Friday, November 9, 2018

The Armistice that Wasn't: United Press Blunders on the 7th

The headlines on November 7th in 1918 were the biggest perhaps that they'd ever been.

November 7th, 1918

November 7th, 1918
The citizenry planned big celebrations and parades.

Advertisers jumped on the bandwagon.

November 8th, 1918
But there was a problem. Some managed a course-correction, and submitted revised ads by deadline.

November 8th, 1918
As it happened, there was a tremendous error made by one of the young wire services. At multiple points in the chain of transmission, reporters, clerks, and even an Admiral, passed along information without double-checking and verifying it. In error, papers all over the country reported the end of the war.

Editorial, November 8th, 1918
Students of the war know it as the "false armistice" of November 7th, but for most of us it's been swamped by the actual Armistice of November 11th.

Since the actual news had become a little anticlimactic, the front page used slightly smaller headlines than those on the 7th.

November 11th, 1918
Even having read the paper daily in 1917 and 1918, in sequence as the war unfolded, it's still difficult to grasp. President Wilson is not nearly as sympathetic - or great, for that matter - as Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt. It's hard to see the war in any kind of "just war" framework. Ending slavery and preserving the Union, as well as fighting Nazis, place those two wars intuitively in a just war frame. Even if the enormity is staggering, and horrific unjust events unfolded, the basic aims can be grasped. Claims for, and especially propaganda from, the First World War still seem overheated in comparison.

Fighting the Hun as "The Slavering Beast"
November 9th, 1917
Noted neocon and nevertrumper David Frum makes the other case, that we don't value those claims enough, and in 2015 wrote an apologia for the war, "What If the Allies Had Lost World War I?"
To understand why the U.S. fought in 1917, begin by considering the outcome if the United States had not fought. Minus U.S. reinforcements on land and sea, it’s difficult to imagine how the Allies could have defeated a Germany that had knocked revolutionary Russia out of the war....

The question confronting the United States in 1917 was the same question that confronted Americans in 1941, and again after World War II, and now again as China rises: Who will shape world order? The United States and its liberal democratic traditions? Or challengers impelled by aggressive authoritarian ideologies of one kind or another?...

Had the Western Allies lost the First World War, European democracy would have failed the test that American democracy surmounted in the Civil War: the test of survival in the competition between nations and regimes.
You can decide for yourself, and this 100th anniversary of the Armistice is a good moment to meditate on the costs of war and reasons for it.

Prosthetic devices as sales opportunity
 was a new thing in the paper.
 October 9th, 1918

At the Civil War Memorial in City View
over Allhallowtide
For Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the paper has a lovely vignette of Lt. Col. Carle Abrams, a Salemite writing from England on the 11th and, having heard about the Armistice, disappointed he had not made it to the front.

He seems to have led a varied and interesting life, and in mid-century was active here in a number of significant areas, some of which might deserve further research and telling:
[He] returned to civilian life and resumed his duties as co-publisher of the Statesman with R.J. Hendricks. His obituary says he was co-publisher until 1930.

He eventually did accept a colonel’s commission in the National Guard and for 20 years was in command of the 381st and 382nd infantry regiments until they were activated at Camp Adair in July 1942.

Age-grade regulations of the Army prevented Abrams from being called to duty during World War II. He retired as a brigadier general in 1950....

He was appointed by the governor earlier in his career as the chairman of the state industrial accident commission, and he served as secretary of the state board of control and state budget director. He also served another term in the Legislature in 1933....

[Towards the end of his life] He was focused at the time on developing land east of Lancaster Drive NE. Street names in the area include Carleton Way NE and Abrams Avenue NE. [link added]
This will be great to see in print. Hopefully it will be in the Sunday edition and will get space and color.

Update, Sunday the 11th

And here they are!!!

A very nice front-page spread

And a generous interior one


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And here's another Frum piece, "Over There, and Overlooked: The centennial of the First World War is slipping past unnoticed in the United States, despite its persistent legacy."

"But fourth, and perhaps most importantly of all, ranks the failure of the war to accomplish the aims set by its more idealistic American supporters. It didn’t make the world safe for democracy. It was not a war to end all wars....

The American dismissal of the trauma of the First World War is itself deceptive and dangerous. Large national experiences are rarely truly forgotten. They exert their influence even when that influence is denied. The First World War haunts American history too.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...


It looks like there might be a history piece in the paper about the parade on the 7th.

From Salem History Matters:

"Some topics Andy is researching for upcoming articles include the unofficial and then the official parades marking the end of World War I; the "Hotel DeMento"--a homeless men's shelter located in Salem City Hall from 1930-1942; Salem going dry in January 1914; and the memorable freeze of the Willamette River in 1924."

(It's probably "Hotel DeMinto," as the Library's Historic Photo Collection captions some relevant images saying "Hotel DeMinto was named for Frank Minto, Salem, Oregon's Chief of Police during the Great Depression.")

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Looks like the SJ piece was posted earlier today.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And updated with clips from the paper. The front page is very handsome!