When did we start changing the clocks for Daylight Saving Time?

The day after Daylight Saving Time ends usually has people across the national feeling a little more refreshed than usual. Setting clocks back one hour in the fall (also known as ‘falling back’) gives people an extra hour of rest. 

But, how did we start setting our clocks to different times during different parts of the year? Some people point their fingers at Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. He first floated the idea back in 1784. He argued people would save money on candles if they just got up with the sun and went to bed when it went down, according to National Geographic. 

That’s not where the tradition started. It actually wasn’t a thing in the United States for a while after that–1918 to be exact. 

Changing clocks to “save daylight” started in Germany during World War I. According to National Geographic, the German government was trying to find ways to conserve energy. 

Now, the idea of changing the clocks back and forth had been brought up by a few other people before this, but Germany was the first country that went for it. 

It wasn’t too long after that England and the other nations that fought in WWI got on board. 

That brings us back to the U.S. where on March 19, 1918, the Standard Time Act was signed into law. (The law also divided the U.S. into five time zones.) 

This new law did not last long. It was only around for seven months before it was repealed. 

Since then, there have been times where it’s been brought back and then repealed again. 

In 1942 it was known as “War Time” when then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt brought it back during World War II. “War Time” lasted until 1945.

Then in 1966, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 made it so there would be yearly time changes. It established that Daylight Saving Time would start on the last Sunday of April. It would then end on the last Sunday in October.

From 1987 through 2006, Daylight Saving Time would start on the first weekend of April and end on the last weekend of October. However, in 2007 the start and end of Daylight Saving changed once again. 

Now it starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. That’s why this year it ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 7. 

Not everyone loves switching their clocks twice a year. That’s why Washington Senator Patty Murray has called for federal action to move to permanent Daylight Saving Time. 

She spoke on the house floor Thursday calling on U.S. lawmakers to follow the will of Washington voters and allow the state, as well as the rest of the nation, to establish permanent DST. 

Washingtonians voted to make DST permanent two years ago. The measure was also signed by Governor Jay Inslee, but it can only take effect if passed by Congress. 

Murray has partnered with Florida Senator Marco Rubio to put forward what they are calling the “Sunshine Protection Act of 2021.”

MORE: Senator Murray calls for permanent Daylight Saving Time

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