists for 1/1000 foot, but "microfoot" is used, as 1/1,000,000 foot did not exist in the original system. These terms are given for historical significance

  • Length
    • Dot = 1/10 speck (333.3 nm, .01312 mills)
    • Speck = 1/10 mill (3.333 µm, .1312 mills)
    • Mill = 1/10 point (33.33 µm, 1.312 mills)
  • Volume
    • (Below droplet, simple cubic measurements are used, e.g., "cubic line")
    • Droplet = 1/10 drop (370.4 µl, .01252 oz)
    • Drop = 1/10 metre (3.704 ml, .1252 oz)

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