This Week Then: Looking Back on the End of World War I

Plus: Washington state turns 129
| Posted
 
 
Armistice Day parade in Pierce County in 1918

This story was originally published at HistoryLink.orgSubscribe to their weekly newsletter.

Welcoming the Armistice

One hundred years ago this week, World War I ended with the Armistice on November 11, 1918. While the war raged, many hoped it would secure democracy around the globe and be "the war to end all war." When America entered the three-year-old European conflict in April 1917, some 50,000 Seattleites showed their support with an impromptu parade. One local veteran of the Civil War even tried to enlist. Local housewives knitted clothing for the troops, many citizens in the San Juan Islands and elsewhere around the state pitched in to aid the war effort, and William Boeing scrambled to win his first defense contract.

Not everyone cheered the war. Most notably, members of the Industrial Workers of the World opposed it. One of them, Louise Olivereau, was sentenced to prison for advising potential draftees of their rights. Citizens of German and Austrian descent also found themselves under heightened scrutiny.

As the nation celebrated its first Armistice Day in 1919, World War I veterans in the new American Legion decided to evict the IWW from its office in Centralia. The Wobblies were ready, and four attackers were killed in the gun battle. An irate mob later hauled Wobbly Wesley Everest from the town jail and lynched him from a bridge over the Chehalis River. The "Centralia Massacre" is remembered today by a statue in the city's George Washington Park honoring the four slain Legionnaires -- overlooked by a newer mural celebrating Everest and the IWW.

On the third Armistice Day, November 11, 1921, the Seattle Garden Club planted the first 25 elm trees that line Des Moines Memorial Way South. Other communities held their own commemorations, and many have monuments in honor of their citizens who gave their lives in service of their country. In 1938 Armistice Day was officially made a legal public holiday. After so many more men and women served in World War II and the Korean War, the name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor veterans of all wars.

Happy Birthday, Washington

On November 11, 1889, Washington became a state when U.S. President Benjamin Harrison signed the bill admitting it into the Union. Territorial Governor Elisha P. Ferry received the good news via telegram from U.S. Secretary of State James Blaine, who stated that the proclamation was signed "at five o'clock and twenty-seven minutes this afternoon."

Washingtonians had been seeking self-governance for years. The region was made part of Oregon Territory, which was created in 1848, but folks living north of the Columbia River resented their distance from the territorial capital, located first at Oregon City but moved to Salem in 1851. Calls for a separate territory that started at a convention in 1851 led to the establishment of Washington Territory in 1853.

After Oregon became a state in 1859, Washington Territory was expanded to include all of Idaho and parts of Montana and Wyoming. President Lincoln severed these in 1863 when he signed legislation creating Idaho Territory and establishing Washington's current boundaries. Washington Territory's residents began their long campaign for statehood, but it was not until 1878 that the first bill to authorize it was introduced in Congress. Some argued that it made the most sense to divide the territory into two states along the crest of the Cascades (an idea that never quite dies), but Washington ultimately joined the Union in one piece.

NEWS THEN, HISTORY NOW

Cause for Celebration

Seattle got its start on November 13, 1851, when the Denny party landed at Alki Point, and the city has held numerous celebrations to mark the occasion.  On November 13, 1905, a monument was dedicated in West Seattle; on November 13, 1951, Murray Morgan's Skid Road was published as part of a city-wide centennial celebration; and on November 13, 2001, the Denny party landed again.

Re-incorporation

On November 11, 1875Columbia County was formed out of Walla Walla County, with Dayton as the county seat. Dayton officially became a city in 1877, but the incorporation was later nullified by a lawsuit over taxation. The city re-incorporated on November 10, 1881.

City Aggregation

On November 12, 1875, the Washington Territorial Legislature incorporated Tacoma. In 1881 a neighboring town, called New Tacoma, was also incorporated by the territorial legislature, and in 1884 a state law took effect that merged what had been Old Tacoma (also known as Tacoma City) and New Tacoma into a single entity.

Related Content

Plus: Lewis and Clark's journey to the Pacific Ocean

An Anacortes couple designs prosthetics from ocean plastic using a 3-D printer

Driving in the Seattle rain

As the soggy season returns, a few tips on how to safely navigate the city’s roadways