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Moses Cotsworth, Calendar Reformer
From an Autobiographical Preface to Cotsworth's Calendar Reform, 1927

Moses Cotsworth The writer was born in 1859, an orphan when two years old, and brought up by grand-parents and great-grand-parents who used the old shadow-pin, noon-mark and hour-glass methods, knowledge of which greatly facilitated his later researches.

During his schooldays those ancesters interested him in Calendars--a home-gathered old series of which contained charts, illustrations and quotations, which the elders discussed and explained.

His business training began in the Chief Traffic Manager's Office of the North Eastern Railway Company at York, for work in which he was selected on account of special aptitude for making calculations and investigations. Later he was engaged to do the extensive computations and adjustments required during the 1891 to 1895 Revision of British Railway Rates.

After that his book on "Railway Rates and Charges" was published. Next he was called upon to establish an improved system of railway statistics, which has since been adopted by the British Railway Companies and Ministry of Transport.

During those years, the inconveniences caused by the defective Calendar were more deeply impressed upon his mind, as Railway Directors and Managers pressed for more precise explanations of the ever-changing differences between monthly totals for Income and Expenditure, which were incessantly deflected from the true basis of comparison by these four calendar-caused factors:

  1. Different lengths of the 28, 29, 30 and 31-day months.
  2. Changing day-names for all those numbered dates in every following month developed confusing results, because every day of the week had a different economic value, as proved by the Railway's average weekly Income.
    Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat.
    4%18%17% 17½%17% 16½%10%

    (The disparities in Saturday and Sunday Incomes were mainly caused by the closing of goods stations and coal-depots on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.)
  3. Because the months were not complete multiples of the week, the Calendar made it very difficult to make exact monthly comparisons and watch business progress.
    (The fact that wages were paid weekly but salaries and accounts were paid monthly, further complicated the work.)
  4. Those difficulties were increased by the moon-wandering of Easter to different dates in March and April, which also caused Whitsuntide to wander to different dates in May and June, making all those four months more incomparable with each other, and with the corresponding months in previous years.
These four calendar defects forced the writer to work late, and practical consideration showed that they could be remedied by International Agreement to make these three easy changes:
  1. Change the week-day name for the last day in every year to "Year-day" and absorb it as the 8th day expansion of the 52nd week, to fix perpetual day-names to the same 365 dates in every year.
  2. Combine the last 13 days of June and the first 15 days of July into a Mid-Year month (Sol) 28 days long, to equalize 13 months to always equal the length of February's four complete weeks.
  3. Fix the date of Easter Sunday on the present April 9th, then Whit-Sunday would every year recur on May 28th.

Researches during many years convinced the writer that many . . . benefits . . . could be brought to all Nations by such an Agreement; but he found that people generally believed that the sub-divisions of the calendar were as unalterable as the motions of the sun and stars. The unequal lengths of months and quarter-years were historically fixed by the whims of Julius and Augustus Cæsar.

To prove the need for, and practicability of reform, his proposals were published in 1899, followed by his 573-page book, "The Rational Almanac" in 1903. The latter was reviewed, and among the purchasers was Sir Sandford Flemming, who constructed the Canadian Pacific Railway across Canada, and originated the world-wide system of "Standard Time" change of clocks and watches by one hour for each 15 degrees East and West of Greenwich.

Sir Sandford became convinced that it was practicable to reform the calendar by an International Conference, like the one his efforts induced the United States Government to assemble in 1886, after he had in vain tried to induce the British Association and Government to consider what could be done.

Sir Sandford said his experience proved that constructive action could be obtained in as many months on the American side, as it would take years to move the European side, and he invited the writer to go to Ottawa to read his Thesis on the reform of the calendar before the Royal Society of Canada . . . . The result was that the Royal Society unanimously endorsed the proposal and its Council petitioned the Canadian Government, who reprinted the Thesis and sent copies to the British Government, requesting that they be circulated to leading Governments concerned.

. . . .

In February, 1922, advocates of Calendar Reform assembled the American Preliminary Conference to select the best method of reform. They unanimously decided that the writer's propsals were the best. This decision caused him to thence-forward devote the whole of his time to the world-wide researches and efforts necessary to establish the reform.

During the next two years he worked through the Unites States and Canada, convincing Government, Industrial, Commercial and Labour experts who helped him to form the "International Fixed Calendar League" and interested such able advocates as Mr. George Eastman (of Kodak and philanthropic fame), who (after the death of the League's President, Sir Sanford), became the outstanding International Leader.

By organized efforts, the reform was brought to the practical stage when the League of Nations decided to appoint a Committee of Enquiry, which sent out questionnaires to all Governments, and requested all advocates to send in their proposals.

. . . .

The foregoing facts aided by the powerful influence of the International Chamber of Commerce and support of Labour leaders, indicate . . . that this mutually beneficial reform will have the united support of both capital and labour.

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