The History of Daylight Saving Time

Kaylee Evans, Reporter

Many people believe that Daylight Saving Time was created to give farmers more daylight during the season to tend to their crops and fields. Even though this is a liable reason for its creation, it is not correct.

Some like to give credit of Daylight Saving Time to Benjamin Franklin, who wrote in a 1784 essay about saving candles and saying, “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This sounds like the case in point, but he meant this as more of a satire than anything else. On May 1, 1916, during World War I, Germany, being the first, had adopted Daylight Saving Time as a structured way to conserve their fuel. Soon after this occurred, the rest of Europe followed. In 1917, Australia and Newfoundland began saving daylight as well. A year later on March 19, 1918, the United States had formally adopted this, too. It was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919. Though, after the war ended, the law proved it was unpopular due to the people waking up earlier and going to bed earlier than the average person today. Then, in 1919, it was repealed with a congressional override of President Wilson’s veto.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted a year-round daylight saving time, which was named “war time.” This pushed clocks ahead an hour in every time zone, in accordance with the War Time Act of 1942, which Congress had passed on January 30. Later on September 30, 1945, this was repealed, which allowed each state and more countries to revert to setting their clocks to whatever “standard time” they chose to follow within their jurisdictions.

Daylight Saving Time didn’t become standard in the United States until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 was passed. This act mandates standard time across the country within established time zones. It states that clocks would advance one hour at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in April and turn back one hour at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday in October. Though, states were allowed to exempt themselves as long as the entire state did so. By the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight Saving Time was extended in the United States beginning in 2007. When that year started, DST begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November, this being the new standard DST.

After the wars were through, the main reason for DST is energy conservation. When clocks are set backward, energy is used less due to more daylight available. Studies have shown that any energy saved from using their lights less is offset by an increased use of air conditioning.

Today, only two states, Arizona and Hawaii, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam do not use DST.