Well, I carried out my research, as promised last week, to see if I could find any general American history books at the library that referenced the metric system. I exhausted the section and was only able to find one reference. The other sections bore no direct relation (as in history of American wars, etc.).
I found the mention in the bound issues of American Heritage magazine shelved with the books. I would have totally missed it had not the librarian brought over the index that covered most of its years (The index was in the reference section, so it wasn’t shelved there). I had passed the metric item over because the piece wasn’t listed in the index. The item in question is on page 112 of the August/September 1979 issue but the index only goes up to the “Postscripts” section on page 110. Curious.
The one-page piece is called “Presidential Measures” and relays how various presidents felt about the metric system including correspondence from James Madison to James Monroe on the need to “establish universal standards” of measurement and that our third, fourth and fifth presidents would have been happy with the (then) current trend toward the metric system. I’m not sure the editorial feeling about the situation was as strong.
While there, I asked for an interlibrary-loaned copy of For Good Measure: The Making of Australia’s Measurement System. This was recommended to me by the Metric Maven (http://themetricmaven.com/) as apparently Australia has it’s metric act very much together. Only four copies were found at other libraries in the United States and since buying a copy through Amazon is $88, I opted to have them get me a copy that I will have to use within the library’s confines. (Thanks Mesa Public Library!)
The amount of material I have to read is staggering, to say the least, and I suppose I could rely on others for their expertise (and I will) but I feel it’s important that I have a really good grounding in the subject matter or how can I tell a compelling story that does the subject matter justice?