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Portrait of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall
Photo of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres
Test of Platinum-Iridium  |  National Prototype Meter No. 27

Prototype Kilogram 20, replica  |  Drawing of Bell Jar for Kilogram
Certificate with Prototype Meter 12

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On April 5, 1893, Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, then Superintendent of Weights and Measures, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, decided that the International Meter and Kilogram would in the future be regarded as the fundamental standards of length and mass in the United States, both for metric and customary weights and measures.

This decision, which has come to be known as "The Mendenhall Order," was first published as Bulletin No. 26 of the Coast and Geodetic Survey under the title Fundamental Standards of Length and Mass.

The Mendenhall Order initiated a departure from the previous policy of attempting to maintain our standards of length and mass to be identical with those of Great Britain.

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Portrait of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall Photo of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sevres Test of Platinum-Iridium National Prototype Meter No. 27 Prototype Kilogram 20, replica Drawing of Bell Jar for Kilogram Certificate with Prototype Meter 12