Armistice and Aftermath
By the first of November 1918, the end was near. On November 6, Berlin dispatched envoys to carry an armistice proposal to Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch. Waiting in his railway carriage in the forest at Compiègne, Foch guided the Germans by wireless to the designated frontier crossing-point. As they approached the French lines on November 7, he ordered his guns in that sector to stand silent, so that the truce party might safely pass.
Somehow, a war-zone correspondent from United Press mistook the momentary stand-down in that single sector for a general cease fire. Excitedly, he flashed a message in cable-ese to New York: "Urgent. Armistice Allies Germany signed smorning. Hostilities ceased two safternoon." The cable arrived in UP's Manhattan office in the Pulitzer Building at noon; by 1:00 p.m. it had been relayed to other cities, and special newspaper editions proclaiming peace were on the stands. In New York, sirens, bells, whistles, and shouts split the clear November air. Clerks abandoned desks, workers put down tools, and thousands of men and women poured into the streets in a wild, whooping dance of celebration. Chicago erupted in a "carnival of noise and ribaldry." A Belgian tenor broke into a Chicago Opera Company rehearsal with the news, and the Italian director—obviously a connoisseur of the bella figura—immediately ordered the singing of "The Star Spangled Ban