World War 1: How the media & public called for Germany’s unconditional surrender (1918)

World War 1 in 1918

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In the weeks before WW1 ended, newspapers around the country banded together to promote their cause: an unconditional surrender from Germany.

Dozens of newspapers joined the call, and they finally got what they wished for when, on November 11, 1918,  instead of running the “America’s historic answer” line across the top of the paper, they were at long last able to report “GERMANY HAS SURRENDERED; WORLD WAR ENDED AT 6 A M.”

WWI 1918 - Sheet music for Knock the germ out of Germany

At the mastheads

On Monday, The [New York] Tribune sent to a number of American newspapers the following telegram:

Beginning tomorrow, The New York Tribune, with other papers, will carry the line at the top of its front page:


Will you join in this action, and will you advise us by wire so that we may include your paper in the list which we shall print, and is there any “Unconditional Surrender Club” in your city yet?
-New York Tribune.

The following replies have been received:

Philadelphia Inquirer

Philadelphia, Oct. 14. – The Philadelphia Inquirer is using the unconditional surrender line. The city where the nation’s independence was born is unanimously one great unconditional surrender club.

Wheeling Intelligencer

Wheeling, W. Va., Oct. 14. – Yes and yes; first Unconditional Surrender Club of 25 formed yesterday. Sent telegraphic plea to President Wilson, and today thousands of additional names added to petitions to the President.

Arizona Republican

Phoenix, Ariz., Oct. 14. – “Unconditional surrender” will appear at the head of our first page tomorrow morning. Have no Unconditional Surrender Club, but our people unqualifiedly stand for this policy.

Unconditional surrender from Germany - Arizona Republic Oct 15 1918

Hartford Courant

Hartford, Conn., Oct. 14. – Hartford Courant joins in unconditional surrender movement. Yes, club here.

Wichita Beacon

Wichita, Kan., Oct. 15. – We join you. Unconditional Surrender Club here. Growing fast. No doubt about Kansas on that score.

Topeka Daily Capital

Topeka, Kan., Oct. 15. – We will run unconditional surrender line. No club here yet.

Omaha Bee

Omaha, Neb., Oct. 15. – The Omaha Daily Bee will carry the line.

WWI 1918 - Sheet music for When we go to conquer Germany

Denver News

Denver, Col., Oct. 14. – Will use unconditional surrender on top editorial page instead of front page. Typographical reasons. In morning and as long as situation demands. Please give us brief story on results of plan for use in morning.

Salt Lake Herald

Salt Lake, Utah, Oct. 14. – The Salt Lake Herald will join in your plan on unconditional surrender. Following is quoted from a front page editorial: “The American people have made it quite plain to President Wilson that they will accept no peace not based on the historic battle cry of General Grant, ‘Unconditional surrender.'” Our allies who must live next door to the unspeakable Hun have spoken in no uncertain terms. Our Unconditional Surrender Club is headed by President Joseph F Smith, of Mormon Church.

Wisconsin State Journal

Madison, Wis., Oct. 15. – The Wisconsin State Journal today starts carrying the “Unconditional Surrender” line on Page 1. Club is now being organized here, with University of Wisconsin faculty members as leaders.

Portland Oregonian

Portland, Ore., Oct. 14. – An Unconditional Surrender Club was formed in Portland tonight. “I will guarantee,” said Mayor George L. Baker, who was one of the first to sign the roll, “that this club, whose purpose is to demand unconditional surrender from Germany, as voiced by President Wilson’s demands, will find 300,000 members in Portland and environs.”

St. Louis Republic

St. Louis, Oct. 14. – The Republic for three weeks has carried this line at the head of its editorial page: “Our peace terms: Unconditional surrender by Germany and Austria.”

WWI political cartoon Oct 1918

Knickerbocker Press

Albany, Oct. 14. – The Knickerbocker Press has published “Unconditional Surrender” across its first page since September 18.

Denver Times

Denver, Oct. 15. – We are running “Unconditional surrender” line.

Albany Journal

Albany, Oct. 14. – Albany Journal joins Unconditional Surrender Club. No club in our city.

Ogden Examiner

Ogden, Utah, Oct. 14. – Ogden Examiner will carry “unconditional surrender” at top of front page. No club formed here, but “unconditional surrender” has been made plank of Republican county platform.

Utica Press

Utica, N.Y., Oct. 14. – Press will use line as suggested. Utica has an Unconditional Surrender Club.

Colorado Springs Gazette

Colorado Springs, Col., Oct. 14. – The Gazette is carrying “unconditional surrender” line suggested by you, and will continue to do so. There is no Unconditional Surrender Club here, and no new organizations are being formed, owing to influenza epidemic.

Muncie Star

Muncie, Ind., Oct. 14. – Will carry “unconditional surrender.” No club here.

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune

CINCINNATI, Oct. 14. – Include us in use of historic head. No club, here but there will be one. Cincinnati will never again be German. Citizens stood on streets waiting for President’s answer, and with grim faces and set jaws gave the American answer: “Cincinnati will never stop till Germany is beaten beyond recovery, it must not be peace. It must be unconditional surrender.” You cannot make it too strong. Cincinnati has no fear of anything German.

Germany surrender political cartoon from 1918 WWI

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Seattle, Wash.. Oct. 14. – The Post-Intelligencer gladly joins you in the “unconditional surrender.” Seattle has a club.

Louisville Herald

Louisville, Oct. 11. – The Louisville Herald has insisted from the first that the only answer to Germany’s note should be “unconditional surrender,” and we will reiterate this at the top of our first page from day to day. The Unconditional Surrender Club of Louisville is daily adding hundreds of members to its roster, and the little red, white and blue button of the club is seen everywhere.

San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco, Oct. 15. – The Chronicie is using “Unconditional surrender” line on first page. No club here yet. There will be.

Indianapolis News

Indianapolis, Oct. 14. – Indianapolis Unconditional Surrender Club, 5,000 strong, supports Wilson’s answer.

Cleveland News

Cleveland, Oct. 16. – Got the Unconditional Surrender Club going fine here. Launched Tuesday noon at the principal open-air Liberty Loan meeting in the Public Square; 4,000 members. Can you file us tonight sure brief summary of the progress of the movement?

Hawaii - Unconditional surrender club - WWI 1918

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