Benjamin Franklin Intended Daylight Savings Time as a Joke
How many of us think Daylight Savings Time is a good idea? Not many, according to the people I've asked. The kicker? The whole idea of DST began as nothing but a satiric joke by Benjamin Franklin!
In 1784, he wrote a spoof letter (article) titled An Economical Project, describing how we could “save time”. In the letter, he mentions ringing church bells and firing cannons instead of changing clocks. Why? If these are done when the sun rises, it would “maximize the amount of time people would be awake during times when the sun is providing free light”.
He was not serious. He wrote it with tongue-in-cheek to the local newspaper, whose editors were always looking for ‘new’ discoveries. Here is just a small portion of what he wrote:
“An accidental sudden noise waked me about six in the morning, when I was surprised to find my room filled with light.....I got up and looked out to see what might be the occasion of it, when I saw the sun just rising above the horizon.....I looked at my watch..... and found that it was but six o’clock; and still thinking it something extraordinary that the sun should rise so early, I looked into the almanac, where I found it to be the hour given for his rising on that day.....when I speak of this discovery to others…..they do not quite believe me..... I should have slept six hours longer by the light of the sun, and in exchange have lived six hours the following night by candle-light.....my love of economy induced me to muster up what little arithmetic I was master of, and to make some calculations.....and that a discovery which can be applied to no use, or is not good for something, is good for nothing”.
He jokingly gives solutions on how to get people out of bed at sunup and not sleep until noon:
1) TAX PEOPLE WITH WINDOW SHUTTERS
2) RATION THEIR CANDLES
3) RING CHURCH BELLS AT SUNUP
4) FIRE CANNONS AT SUNUP
It was all written as a satirical joke, a concept Franklin excelled at. He did not have a name for it; that came over 100 years later. Daylight Savings Time as we know it now was proposed in 1895. In 1916, European countries began to implement it.
The United States began experimenting with DST from 1916 through 1966.
Michigan dabbled with it in 1967 & 1968, then permanently implemented it in 1973.
Keep it or get rid of it?