Americans in most states (but not all) will "spring forward" their clocks tonight. Most people know that Daylight Saving Time caught on as part of energy-saving efforts during World War I. But did you know clock-changing actually became illegal in some places once the war concluded?
In a fascinating look back into its archives, Time unearths this 1923 story about the bitter battle over Daylight Saving Time in Connecticut. Who knew mis-matched schedules could cause such fury?
A bill is before the Legislature to make public display of a clock showing any time save Eastern Standard punishable by $100 or ten days in prison. Departments of the State and all institutions receiving State aid would be prohibited from altering their schedules to conform in effect to daylight-saving time.
This is another step in the fight of Connecticut farmers against city dwellers to prevent daylight saving. A year ago, having a majority in the Legislature, the farmers passed a bill against daylight saving, but provided no penalties for failure to comply with the law. The mayors of several cities forthwith issued proclamations recommending the townspeople to advance their clocks. The Legislature angrily protested and threatened to suspend the charter of Hartford, the State Capital. On the day agreed upon for putting daylight saving into effect the merchants turned their clocks ahead. At noon the whistles blew an hour early, and the clerks walked out of the Legislature, leaving the farmer members, unable to continue business, angrily sputtering in their chairs. Later a member from a city constituency offered a bill to provide four commissioners at salaries of $10,000 a year to go about the streets, examine the watches of citizens and take those to jail who used daylight saving time.
The outcome of the whole matter was that the cities used daylight-saving time, while the executive and judicial departments of the State and the railroads kept their clocks at Standard time, but moved their schedules an hour ahead.
Now the farmers intend to put "teeth" into the law.
The law passed ... but "city dwellers" eventually prevailed in the end, getting that extra hour of daylight and committing to a lifetime of semi-annual clock-fiddling in the process.
Photo by North Charleston