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Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale
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Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale

 1800  On virtual loan from the White House Historical Association
In 1790, President Washington ordered his Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, to propose a plan to Congress for the standardization of weights and measures. After just 4 months, Jefferson presented two alternative plans. His first proposal would have adopted the still then unofficial Imperial or "Parliamentary" standards of Great Britain with a few modifications. Jefferson's second proposal was for a decimal system, similar to the metric system but defining units differently and using the official British nomenclature. Congress rejected both plans.