Madison Courier article on
World War I Armistice
(November 12, 1918)
On April 6, 1917, the United States Congress declared war on Germany and entered the Great War as an associated power with the Allies against the Central Powers led by Germany. Three years earlier, Germany had declared war on Russia and France at the beginning of August in 1914 in support of its alliance with Austria-Hungary, which had declared war just days earlier against Serbia. What everyone thought would be a quick end to a conflict dragged out over the next four bloody years.
At 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918 - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month of the year - a formal armistice was signed by representatives
from Germany, Britain, and France. This brought a ceasefire to a conflict
that had lasted four years and engulfed more than the entire continent of
Europe. No other war had changed the map of Europe as greatly as this one
had. Four entire empires had disappeared: the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman,
and the Russian. Along with this, millions of soldiers and civilians had been
killed, and millions more were wounded. All over Europe, news of the armistice
was greeted with relief. Having entered the war over a year earlier, the news
was also greeted with jubilation here in America. - Matthew Sweeney (HC
N.B. The text below is transcribed verbatum, including the occasional typographical error.
The great and glorious news reached Madison at three o'clock this morning.
A telephone message from Associated Press headquarters at Indianapolis to the
Courier at three o'clock was the first news of the signing of the armistice
to reach Madison.
At six o'clock the news was flashed over the city and factory whistles picked
it up in a short time. Church bells, fire bells and school bells joined in the
chorus and telephones rang wildly as friends and neighbors informed one another
of the tidings.
Three steamers in the harbor, the A. R. Budd, the Hazel Rice and Trimble sounded
their whistles for several minutes when the [unreadable] were informed that
hostilities were at an end.
Hurried arrangements for a parade were made by Mr. William Ogden, council of
defense chairman, and crowds lined Main street waving flags and shouting, "The
war is over," "gee ain't it great," resounded up and down. Factory
hands who had just reported for work laid down their tools and beat it. School
children, who had planned to re-enter school this morning, left home without
breakfast to get in the parade.
Several members of the Elks band assembled and, headed by Mayor White, William
Ogden and a group of civil war veterans, a parade was started down Main street.
The band struck up "Over There" and the crowd screamed with joy. Flags
were unfurled from every window.
A battle-scarred flag belonging to the G. A. R. was carried at the head of
the procession. Factory hands, school children, teachers, merchants, professional
men - everybody joined in the line of march. There were no vehicles, everybody
going it afoot.
The parade moved up Main street and out Walnut, then counter-marched to the
soldier' and sailors' monument, where Dr. J. W. Turner offered an inspired prayer
of thanks to the Almighty. The band played "The Star Spangled Banner"
and the crowd, with bared heads waved flags as the strains of the nation's anthem
echoed through the streets.
Improvised floats soon appeared on the streets and cars that were made to carry
five passengers carried fifteen or twenty. The local supply of tin horns, flags
and fire-works soon sold out. The factories closed for the time and men in working
garb joined the throng. All sorts of noise-making devices were brought into
Business was at a standstill during the day and the only subject that people
will talk about is the war. Tonight a big parade will be held on the streets.
Tony Benham, carrier of the Lexington mail to Madison, brought the news at
six o'clock this morning. Mr. Hiram Foster telephoned to The Courier from Deputy
that all trains out of Louisville were decorated with flags and bunting and
that even passengers were cheering as the trains passed through Deputy.
Today in Hanover History Chronology
Hanover College History Department Home Page