The History of Daylight Savings Time

Posted on March 01, 2015 by Matt Butler

The History of Daylight Savings Time

The History of Daylight Savings Time

It is almost that time again where we lose a precious hour of our time for Daylight Savings. But this is the price we pay that have so that we may more well lit evenings. Though the practice has been met with criticism, it does benefit retail stores, sporting events and other activities where extra sunlight after the work day is helpful.

Mad that you lost an hour of extra sleep time? You can blame Ben Franklin for that. He is the one credited for thinking up daylight savings. He is also credit saying, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In a letter to Paris to the Journal of Paris in 1784 he suggested that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier so that they could use the morning sunlight. In this satire, not only did he propose rationing candles and taxing shutters but he also suggested that the general public should be waked up by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. For obvious reasons, many were not down with this idea.

It was William Willett, an Englishman who loved his early morning horseback rides and couldn’t understand why people wanted to sleep in even after the sun was out, to bring the concept of daylight savings up again. He pushed the benefits of longer sunlight hours in the evenings. He thought the idea of pushing the clock forward during the summer months. He proposed this time and time again to Parliament till his death but all times were rejected.

Ultimately it was wartime that got the ball on daylight savings really rolling. In World War I, Germany put itself in daylight savings as a way to save energy in the war effort. Britain followed soon after. Two years later, the United States instituted daylight savings as well. After the war, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to keep daylight savings, but because most of the US was rural at this point, farmers hated the time change and wanted to go back because their jobs were so dependent on the sun. So this proposal did not pass.

It was instituted again in World War II and because most of America had been industrialized, many towns kept it while others did not after the war ended. This created chaos. A simple ride from West Virginia to Ohio could take riders through no less than seven different time changes as the passed through several towns. It was especially difficult for workers who commuted from one city to another. In 1966, Congress officially passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which stated that if the state decided to comply with delight savings than the whole state had to comply. No town could opt out. It was also resolute that Congress would determine the length of daylight savings time.

Thus began, a more formal daylight savings time that everyone now follows today.


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