This 1879 Supreme Court decision (98 U.S. 428-429, 25 L. Ed. 251) is often cited as defining the vara, but the decision is in error. The Court was called upon to decide the value of the vara in a survey of land conducted on January 14, 1796 in what is now the State of Louisiana (then part of Texas). It settled on 33¹⁄₃ inches, based on information regarding the Texas vara at dates no earlier than 1830. There can be little doubt that this was neither the actual nor legal value of the vara in Louisiana in 1796.
Back to vara.