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the interest of justice, has accepted and accepts the principles of arbitration as a means of solving international conflicts in cases where diplomatic intervention may prove fruitless. Though it is true that the praiseworthy efforts so far made have not succeeded in establishing a system satisfactory to all nations, for the promotion of harmony and a peaceful settlement of disputes, yet a great deal towards the attainment of this end has been accomplished in securing a general concurrence in the view that this just expedient is inapplicable only in that comparatively limited class of cases in which the independence, sovereignty, or existence of a nation is at stake.
I have the most sanguine hopes that the effort this Conference will make to solve this problem, if not crowned with absolute success, will at least be made memorable by an earnest declaration, to be faithfully adhered to, that the American nations, which do not aspire to conquest or interference in the affairs of sister countries, sovereign and independent, will not resort to war without having first exhausted all conciliatory means to preserve international peace.
Before closing, Mr Chairman, and while thanking the honorable Conference for its kindness in listening to me, and apologizing for my inconsiderate abuse of its time, I beg to express once more my sincerest wishes for the, welfare of the nations here represented and of their worthy Delegates.
Mr. Saenz Peña, a Delegate from the Argentine Republic, made the following statement:
That the speech in which the honorable Delegate, Mr. Nin, had taken leave of the Conference placed him under the necessity of making an explanation concerning two matters of fact.
First, in relation to the initiative of the South American Congress, which the honorable Delegate had attributed to his own country, Mr. Saenz Peña assured the Conference that it had originated in both
Governments of the Plata, and that if it was held in Montevideo it was by an act of courtesy of the Argentine Government. He referred to official documents, such as the protocols and the invitation addressed to the United States by both Legislatures, and added that the honorable Delegates could judge by them for themselves, because they had them in their possession, printed and distributed by the Argentine Government, as the originator of the project and the inviting Government.
That as for the treaties which the honorable Delegate also attributed to the representative of Uruguay, Mr. Saenz Peña said that Congress, in the same manner as this Conference, had appointed committees ad hoc, and that these had transacted their business in their own way and according to their own judgment.
Finally, Mr. SAENZ PEÑA requested that his protest against the assertions of the previous speaker be inserted in the minutes for the satisfaction of the Argentine Government and of the States which had answered its invitation.
Mr. HENDERSON, a Delegate from the United States, stated, in the name of his delegation, that Mr. Nin's departure was lamented by his colleagues, and concluded by suggesting that the honorable Delegate's speech be inserted in the minutes of the session.
Mr. HURTADO, a Delegate from Colombia, seconding Mr. Henderson's proposition, in the name of his delegation, joined in the sentiments expressed by the honorable Delegate from the United States.
By unanimous agreement it was decided that Mr. Nin's speech be included in the minutes of the session.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON WEIGHTS AND MEAS
[As submitted to the Conference, January 15, 1890.) To the honorable the International Conference:
The committee appointed by the honorable President to inquire into the advisability of the adoption, by all the nations here represented, of a uniform system of weights and measures, have the honor to submit the following report:
The need of establishing a unit of comparison for everything susceptible of being weighed or measured was doubtless recognized from the remotest antiquity; or, rather, from the time when, the right of ownership being acknowledged, the bartering or exchange of commodities became a definitely established practice.
History shows that this unit of comparison was generally some portion of the human body.
The Hebrews, as well as the Carthaginians, Phænicians, and Egyptians, had as their principal measure of length the foot.
Later the Greeks and Romans added to the number of their measures the finger, the thumb or inch, the palm, the fathom, the pace, the double-pace, etc., the names of which indicate the source whence they are derived.
These are the measures which, even after the lapse of centuries, have been in use in the greater number of civilized nations.
But as the human body varies so much in size, the measures adopted from it are necessarily arbitrary. At the present day even the learned are not agreed about the exact length of the Greek and Roman foot, being divided in their opinions among various estimates.
It is evident then that such a standard of measurement has not, and can not have, a constant and uniform basis even at a given period, and still less at different times, or with reference to different races at the same time.
Such considerations induced the Constituent Assembly of France, in the last decade of the eighteenth century, to adopt as the basis of a system a simple and invariable dimension susceptible of ascertainment at all times.
So by decree of May 8, 1790, upon the motion of Mr. Talleyrand, it was ordered that a commission, composed of French savants to be appointed by the Academy, should be charged with ascertaining the length of a simple pendulum which would mark a second at the level of the sea in latitude 45o. The same decree provided that the Government should request the King of England to appoint a committee from the Royal Society of London to co-operate with the French commission, with a view to establishing a common system of weights and measures, and recommending its use to the other nations.
The French delegates, nominated by the Academy, were Lagrange, Laplace, Monge, and Condorcet. The English Government declined to co-operate, assigning as a reason the political contentions then agitating France.
The French commission, departing from the original programme, which contemplated chiefly the determination of a pendulum vibrating seconds, considered the question whether it would not be better to take as a unit of length a fraction of the earth's meridian. This idea having been adopted, for fear that there would else be difficulty in securing for the new system the approval of those nations whose territory was not intersected by the 45°, the commission on the 17th of March, 1791, presented to the National Assembly a report in which it proposed to adopt as a fundamental unit the 16.000,000 of a quarter of the earth's meridian, and to give to this unit the name of meter. In accordance with these recommendations, Mechain and Delambre were charged with the delicate problem of measuring the arc of the meridian included between Dunkirk and Barcelona. Mechain and Delambre found the quarter of the meridian equal to 5,130,740 toises,
which result was adopted by the legislative body on the 4th Messidor of the year VII (June 22, 1799).
The same measure of length served also as a basis for establishing the unit of weight called a gram, adopted by the law of the 18th Germinal, Year III. This is the weight, in a vacuum, of a cubic centimeter of distilled water taken at its maximum density, which corresponds to the temperature of t° centigrade above zero.
The expressive nomenclature with its concise prefixes, the ascending and descending series of multiples and submultiples, and the facility with which it lends itself to decimal calculation, make this simple and admirable system the only one worthy of universal adoption by civil. ized nations.
In fact, in 1873 an international commission, known as “The (International] Metric Commission,” met in Paris, with a view to agreeing upon the adoption of a universal system of measures. England, Russia, Austria, Germany, Bavaria, Würtemberg, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, the United States, and several of the Spanish American Re blic were represented by distinguished scientific men. After careful deliberation they abandoned the idea which had been entertained, of a new measurement of the earth's meridian, recognizing the fact that such an undertaking would be attended with great difficulties, and could yield only uncertain results; and they agreed to adopt the French meter, the standard of which is preserved in the French archives. *
The same decision was taken with regard to the kilogramme as the unit of weights.
The commission also recommended certain necessary precautions for securing the accuracy of the standard meter according to the dimensions fixed upon.
Finally a convention for securing the international unification and perfection of the metric system was signed in Paris on the 20th of May, 1875, which convention was ratified by the Governments of the following nations:
* In the International Metric Bureau, which seventeen nations contribute to support and direct.