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Measuring America : how an untamed wilderness shaped the United States and fulfilled the promise of democracy

Author: Andro Linklater
Publisher: Princeton, N.J. : Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, 2003.
Edition/Format:   Audiobook on CD : CD audio : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The most urgent problem facing the newly independent United States was how to pay for the war that won the country its freedom; America's debt was enormous. The nation's greatest asset was the land west of the Ohio River, but in order to sell this huge territory, it first had to be surveyed - that is, measured out and mapped. And before that could be done, a uniform set of measurements had to be chosen for the new  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Surveys
Material Type: Audio book, etc.
Document Type: Sound Recording
All Authors / Contributors: Andro Linklater
OCLC Number: 51945516
Notes: Originally published: New York : Walker & Company, c2002.
Description: 1 sound disc : digital, mono. ; 4 3/4 in.
Contents: Invention of landed property --
Precise confusion --
Who owned America? --
Life, liberty, or what? --
Simple arithmetic --
Line drawn in the wilderness --
French dimension --
Democratic decimals --
Birth of the metric system --
Dombey's luck --
End of Putnam --
Immaculate grid --
Shape of cities --
Hassler's passion --
Dispossessed --
Limit of enclosure --
Four against ten --
Metric triumphant --
Witness tree --
Appendix: General tables of units of measurement.
Responsibility: Andro Linklater.

Abstract:

The most urgent problem facing the newly independent United States was how to pay for the war that won the country its freedom; America's debt was enormous. The nation's greatest asset was the land west of the Ohio River, but in order to sell this huge territory, it first had to be surveyed - that is, measured out and mapped. And before that could be done, a uniform set of measurements had to be chosen for the new republic out of the morass of roughly 100,000 different units that were in use in daily life." "Indeed, in his first presidential address to Congress, in January 1790, George Washington put the establishment of a single system of weights and measures immediately after a national defense and a currency as the country's most urgent priority. [This book] tells the fascinating story of how this unique system was achieved and how it has profoundly shaped our country and culture over more than two centuries." How we ultimately gained the American Customary System - the last traditional system in the world - and how Gunter's chain indelibly imprinted its dimensions on the land, on cities, and on our culture from coast to coast, is both an exciting human and intellectual drama and one of the great untold stories in American history. [The book] reveals the colossal power contained inside the acres and miles, ounces and pounds that we use every day without ever realizing their significance. In the process, it offers readers an opportunity to see our democracy in a brilliant new light.-Dust jacket.

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