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Benjamin Franklin and Daylight Saving Time

Tonight is the night we set our clocks forward one hour to go into Daylight Saving Time, at least in most of the U.S. The custom of Daylight Saving Time is by no means universal, and you’ll find people who are completely against it, and also people who think we should use it year-round. Benjamin Franklin is credited with the idea way back in 1784, but most believe he wasn’t at all serious about it.

French ambassador Franklin flashed his legendary wit with a letter to the Journal of Paris in which he claimed to be astonished, upon being awakened at 6 a.m., to find that the sun was already up. He, and no doubt his readers, had never seen the sun before noon. (Related: "Daylight Saving Time: 7 Surprising Things You May Not Know.")

“I saw it with my own eyes. And, having repeated this observation the three following mornings, I found always precisely the same result.”

Money would be saved, Franklin argued, if people rose with the sun and turned in earlier at night, replacing hours of expensive candle use with free morning daylight.

While Franklin was poking fun at the French for sleeping in, he was also known for seeking out efficiency and conservation, so it may not have been entirely humor. It was a long road from that idea to what we have now. Along the way, there was a patchwork of problems, like keeping track of what time it was in each little town across America, and that time that the Soviet Union kept the wrong time for 61 years. Read those stories and more at National Geographic. -via The Verge


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