Why Does Daylight Savings Time Exist in the United States?

Daylight saving time (DST) is a practice of setting the clocks forward by one hour during the summer months in order to extend daylight into the evening. This tradition has been observed in the United States since the early 20th century, and is currently in use in most states.

Origins of Daylight Saving Time in the United States

The idea of daylight saving time can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin, who first suggested the concept in a 1784 essay. However, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the concept was seriously proposed. The idea was initially implemented in Germany in 1916 as a wartime measure to conserve fuel, and it quickly spread throughout Europe.

In the United States, the idea was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin’s successor as ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the idea gained traction. In 1918, the U.S. Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which established standard time zones across the country and also implemented daylight saving time.

The purpose of daylight saving time was to save energy during World War I, when there were concerns about fuel shortages. By extending daylight into the evening, it was believed that people would use less energy for lighting and heating. However, the practice was controversial from the start, with some people arguing that it disrupted sleep patterns and caused confusion.

Daylight Saving Time Today

Despite the controversy, daylight saving time has been in use in the United States for over a century. Today, most states observe daylight saving time, with the exception of Hawaii and most of Arizona. The practice typically begins on the second Sunday in March, when clocks are set forward by one hour, and ends on the first Sunday in November, when clocks are set back by one hour.

The main argument in favor of daylight saving time is that it extends daylight into the evening hours, allowing people to enjoy more outdoor activities and reducing the need for artificial lighting. However, opponents argue that it disrupts sleep patterns and causes confusion, especially for people who live near the border of a state that does not observe daylight saving time.

In recent years, there have been efforts to abolish daylight saving time altogether. In 2019, a bill was introduced in Congress to make daylight saving time permanent, but it has not yet been passed into law. Some states have also taken matters into their own hands, with Florida passing a law in 2018 to make daylight saving time permanent, pending federal approval.


Daylight saving time has been a controversial tradition in the United States since its inception over a century ago. While the practice was initially implemented to save energy during World War I, its benefits and drawbacks have been debated ever since. Today, most states observe daylight saving time, but there have been efforts to abolish the practice altogether. Whether or not daylight saving time will continue to be observed in the United States remains to be seen.

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