July 21, 1899: “The Newsboys’ Strike.”

The Newsboys’ Strike.

Brooklyn Contingent Decides to Join in Boycott of Evening World and Journal.


The newsboys’ strike has assumed such ferocious proportions in Brooklyn that it means practical annihilation for the youngster who sells either of two New York evening papers. In the collapse of the car strike has come a forcible and organized protest among these newspapers which is characterized as “de real ting.” Over 400 boys in Brooklyn joined with the strikers this morning. Real bloodshed and violence came frequently.

The strikers, maneuvering their organization with wonderful system, appointed committees to meet the delivery wagons and every driver who dared defy the mob was bombarded with a choice collection of stones, with which the pockets of the rebellious youngsters bulged. Regular raids were made upon all packages of the Evening World or the Evening Journal, which appeared in Brooklyn and the strikers followed by a hord of sympathetic and howling gamins, made waste paper of the editions. Only four or five “scabs” peddled the tabooed prints on Washington or Fulton streets, usually the swarming place for the urchins. These haunted the shadow of the Manhattan policemen sent over here to preserve order during the car strike. Their footsteps were dogged by the strikers, who awaited an opportunity to “push out de eye” of somebody.

The strikers made their most determined stand near the Brooklyn end of the bridge. Here the pavement in some places was littered with the remnants of packages of the two afternoon papers. Placards were posted up in conspicuous places condemning the two afternoon papers.

“Kill de guy wot sell de xtras”

This was a notice pasted up on a bulletin board early in the morning. When it was torn down the press committee framed other shibboleths which are to be distributed in poster form.

The new civil service laws were issued this morning by the Eagle Library. The strikers turned their attention to the sale of these and by noon a large supply had been disposed of.

“Soak him! Scak him!” was the cry that came as Michael Romeo, an employe [sic] of the Journal, endeavored to distribute his payers on Washington street aboutu [sic] noon. A surging mass wielded their clubs in the air. Romeo, fearing the onslaught, drew a knife and with a few dexterous strokes forced the enemy to the gutter. Eddie Murphy, who apparently is leader of the strikers, knew less fear than his subordinates and rushed to meet the valiant Journal man, and with the skill of a Boer raised the club and brought it down swiftly and deftly on Romeo’s cranium. Romeo sustained a scalp wound.

Some of the boys have proposed arbitration to the Journal. They have named an arbitration commission of prominent citizens, which they say will meet the Journal’s commission at any time and place.

About 2 o’clock this afternoon a mob of strikers was arrested near the Eagle office. The patrol wagon was filled with them.

In Manhattan the Newsboys’ Boycott of the World and Journal Continues.

Down in Frankfort street there was a semblance of peace this morning, because of the presence of a dozen policemen, but the boys kept venders of the boycotted newspapers away just the same, and there wasn’t one on sale in the street. They dodged about, some of them selling other papers, and about half of them managing the boycott, carrying clubs strung to their wrists like night sticks, with here and there a big card on a boys hat, asking people not to buy the papers. There was no violence this morning.

A small but nervy boy in a blue shirt and with a black eye seemed to be the chief “master workman.”

“There’s too many cops around for any fun here, but we’ll fix ’em down in Wall street,” he said. He declared that there had been no come down in the price of the two papers to the boys. “When they does, we’ll win the strike,” he said.

Down in Wall street the boys started a parade about the time of the opening of the exchanges this morning, but were dispersed by a big policeman, who took their placards away from them.

Source: “The Newsboys’ Strike.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 21 July 1899, p. 2.