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 '08)

N.B. The text below is transcribed verbatum, including the occasional typographical error.

"The Town Wild with Joy: First News of Signing of Armistice Received by the Courier at Three A. M.," Madison Courier, November 12, 1918.

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 use.

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.

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