Daylight Saving - Encyclopedia Britannica 1911




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"DAYLIGHT SAVING and Summer Time. - The possibility of saving daylight in summer had been pointed out as early as 1784 by Benjamin Franklin in a paper, " Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light, " contributed to the Journal de Paris. The suggestion that the number of hours during which the use of artificial light is necessary should be reduced by advancing clocks during the summer months was made in Great Britain by the late Mr. William Willett. The first country in Europe to put the proposal into actual operation, primarily as a war measure, was Germany, and the example was followed by Great Britain and most European states; after its wide adoption in Europe, general attention to daylight saving was roused in America in 1916.

In Great Britain, the question had been twice examined by a Select Committee of the House of Commons: in 1908, this Committee reported that " the object was desirable if it could be attained "; but, in 1909, " having regard to the great diversity of opinion as to whether the measure can be attained by legislation without giving rise, in cases involving important interests, to serious inconvenience," the Committee recommended that it should be dropped. In 1916, the need for economy especially in fuel and transport becoming urgent, the " Summer Time Act " was passed, prescribing that, during a period in each year, legal time in Great Britain should be I hr. in advance of Greenwich Mean Time, the precise incidence to be determined annually by Order in Council. The period in 1916 extended from 2 A.M. (Greenwich Time) on May 21 to 2 A.M. (G.T.) on Oct. i and, with the substitution of " Dublin " for " Greenwich " Mean Time, the bill also applied to Ireland. (Later, on Oct. I 191 Ireland adopted the same Standard Time as Great Britain.) In September 1916, in view of expressions of disapproval of certain sections of the community - agriculturists, munition and other factory workers, miners and others - the Home Secretary appointed a committee to inquire into the social and economic results of the Act. It reported to the effect that the small temporary inconvenience of the transition from normal to Standard Time and back were altogether outweighed by the saving in artificial light and by the general gain in health from the addition of an hour of daylight to the time for exercise and recreation. It therefore recommended the continuance of the Act in 1917 and subsequent years, the period for 1917 to be from the second Sunday in April to the third Sunday in September.

In the United States, after several abortive attempts at legislation to apply to the country generally, a bill was introduced in Congress in 1918, passed both houses, and was signed by the President March 19. It provided that time throughout the United States should be advanced i hr. at 2 A.M. on the last Sunday in March and so continue until 2 A.M. on the last Sunday in October. This law came to an end in Aug. 1918 after two years' trial, but though the country as a whole repudiated daylight saving, certain eastern states still continued it.

A new law in New York, passed in 1921, provided for local option, so that daylight saving could continue in New York City and several other cities. In Canada (though there was a strong rural feeling against it) Summer Time continued to be adopted in 1921, the U.S. and Canadian railways running to Standard Time. The Australian Senate repealed the Daylight Saving Act in 1917, and Spain ceased to adopt Summer Time in 1920. In 1918, the Egyptian Government reported against the scheme, which has, in fact, met with little support outside Europe and N. America.

Considerable opposition to the Act was manifested in Great Britain and still stronger in the United States. Among other things, it was alleged that children's sleeping hours would be curtailed; that vitality of body was reduced in the early hours. But reports of police authorities showed that the tendency throughout the country to spend the extra hour out of doors made for improvement in the moral tone, a marked decrease in juvenile offences was noted, and health committees saw no reason to suppose that workers were adversely affected. Many farmers believed erroneously that their former noon hour was the hottest part of the day, although the greatest heat is, in fact, from 2 to 3 hours later; more sound was the objection that the early morning hour was not favourable to farm (especially harvest) work because of the heavy dew, and had to be made good at the cost of overtime. Some complained that milking time was forced ahead abnormally. Confusion arose at first in the record of astronomical and meteorological observation and some series of observations were interrupted. City people as a whole were, however, strongly in favour of the measure, though some pointed out that many were forced to exchange a cooler morning sleeping hour for a warm early night hour. When Summer Time ceased to operate in the United States, some inconvenience was experienced by the reduction of the number of business hours common to the London and New York Exchanges. But saving of coal was probably in excess of the estimate of 22 million tons in Great Britain, and in the United States the saving amounted to it million tons during the 7 months' period in 1918.

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