Who is responsible for daylight saving time?
Benjamin Franklin was the instigator. He came up with the idea of saving an hour of daylight every day and naming it daylight saving time. He wanted to have another hour of sleep, not another hour of work.
Franklin was appointed to be an ambassador to France in 1776, the same year when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
On Oct. 26 he set sail from Philadelphia on the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in France a month later. He loved to attend parties and felt it was his duty to the United States to never leave a French party early.
But the morning afterward, he wanted to remain in bed a little longer, so he wanted another hour of darkness so he could sleep later. He suggested to the king of France that they should push the hour hand ahead on all clocks in France. The king toyed with the idea, but the French Revolution put an end to the idea.
Franklin returned to the United States in 1785 and died five years later. His idea of daylight saving time was revived approximately 125 years later. During World War I, people thought it was a great idea to save electricity. Some communities and states continued it off and on after the war.
In 1965 Congress passed a law making daylight saving time uniform for the whole United States. Daylight saving time began on the last Sunday in April and ended the last Sunday in October. All states were not required to belong to the daylight saving plan. They were given a choice. Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, territories of the United States, did not adopt the daylight saving time plan. Farmers were opposed to it because they say the farm animals do not change their schedules, but many people liked it. Today it is from 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March until 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November.
During Richard Nixon’s reign as president, daylight saving time was tried all year long. The result was one more hour of darkness in the morning all year long. Many people opposed this.
“Jump backward and leap forward” could have been the slogan adopted to help people remember how they should set their clocks. However, the slogan became “spring forward, fall back.” I like my idea better: Forfeit an hour of sleep in the spring, and gain an hour of sleep in the fall.
Businesses were in favor of daylight saving time in the summer because it gave their customers more daylight shopping time which was a boost to the local economy. Kids like it because they had more time to play either outside or inside. Coaches favored it because it gave more practice time during daylight hours and game time. The workforce appreciated extended daylight time to enjoy family, recreational activities and relaxation.
Blame Benjamin Franklin for daylight saving time if you are not happy with it, or praise Benjamin Franklin if you like daylight saving time. My big hang-up is changing the time on all of my clocks. The last time I counted, I had 26 in my house. Invariably, I forget one or two clocks.
Millie Vos is the secretary/treasurer of the Sheldon Historical Society and the museum director and a board member of the Sheldon Prairie Museum, 319 10th St. This is part of a series of historical articles about Sheldon. Members of the Sheldon Historical Society receive a yearly newsletter with articles like this. To join the society, call her at 712-324-3235 or stop by the museum.