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New Orleans, September 15th, 1817. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th of July last, together with the resolve of the Senate of the United States, and to enclose you herein the true copy of an act passed in 1815, by which you will perceive that the legislature of this state have deemed most proper to adopt the same standards for weights and measures as established in the United States, and used by their revenue officers.
With sentiments of very great respect,
Governor of the state of Louisiana. The Hon. RICHARD Rush.
An act to establish an uniform standard of weights and measures with
in this state.
Whereas it is essential to the commerce of the state of Louisiana, that an uniform standard of weights and measures be established by law; therefore,
Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the state of Louisiana in general assembly convened, That the governor, at the expense of the state, shall procure one complete set of copper weights, to correspond with weights of their like denomination, used by the revenue officers of the United States in their offices, together with scales for said weights, and a stamp or seal, with such device as the governor may choose; as also one complete set of measures, calculated for dry, liquid, and long measure, of the same capacity and length as those of their like denomination used by revenue officers as aforesaid ; which set of weights and measures, together with the scales and stamp, to be deposited in the custody of the secretary of state, to serve as a general standard of weights and measures within this state.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the administration and distribution of weights and measures within the limits of the city of New Orleans, shall be confided to an inspector of weights and measures, to be nominated by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate; and it shall be the duty of the said inspector to see that no other weights but those established by this act be made use of within the limits of the said city, and in case of negligence, or breach on the part of the said inspector, he shall be condemned to pay a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars, nor less than one hundred; the mayor and city council of New Orleans shall be authorized to pass any regulations, or such ordinances relative to the police of the said weights and measures, and to insure, within the limits of the said city, the execution of the present act; provided, however, that said ordinances or regulations do not contravene the provisions of this act, and that, should the office of inspector become vacant during the recess of the legislature, it shall be the duty of the governor to fill such vacancy.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That every parish judge shall procure, at the expense of his parish, a set of weights and measures, and a stamp, conformable to those mentioned in the first section of this act, the same to be stamped, on their request, by the secretary of state, or his deputy ;—the inspector of the city of Orleans shall procure the above set at the expense of the corporation of the said city.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the aforesaid weights, mea. sures, and stamp, shall be deposited by the judge in the office of the clerk of the said parish on his accountable receipt, and it shall be the duty of the said clerk and inspector, when thereto required by any person, to stamp all measures whatsoever, if they find them true; and they shall be entitled to ask and demand for such service the following fees, and no more, viz: For every steelyard, with certificate thereof, twenty-five cents; for every measure that they shall try or stamp, six cents and a quarter, to be paid by the owners of the weights and measures by them stamped, over and above the price of the labor, and materials they may employ on such measures as require to be regulated by the standard ; provided always, that the stamp shall be impressed and payment required for doing the same, only on such as have not yet been stamped, or such as having been once stamped, are found so defective as to require to be again regu. lated with the standard. Be it understood, however, that during the first year ensuing the day when this act shall begin to be in force, the said inspector shall only be entitled to half the fees established by the present section, and in case of resignation, removal, or death of the inspector, or clerks, the said weights, measures, steelyards, and stamps, shall be delivered to the person or persons named in their places.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That if any clerk, inspector, or any person legally authorized to stamp weights and measures, shall knowingly and wilfully stamp weights and measures which do not correspond with the standard aforesaid, they shall, on conviction, be condemned to pay a fine of one hundred dollars for each offence, to be recovered on motion by the attorney general, or district attorney, before any court of competent jurisdiction, to the benefit of the parish in which the said offender may reside; and any person thus convicted shall besides be removed from office : the court, during the prosecution against the said clerks, shall be authorized to appoint a clerk pro tem.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That one year after the governor shall have deposited such weights, measures, and steelyards, with the
secretary of state, as required by this act, no person shall buy or sell any commodity whatsoever by weights or measures, which do not exactly correspond with the aforesaid standard, or are not stamped ; nor shall they keep any such weights or measures for the purpose of buying or selling thereby, under penalty of a fine of fifty dollars for each offence, besides the forfeitures of the weights, measures, and steelyards, found to be false, and of a fine of ten dollars, when the measures, weights, and steelyards, shall be found just, though not stamped; said fines to be recovered before any tribunal of competent jurisdiction, one half to the benefit of the informer, and the other half to the parish in which the said offender may reside. All weights and measures seized shall be forfeited for the benefit of the stamper, who shall have discovered the fraud, and he shall not return them into circulation until he has made them conformable to the standard.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That whoever shall make, or cause to be made use of, or utter false stamps or scales, shall, on conviction before the district court where this offence is committed, be subject to all the pains and penalties of forgery under the law of this state.
SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That it is forbidden to any person to sell, or cause to be sold, measures and weights, unless they have been tried and stamped by persons appointed for that purpose, agreeably to the present act, under the penalties imposed by the sixth section of this act, against all persons who shall have used false weights.
SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That the persons to be appointed agreeably to the present act to try and stamp the weights, measures, &c. shall not commit their functions to a substitute, without being liable to all fines prescribed by this act.
Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That any provision in this act contained to the contrary notwithstanding, there shall be in this state a dry measure to be known under the name of barrel, which shall contain three and a quarter bushels, conformable to the American standard, and shall be divided in half and a quarter barrel.
Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the governor, so soon as he shall have procured the weights and measures agreeably to this act, to make it known throughout the state by proclamation.
MAGLOIRE GUICHARD, Speaker of the House of Representatives. FULWAR SKIPWITH,
President of the Senate. Approved, Dec. 21st, 1814:
WILLIAM C. C. CLAIBORNE,
Governor of the state of Louisiana. A true copy from the original in my office.
MAZUREAU, Secretary of State.
Statement of M. Bouchon, respecting weights and measures in Louisiana
before its cession to the United States. 1st. The measures in use in Louisiana, before its cession to the United States, were the following:
Measures of Length.
Measures of Capacity for Liquids.
Measures for Grain.
Measures for Fire Wood. The cord of 4 feet height, 8 feet length, and the billets of wood 4 fect long.
2d. These measures are all of French origin. The lineal arpent, the league of 84 arpens, and the square arpent, are the particular measures of Louisiana. This is certain.
sd. The measures of length, of superficies, and of firewood, are still in general use in the state of Louisiana. They begin to measure firewood by the American foot, because it is to the advantage of the seller. For the same reason, the use of the pound has been so easily adopted. I know of no other measure of capacity, except the American gallon. Several persons who speculate in town lots buy by the French foot and sometimes sell by the American foot. They sometimes yet use the French ell, but its use in commerce is insensibly losing ground.
4th. The surveyor's chain of 22 yards contains 10 fathoms, 1 foot. 10.896 inches; 100 French fathoms contain 9.6916515 chains; thé lineal arpent extends 63.9654 yards; the league of Louisiana, 244.2296 American chains; an acre is equal to 1.1829 superficial arpents of Louisiana; a square mile is equal to 756.1424 square arpens. One may calculate in general that the French foot is to the American as 16 is to 15. A square arpent is equal to 4,091.5724 square yards.
5th. It does not appear that the Spanish weights and measures have ever been used.
6th. The new superficial measures are very seldom used: the French and Spanish population will find it difficult to make use of them, as well as of the lineal measures.
Yth. Neither Mr. Pilié, city surveyor, nor myself, know of any police law relative to weights or measures; and, although I have had an opportunity of reading a great deal, I have never fallen in with one of that nature. We know not of any French or Spanish standard in this country. The French and Spanish records of surveys (procés verbaux) are reported entirely according to the measures of Paris.
8th. The ancient inhabitants are well enough satisfied with the American weights, but all, and especially those in the country, find it very difficult to accustom themselves to the measures of length, and the superficial measures ; and I think they will be long in doing so. This depends upon long contracted habits, and they cannot change these habits all at once. One must have gained great facility in calculation to be able to comprehend new superficial measures, at all times more difficult than measures of length or weights, especially when he sees no advantage to be derived from them.
The reports which I have presented of the ancient and new measures will be sufficient data for an accomptant to find out those others which I bave not time to point out. Mr. Pilié and myself are very much pressed by business at present, and we beg Mr. Johnson to excuse us for not having done more, and in shorter time.
I beg him to be assured of the perfect consideration with which I am, &c.
BOUCHON, Surveyor General of the state of Louisiang. New Orleans, 9th October, 1820.