A full week later, I'm still savoring the extra hour of sleep I got last Sunday morning at 2 a.m. when daylight saving time officially ended for 2012.

Of course, I lost that hour in the days since, lying awake thinking about the history of daylight savings time. The March 7, 1947, edition of a local Westminster paper carried an article which gives us some insight into almost a century of controversy over daylight saving time.

Ben Franklin is credited with advocating the value of "daylight saving," in 1784, in a satirical, anonymous letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris. In it, he proposed, among many humorous remedies to the overuse of candles, a tax on shutters, to be enforced by stepped-up police vigilance and the rationing of candles.

It was not until the Standard Time Act was enacted March 19, 1918, that daylight saving time was established in the United States. It was so controversial that it was promptly repealed in 1919.


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According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, it was re-established nationally early in World War II, and was continuously observed from February 1942 to September 1945. After the war, its use was determined locally among states, counties and communities.

In 1947, the now-defunct Democratic Advocate wrote that, "By defeating the statewide daylight savings measure, the House of Delegates left the 'time' question up to the individual towns and cities. Baltimore City has already determined that it will have daylight savings and Baltimore County will probably adopt the city's time.

"Westminster will vote on the issue on May 7, 1947. Other towns in Carroll County may use daylight savings time, from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September. The result is bound to be confusing."

It was not until the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that the dates, for the beginning and end of daylight saving time during the summer months, were established.

Congress again meddled with the starting dates during the "energy crisis" years in the mid-1970s. Although the ending date remained in October, the Naval Observatory reports, "In 1974, daylight time began on 6 January and in 1975 it began on 23 February. After those two years the starting date reverted to the last Sunday in April.

"In 1986, a law was passed that shifted the starting date of daylight time to the first Sunday in April, beginning in 1987…"

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed the "spring forward" and "fall back" dates once again. The 2005 law mandated that "beginning in 2007, daylight time starts on the second Sunday in March, and ends on the first Sunday in November."

Are you confused enough yet?"

Believe me, it's not worth losing sleep over.

In researching the history of daylight saving time, many articles noted a tale about the old Indian chief who was told of the reasons for daylight saving time. The story goes that he responded, "Only the government could believe that cutting a foot off the top of a blanket and sewing it to the bottom, would make a longer blanket."

When is not trying to figure out what time it is, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com