Ask those killed by the French army’s suppression of the Paris Commune (the subject of yesterday’s Almanac entry) or the Iraqis whose lives are still upended by the US invasion of 2003 (the twelfth anniversary of which we’ll observe tomorrow) whether time heals all wounds, but the politicization of the Daylight Saving Law, passed by Congress ninety-six years ago today, does seem to have somewhat abated in the intervening century. The Nation supported the law, but one of its readers a few years later adamantly did not. Speaking for the many farmers who opposed the law (and tried to repeal it in 1919) because it messed with their schedules, Lillian Beardsley of Connecticut sent the following letter to the editor:
To the Editor of The Nation:
Sir: I have read with regret your editorial reference to the Daylight Saving Law. I am accustomed to the one-sided view which the daily newspapers take of this law, but while my acquaintance with The Nation is not of many months’ standing, I am surprised to find it championing this most vicious and class-discriminatory piece of legislation. The law is vicious, in the first place, because it inflicts hardship and financial loss on the farmer, and the farmers are the hardest-working and poorest paid (according to capital invested) of any class. Agriculture is the basic industry upon which all others depend, and even though the farmers are a minority they should have first consideration in such a matter as this, and their decision should be final. In the second place, the law discriminates against the great mass of long-hour laborers, because their lighting and heating bills are increased. I know, because I live in a ten hour town.
Lillian R. Beardsley; New Britain, Connecticut
To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, every morning this year The Almanac will highlight something that happened that day in history and how The Nation covered it. Get The Almanac every day (or every week) by signing up to the e-mail newsletter.