President Chester A. Arthur in 1884. (Catalog of American Portraits/Wikimedia Commons)
The International Meridian Conference
In all, 26 countries were represented at the conference, and although everyone agreed on the need to establish a global prime meridian, they didn’t agree on where it should be. After some debate over the merits of the lines crossing through Rome, Paris, Oslo, St. Petersburg, Jerusalem, and more, the group settled on the one bisecting the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, with 24 time zones increasing by one hour as they move east and decreasing to the west.
The International Meridian Conference also passed seven key resolutions, including the International Date Line, universal solar day, and the standardization of navigation charts. These resolutions were accepted by most countries, but there are a few notable exceptions. For example, China is nearly as wide as the United States, but it operates on one time zone rather than the four found in the continental U.S.