Daylight Saving Time 2015 - History and Importance

Benjamin Franklin - Electricity and Light

Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky c. 1816
Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky c. 1816 | Source

History and Operation of Daylight Saving Time in America

The Beginning in the New Nation: 1784 - The Paris Connection

Daylight Saving Time was conceived by Benjamin Franklin during his time as an American delegate in Paris in 1784, in his essay, "An Economical Project." Some of Franklin's French friends had invented a new kind of oil lamp and they continued to correspond with him even after he returned to America. Franklin's essay stated that, given 100,000 Parisian families burn half a pound of candles an hour for an average of seven hours per day (the average time for the summer months between dusk and the supposed bedtime of late-rising Parisians) that:

"183 nights between 20 March and 20 September times 7 hours per night of candle usage equals 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage. Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight. Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64,050,000 pounds. At a price of thirty sols per pounds of tallow and wax (two hundred sols make one livre tournois), the total sum comes to 96,075,000 livre tournois. An immense sum that the city of Paris might save every year." Thus, Daylight Saving Time, likely half in jest, was proposed in order to save candle energy.

Daylight Saving Time: Only the government would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.

— Native American Proverb

In 1883 - The American Railroad Connection

Time zones were first used by the railroad systems in 1883 to standardize train schedules. According to the The Canadian Encyclopedia Plus by McClelland & Stewart Inc., Canada's "Sir Sandford Fleming played a key role in the development of a worldwide system of keeping time. Trains had caused the system in which major regional cities set their clocks according to local astronomical conditions obsolete.

Fleming promoted a standard time and hourly zone variations from a primary location. He was instrumental in convening an International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington in 1884 at which the system of international standard time we have today was established. The Prime Meridian in the UK has existed since 1884.

French Drawing of a Railroad Yard in 1912

Source
American legislation passed in 1918.
American legislation passed in 1918. | Source

From 1907 to 1916 - The London Connection

Daylight Saving Time was promoted later by a London builder named William Willett (1857-1915) in his pamphlet, Waste of Daylight in 1907. He proposed advancing all clocks 20 minutes on each of four different Sundays in April, and slowing them by 20 minutes on four Sundays in September. While on an early morning a ride through Petts Wood, near Croydon, Willett had noticed that the blinds of the houses were all closed, even though the sun was up. He felt people should be up as well. In his pamphlet he wrote:

"Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used."

Willett's became British Summer Time by a 1916 Act of Parliament. Clocks were set one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during the summer months. England changed their clocks to save energy to help fuel World War I.

It seems very strange ... that in the course of the world's history so obvious an improvement should never have been adopted. ... The next generation of Britishers would be the better for having had this extra hour of daylight in their childhood.

— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In 1918 - The American Rail Zone Connection

In 1918, Congress made US rail zones official under federal law and gave the authority for all changes to the Interstate Commerce Commission. When Congress created the Department of Transportation in 1966, it transferred that responsibility for the time laws to the DOT.

Railroad Time System, 1883

Source

1966 - 2015: The Uniform Time Act

The Daylight Saving Time law in the USA is the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

This DST law does not require that anyone observe Daylight Saving Time; but it does say that if we are going to observe Daylight Saving Time, it must be done uniformly across the nation.

In 1918, in order to conserve resources for WWI, Congress placed the country on DST during seven months from 1918 - 1919. The DST law was fully unpopular among Americans in 1918 and was repealed.

In WWII, the US Congress reinstated DST without a law at all on February 9, 1942. On that magic February day, clocks were set ahead one hour in order to save energy all year long eery year until September 30, 1945.

The US States and cities were independently free, however, to ignore DST fro 1942 - 1945, causing of transportation and media broadcasting confusion, the impact on work, etc. During this time, Columbus, Ohio had a time zone running down the center of the city temporarily. People were very confused, especially if they lived in a different zone from that in which they worked.

In England, the energy saving aspects of Daylight Saving were recognized again during WWII. Clocks were changed two hours ahead of GMT during the summer, which became known as Double Summer Time and remained one hour ahead of GMT though the winter.

By 1966, 100 million+ Americans observed DST locally.

Congress established a nationwide DST pattern with the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S. Code Section 260a), starting the last Sunday of April and ending the last Sunday of October. Any area wishing to be exempt from DST could pass a local ordinance.

In the mid-1970s the Department of Transportation found that DST saves energy, saves lives, prevents traffic injuries, and prevents crime by providing more daylight hours.

A 1986 Amendment [President Reagan, Public Law 99-359] changed DST to begin earlier in the year, on the first Sunday in April.

In 2007, DST began earlier still, on March 11.

Thus, there have been changes over the year. However, there are still complaints. Some Americans want to keep DST year-round and some others want to do away with it. For now, DST begins on the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November in most, but not all of, the USA.

Additional Date Changes for DST: 2015 Cycle

Location
Beginning
Ending
American DST Cycle
March 8 at 2:00 AM
November 1 at 2:00 AM
 
 
 
European DST Cycle
March 29 at 1:00 AM GMT
Oct. 25 at 1:00 AM GMT
 
 
 
Data taken from Ohio.gov Department of Statistics

American Time Zones

Source

© 2007 Patty Inglish

More by this Author


Comments 45 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Incidentally, some of my ancestors worked their way west with the railroads, all the way to California from the UK, then the east coast of the US in the late 1700s and early 1800s. I wonder what they thought about Daylight Saving Time? While it is often said that DST was developed to allow for longer work hours on US farms, some believe that it was developed to create longer working hours for everyone - dawn to dusk and then some. There are many interesting and conflicting opinions.  


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

Wow! That's amazing. When I requested this Hub I never thought that it went back a long time! This is really a great Hub. Very informative and interesting too. Thank you so much for the answer Patty. All the best to you. I really enjoyed reading this.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thanks SunSeven! It was a fun Hub to do. Many blessings to you!


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

Hi Patty, In the other answer to this request livelonger left a link which I found interesting. I thought I will share it with you here. http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/g.html According to this site "While twins born at 11:55 p.m. and 12:05 a.m. may have different birthdays, Daylight Saving Time can change birth order -- on paper, anyway. During the time change in the fall, one baby could be born at 1:55 a.m. and the sibling born ten minutes later, at 1:05 a.m. In the spring, there is a gap when no babies are born at all: from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m."


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

That's very interesting and intriguing. Much of time seems to be a man-made quantity, doesn't it?


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

Apparently! I can imagine the chaos when people are not aware of these time changes where it is in practice. Like people missing trains, appointments, etc. There was an interesting(?!) incident in Israel when a time bomb went off and killed the terrorists themselves instead of the intended targets(two busloads of people). It happened because these terrorists were not aware of the time changes that took place.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

How ironic! I don't like anyone (target or terrorist) to die in these bombings, but one thought that came to me was that the plan surely backfired, did it not? Amazing. it is always best not to blow anyone up.


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

I totally agree with you Patty. Perhaps people should practice more of non-violence in achieving their goals, like Mahatma Gandhi did.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Yes, non-violence and some persistence to change things from bad to good.


SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

I thought I will share this with you. Recently I came across an article about a newspaper announcing a Daylight Saving Time contest to see who could save the most daylight. Which is in fact true! You can read about the whole story here http://www.snopes.com/humor/iftrue/daylight.asp

Best Regards


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thank you so much for this interesting article SunSeven!


gamergirl profile image

gamergirl 9 years ago from Antioch, TN

Very interesting hub, thanks for going so in-depth!


Gene Kottke 8 years ago

I purpose that this spring we set our clocks only 30 min ahead and then NEVER change them again.That way both the pros and cons get 50% of what they want and that ain't bad in this old world today. Gene


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

That night work - I don't really want to be chaning clocks trwice a year.


linjingjing profile image

linjingjing 7 years ago

Daylight_Saving_Time

This article is very helpful to me


phil 6 years ago

personally i miss the older time changes.april/oct.the usa seems to always be squeezing this or that.give me a break for christsake....let some things just be.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Yes, perhaps Christ would also like it if we let time alone.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

Congrats on HOTD It is funny that I am seeing this. A week or so ago I wrote a small humorous article about daylight savings time. As I prepared for it I read about Benjamin Franklin and the other interesting tidbits associated with time change. I learned much I did not know.

thanks for sharing this. Angels are on the way ps


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

@pstraubie - Thanks a million for reading my Hub and sending congratulations! It was fun to write and it brought back some memories -- When I visited Mackinac Island in Michigan one August, daylight lasted there until 10:30 PM. On the longest day of the year in June, it must have been sunny at nearly 11:00PM.

It's convenient to have clocks that self-set to DST and back again! I have one clock I'm trying to figure out right now!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 3 years ago from USA

Congratulations on your Hub of the Day! It was an interesting lesson about the time change. I think it was designed by crabby people who like to decide what time other people wake up - the earlier the better. That is funny that Columbus, Ohio was split in half - that's where I live! I would prefer no change at all, but slower gradual changes like the 20 minute idea sounds good to me! The earlier and earlier they change it, the darker it is in the morning.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 3 years ago from Taos, NM

Very interesting and informative. As I was turning my clocks back this morning I was moaning about why do we even have DST. LOL I turned on the computer and here's the answer. How cool is that? Thanks for this wonderful hub as I didn't know why we still have it today. Your tables are very helpful for the future too. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

@Millionaire Tips - You're right about dark mornings and I think more street lamps are needed. I think I'd like more lights at both ends of the day - more natural light a lower utility bills. lol

@suzettenaples - Looks like we're almost to the end of the table and more years need to be added. Thanks for reading and commenting!


davelyoung1 profile image

davelyoung1 3 years ago from Somewhere in America presently Austin TX

Old Ben and Big Ben of time, how they have evolved in time, interesting piece. Ben Franklin was so inspirational to America is so many ways. So, when people point a resemblance to Ben in this poet, it makes me proud to look like Ole Ben and not like Dick Cheney.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Thank you for your interesting comment!


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

Congrats on earning HOTD! This is a great topic to learn about. I never realized that it went back and forth so many times. It would be awkward for some places to observe it, and for some places not to!

Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a great day!

~ Kathryn


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

@Kathryn Stratford - Thanks for your comments. I'd like more hours of daylight, but not the six months worth at the N. pole.


J.S.Matthew profile image

J.S.Matthew 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Wow Patty! As usual, a very informative article. (You never fail us!) Congratulations on the Hub of the Day (6 years later! Awesome!) Very informative and I will have to bookmark for when Jeopardy comes on or someone asks me about this. Voted and shared...

JSMatthew~


davelyoung1 profile image

davelyoung1 3 years ago from Somewhere in America presently Austin TX

Patty Congratulations on your award that is well deserved and such an honor. May your writing and musings be blessed at any time within respect and adulation that your vocal voice and word characters always radiate into your audience.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Congratulations on HOTD! Certainly an interesting hub and one so many people have had questions about. I didn't realize it was as recent as 1966 that DST was finally established. I wonder if more changes will be made in the future? Thank you for all your diligent research.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

@J.S. Matthews - Patience is rewarded in this case, after 6 years. Really, I was surprised when I logged on this morning and saw the HOTD. I hope you win something on Jeopardy!

@davelyoung1 - Thanks for your congratulations! That always is a motivator. :)

@tillsontitan - I bet that more changes will happen with DST, I just don't know what changes they will be. Nothing too drastic, I hope. Thanks for posting a comment!


davelyoung1 profile image

davelyoung1 3 years ago from Somewhere in America presently Austin TX

You will find it ironic that I am also franklindoppelganger.com for my quotes, but it needs development. As Ole Ben, I have some Big Ben jokes and quotes but I will not go there, and leave your imagination grow. Anyway Blessing and Salutation, may you always create masterpiece pieces in timework. A Masterpiece Timework poem is there, I am a poetry addict.


rcorcutt 3 years ago

Cool article. I never knew any of those things. They never taught this in school or I wasn't paying attention. You kept my attention though .Thanks.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

I'm glad you likes the Hub, rcorcutt!


Tom Schumacher profile image

Tom Schumacher 3 years ago from Huntington Beach, CA

Congrats on the hub of the day! Learning about DST was a fun historical read. I for one, however, feel DST should be eliminated altogether. After all, it is the 21st century and the majority of concerns cited in favor of DST are no longer applicable. Vote up!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for the information and another interesting comment!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for your views,Tom!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Wow, this hub has been around for six years!! Your hubs are always so informative and so worthy as Hubs of the Day. Congrats on this one!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

@Victoria Lynn - Thank you for your kind words! I feel fortunate to have found HubPages almost seven years ago; it's helped a lot with my writing and research skills development.


JPB0756 profile image

JPB0756 3 years ago

Six years trumped my comment, also!! Fine info on a fact we all are curious about and surely share; nice work!


Better Yourself profile image

Better Yourself 3 years ago from North Carolina

Who knew! I didn't realize there was so much history in Daylight Savings. Great hub, very interesting and Congrats on HOTD!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

And I suspect that the rules will change again! Thanks for your comments, Better Yourself!


shahkar-khan profile image

shahkar-khan 3 years ago

This shows that no matter how benign ones concepts are, if they are effective, they shall be adopted worldwide. But i wish it is re-implemented in my country. Good hub.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 21 months ago from North America Author

Don't forget Daylight Saving Time 2015 -- March 8 at 2:00 AM to November 1 at 2:00 AM.


Stargrrl 21 months ago

Interesting hub. I didn't realize there was so much behind Daily Savings Time. Nice to learn!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 21 months ago from North America Author

I think it became pretty complicated and just wish we had more hours of daylight around the year!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working