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    Railroad time
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 Jan 11, 19:42 -0800

    Below is some argument from a legal appeal read before the Supreme Court of 
    the state of Georgia around 1889. Being a legal argument it exaggerates the 
    significance of the issue to make points, but it does show both the emotional 
    and legal issues involved when changing time standards.
    
    "2. The only standard of time recognized by the law of Georgia is the meridian 
    of the sun; and the fact that a judge runs the court by railroad or 
    "standard" time, which is 22 minutes behind the sun time, will not make a 
    verdict rendered at 2 minutes before 12 on Saturday night by railroad time, 
    and 20 minutes after 12 by sun time, other than a Sunday verdict.
    [...]
    
    "2. The ninth and tenth grounds complain that the verdict was made and 
    returned on Sunday. The judge ran the court by railroad or "standard" time, 
    which was 22 minutes behind the sun time; the verdict being rendered at 2 
    minutes before 12 by the railroad time, and 20 minutes after 12 by the sun 
    time. It was contended in the argument before us that, as the railroad or 
    "standard" time is now used in all the cities and towns along the line of the 
    railroads, that time should be observed by the courts, instead of the 
    meridian or sun time, and that the judge, in this case, having announced at 
    the beginning of the term that he would run the court by the railroad or 
    "standard" time, the verdict was received on Saturday, instead of Sunday. The 
    trial judge, In his note to these grounds of the motion, seems to take this 
    view of the law. We do not agree with him therein. The law, which is strict, 
    and requires certainty where time enters into legal duty, fixes that time 
    with reference to a certain, unvarying, and uniform standard, than which none 
    could be more certain. The only standard of time in the computation of a day, 
    or the hours of a day, recognized by the law of Georgia, is the meridian of 
    the sun ; and a legal day begins and ends at midnight,-the mean time between 
    meridian and meridian, or 12 o'clock P. M., (post meridian,) 12 hours after 
    meridian. The Code, where it mentions the hours of a day, usually affixes 
    "?." (meridian,) "A. M." and "P. M.," (before and after meridian,) to 
    indicate this standard. [...] It seems idle to waste words'in saying that The 
    standard of time fixed by persons in a certain line of business cannot be 
    substituted at will, by persons in a certain locality, for the standard 
    recognized by the statutes of the state, as well as the general law and usage 
    of the country, especially when it is considered that such an arbitrary and 
    artiflcal standard could as easily fix 5 o'clock for midnight as it could 20 
    minutes past 12, as was done in this case. Legal custom cannot in this way 
    change Sunday into Saturday. To expect courts of justice, officers of the 
    law, and the public generally, especially that large class of the population 
    who do not live in cities or at railroad stations, to go to the railroads for 
    the time which is to guide them in the performance of their duties under the 
    law, when they have In the heavens above them a certain standard by which to 
    ascertain or regulate the time, or to permit them at will to follow two 
    standards of time, would be highly impracticable, and would be productive of 
    great uncertainty and confusion In the administration of the law. Thus, the 
    legality of elections might be made to depend upon conflicting proof of local 
    custom ; for what might be considered a legal election in one precinct might 
    be regarded as illegal in the next precinct, because of the time of opening 
    or closing the polls, or the people of a precinct might differ among 
    themselves as to this. And so with regard to the enforcement of the criminal 
    law. The law requires the railroads to cease running their freight trains bv 
    8 o'clock on Sunday mornings. Code, �4578. To allow the railroads to fix the 
    standard of time would be to allow them at pleasure to violate or defeat the 
    law. Even in cities, where it in insisted the adoption of railroad time has 
    become general, the same difficulties might exist; for instance, in the city 
    of Augusta, in this state, which is at the dividing line of two railroad 
    standards, the railroads which enter the city from the east have one standard 
    of time, and the railroads which enter from the west another standard, an 
    hour different, both differing considerably from the meridian or sun 
    standard."
    
    -FER
    
    
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