It is not unusual for myths to overtake reality often creating more confusion than clarity. We are most often confused during the biannual changing of the clocks, and myths abound when we spring forward and fall back. The most common myth surrounding the Daylight-Saving Time, or DST as it is more commonly referred to, is its purpose. Contrary to popular belief, the creation of DST was not for the benefit of farmers. In fact, the proponents of agriculturally oriented endeavors were often the most vocal critics of the practice. DST has an extensive international history dating back to its first documented usage in Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada in 1908.
The practice of DST in the United States was first introduced in 1918 by President Woodrow Wilson. The purpose of creating the law was to aid in the efforts underway regarding World War I, and it continued for a period of seven months when the law was repealed. DST was reintroduced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942. Again, the country was at war (WWII). For more than 20 years, DST was a swinging pendulum in the United States. The states, cities and counties all practiced different versions of DST creating what Time Magazine referred to as the “chaos of clocks”.
In 1966, Congress established the Uniform Time Act to end the chaos of clocks. The UTA established that the biannual practice of DST was to begin on the last Sunday in April ending on the last Sunday in October. However, states could opt out through the passage of an ordinance. To this date Arizona and Hawaii do not participate in the practice of DST. The final change to the practice of DST occurred in 2005 when President GW Bush extended the practice to provide a solution to the country’s energy crisis. This change moved the beginning of DST into the month of March with its ending occurring in the month of November. Perhaps, one day, the United States will discontinue the use of DST. Until then, don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday, November 5th.