The first of two time changes for 2021 takes place at 2 a.m., this Sunday, March 14.
The American law by which we turn our clocks forward in the spring and back in the fall is known as the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
The act does not actually require that anyone observe Daylight Saving Time (DST); all the law says is that if we are going to observe DST, it must be done uniformly.
Benjamin Franklin, while a minister to France, first suggested the idea in an essay titled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light.”
The essay was first published in the Journal de Paris in April 1784. But it wasn’t until more than a century later that an Englishman, William Willett, suggested DST again in 1907.
Willett was reportedly passing by homes where the shades were down, even though the sun was up. Because of his observations he wrote a pamphlet called “The Waste of Daylight.”
He wanted to move the clock ahead by 80 minutes in four moves of 20 minutes, each during the spring and summer months. In 1908, the British House of Commons rejected advancing the clock by one hour in the spring and back again in the fall.
Willett’s idea didn’t die and it culminated in the introduction of British Summer Time by an Act of Parliament in 1916.
Clocks were put one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during the summer months.
England recognized that the nation could save energy and changed their clocks during the first World War.
In 1918, in order to conserve resources for the war effort, the U.S. Congress placed the country on Daylight Saving Time for the remainder of WW I.
It was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919. The law was so disliked that it was later repealed.
However, when America went to war again, Congress reinstated DST on Feb 9, 1942.
The clocks were advanced one hour to save energy. Clocks remained advanced one hour ahead for the entire year until Sept. 30, 1945.
Like the United States, England recognized DST again during WWII. Clocks were changed two hours ahead of GMT during the summer, which became known as Double Summer Time.
But it didn’t stop with the summer. During the war, clocks remained one hour ahead of GMT though the winter.
From 1945 to 1966, there was no U.S. law about DST. So, states and localities were free to observe DST or not.
The down side to letting people choose caused confusion, especially for the broadcasting industry and for trains and buses.
Because of the different local customs and laws, radio and TV stations and the transportation companies had to publish new schedules every time a state or town began or ended DST.
By 1966, some 100 million Americans were observing DST through their own local laws and customs. Congress decided to step in and end the confusion by establishing one pattern across the country.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 created DST to begin on the last Sunday of April and to end on the last Sunday of October.
Any area that wanted to be exempt from DST could do so by passing a local ordinance.
DST was changed slightly in 1986 when President Reagan signed Public Law 99-359.
It changed DST from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. No change was made to the ending date of the last Sunday in October.
President George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Policy Act of 2005, on Aug. 8, 2005.
The act changed the start date of DST to the second Sunday in March and the end date to the First Sunday in November. The new dates began in March 2007.
The original house bill would have added two full months, one in the spring and another in the fall.
According to some U.S. senators, farmers complained that a two-month extension could affect livestock and airline officials said it would have complicated scheduling of international flights.
So, a compromise was worked out to start the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November.
Don’t forget to spring forward one hour Sunday.