Sunday, November 3, 2013

Establishing Time Zones


The idea of saving daylight was the brainchild of the father of a lot of our country's bright ideas - Benjamin Franklin, according to Heidi G. Yacker, of the Congressional Research Service Library, although the idea was not adapted at the time of his suggestion. In fact, it made a lot of Frenchmen very angry.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is not a new concept. In 1784, when Benjamin Franklin was Minister to France, an idea occurred to him: in that part of the year when the sun rises while most people are still asleep, clocks could be reset to allow an extra hour of daylight during waking hours. He calculated that French shopkeepers could save one million francs per year on candles. In 1907, William Willett, a British builder, Member of Parliament, and fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, proposed the adoption of advanced time. The bill he introduced was reported favorably, asserting that DST would move hours of work and recreation more closely to daylight hours, reducing expenditures on artificial light. There was much opposition, however, and the idea was not adopted.
During World War I, in an effort to conserve fuel, Germany began observing DST on May 1, 1916. As the war progressed, the rest of Europe adopted DST. The plan was not formally adopted in the United States until 1918. 'An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States' was enacted on March 19, 1918 (40 Stat 450). It both established standard time zones and set summer DST to begin on March 31, 1918. The idea was unpopular, however, and Congress abolished DST after the war, overriding President Wilson's veto. DST became a local option and was observed in some states until World War II, when President Roosevelt instituted year-round DST, called 'War Time,' on February 9, 1942. It lasted until the last Sunday in September 1945. The next year, many states and localities adopted summer DST.

When Benjamin Franklin was Minister to France, he half-jokingly postulated that clocks in France should be reset to allow an extra hour of daylight during waking hours. He calculated in a 1784 letter to the Journal of Paris that French shopkeepers could save one million francs a year on candles. He also liked the idea on a personal level, as he lost a lot of daylight by sleeping so late.


When Congress decided to establish time zones at the behest of the U.S. and Canadian railroads in 1918, with the Standard Time Act, it established daylight saving time at the same time. Public protest of the idea led to repeal of daylight saving time a year later, and instituting daylight time was left up to municipalities, according to Yacker. But when WWII came along, it was re-established nationally to save fuel costs for the war effort, (Mountain Daylight Time was officially referred to as Mountain War Time, according to www.timeanddate.com) and was continuously observed through September,1945.

After WWII, its use varied among states and localities. Congress put an end to that with The Uniform Time Act of 1966, but allowed for local exemptions from its observance in April and October.  To this day, in fact Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, parts of Arizona, and most recently, part of Indiana, are exempt. Arizona, which straddles two time zones, has a climate that favors the evening for sports and other activities. And farmers in Indiana were concerned about lost planting time. They also cited University of California research that would cost Hoosiers much in increased electricity bills, from higher energy costs, as well as increased pollution emissions.

During the energy crisis of the early to mid-seventies, Congress enacted earlier starting dates for daylight time, just as Benjamin Franklin would have appreciated. Congress has tinkered with those dates until The Energy Policy Act of 2005, changing to our present day March and November changeovers.


Currently, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is observed in the United States from 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in April until 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. The following states and territories do not observe DST: Arizona, Hawaii, part of Indiana, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

It's Scientifically Proven: Night Owls Are Smarter
The idea of saving daylight was the brainchild of the father of a lot of our country's bright ideas - Benjamin Franklin, according to Heidi G. Yacker, of the Congressional Research Service Library, although the idea was not adapted at the time of his suggestion. In fact, it made a lot of Frenchmen very angry.

When Benjamin Franklin was Minister to France, he half-jokingly postulated that clocks in France should be reset to allow an extra hour of daylight during waking hours. He calculated in a 1784 letter to the Journal of Paris that French shopkeepers could save one million francs a year on candles. He also liked the idea on a personal level, as he lost a lot of daylight by sleeping so late.


When Congress decided to establish time zones at the behest of the U.S. and Canadian railroads in 1918, with the Standard Time Act, it established daylight saving time at the same time. Public protest of the idea led to repeal of daylight saving time a year later, and instituting daylight time was left up to municipalities, according to Yacker. But when WWII came along, it was re-established nationally to save fuel costs for the war effort, (Mountain Daylight Time was officially referred to as Mountain War Time, according to www.timeanddate.com) and was continuously observed through September,1945.

After WWII, its use varied among states and localities. Congress put an end to that with The Uniform Time Act of 1966, but allowed for local exemptions from its observance in April and October.  To this day, in fact Hawaii, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, parts of Arizona, and most recently, part of Indiana, are exempt. Arizona, which straddles two time zones, has a climate that favors the evening for sports and other activities. And farmers in Indiana were concerned about lost planting time. They also cited University of California research that would cost Hoosiers much in increased electricity bills, from higher energy costs, as well as increased pollution emissions.

During the energy crisis of the early to mid-seventies, Congress enacted earlier starting dates for daylight time, just as Benjamin Franklin would have appreciated. Congress has tinkered with those dates until The Energy Policy Act of 2005, changing to our present day March and November changeovers.

It's Scientifically Proven: Night Owls Are Smarter

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