Since The US is Springing Forward, Here’s the History Behind Daylight Saving Time

Despite what you may have heard, Benjamin Franklin did not invent Daylight Savings Time.

By Published on March 11, 2019

Americans in most states are experiencing the effects of “springing forward” and setting their clocks an hour ahead on Sunday, but how did daylight saving time start?

Many people think that daylight saving time, abbreviated DST, can trace its roots back to founding father Benjamin Franklin. But that’s a misinterpretation of a satirical essay Franklin wrote while living in Paris in 1784, according to History.com. Franklin advised that Parisians wake up with the sun because of “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles,” not that clocks be set forward or backward.

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So who is a more likely candidate for father of daylight saving time?

Englishman William Willett made it his life’s work to get DST implemented but died in 1915, a year before his country adopted it in 1916. History.com explains:

While on an early-morning horseback ride around the desolate outskirts of London in 1905, Willett had an epiphany that the United Kingdom should move its clocks forward by 80 minutes between April and October so that more people could enjoy the plentiful sunlight. The Englishman published the 1907 brochure “The Waste of Daylight” and spent much of his personal fortune evangelizing with missionary zeal for the adoption of “summer time.”

So, Willett’s work wasn’t for nothing. The United Kingdom will implement DST between March 31 and Oct. 27 in 2019.

DST is observed in nearly all parts of the U.S. except Hawaii and parts of Arizona, according to CNN. U.S. territories Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa do not conform to DST either.

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The U.S. began using DST during World War I to save energy, but it stuck. The patchwork of DST rules that varied from town to town and state to state was brought together in the Uniform Time Act of 1966, according to CNN.

Roughly 70 nations worldwide observe daylight saving.

 

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