July 21, 1899: “Newsboys Strike for Better Terms”

Newsboys Strike for Better Terms

Several Hundred Lads Refuse to Sell the Evening World and the Evening Journal.

Shout for the Telegram

Object to Paying War Prices for Newspapers a Year After the War Has Ended

Fruit for Arrested Striker
On a Previous Occasion the Boys Struck, and Refused To Be Run over by Silver.

Unwilling long to pay more for the Evening World and the Evening Journal than they considered them worth, several hundred newsboys yesterday struck and refused to sell those newspapers. The boys objected to paying war prices for the newspapers, and decided to adopt vigorous measures as a reminder to the publishers that the Cuban war has ended. This is the second time in the last fifteen months that the boys have refused to handle these newspapers.

Soon after the blowing up of the Maine the cost of the Evening World and the Evening Journal to the newsboys also was blown. Before the way the newsboys paid fifty cents a hundred for their papers, but with the war the publishers raised the price to sixty cents a hundred. When Santiago and the war circulation fell, these newspapers still maintained their war prices to the newsboys, who decided yesterday to adopt decisive measures.


Surmising that the largest type would adorn the pages of these two newspapers yesterday, because of the street railroad troubles, the boys decided that this would be their most opportune time. Armed with staves, they formed in line and marched in line and marched down Centre street, passing around the City Hall on the way to the offending newspaper offices. They shouted early and often, and policemen several times dispersed the crowd, but the lines of the strikers quickly were reformed.

When the early editions of the evening newspapers were offered to the boys they refused to buy. They demanded a return to the prices that prevailed prior to the war. The circulation managers refused. The newsboys, filled with indignation, coffee and butter cakes, made a rush for the distributing agents, taking from them bundles of the Evening World and the Evening Journal, and scattering the newspapers about the streets. They attacked every boy who presumed to sell the newspapers, tore up his wares and routed him. Every little news vender [sic] south of Fifty-ninth street who escaped a trouncing was a member of the Newsboys’ Union.

The strike extended as the day wore on. To Jersey City, Long Island City and other points the disaffection spread. To emphasize their earnestness they bought hundreds of extra copies of the Telegram, and found customers for all the copies they could get.


The boys down town formed in line early in the afternoon and marched to Wall street. There they were greeted with many cheers, and the parade finally was stopped by a band of brokers, who showered coins on the heads of the lads. For a time they drove the curb brokers from their usual stands.

“What’s the matter with the Telegram?” the boys shouted.

“It’s all right!”

“Hurrah for the Telegram!”

With these and similar shouts the boys marched through the financial district.

The police made several arrests in connection with the strike during the day. The prisoners were Moses Burns, eleven years old, of No. 330 Cherry street; John J. Alleppe, thirteen years old, of No. 58 Mulberry street; Louis Kerllow, sixteen years old, of No. 159 East Broadway; A. J. Klock, twenty-three years old, of No. 249 East Fiftieth street, and Bertha Saffe, twenty-three years old, of No 364 East Eighth street. Burns and Alleppe were turned over to the Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Children, and Kerllow was committed by Magistrate Cornell to the Juvenile Asylum for six months.


Klock gave an armful of the boycotted papers to the Saffe woman at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, when a band of the strikers precipitated a row. Klock and the woman were arrested, but Magistrate Cornell discharged both.

Disapproving the action of his associates, Milo Green, fifteen years old, a newsboy living at No. 470 Seventh avenue, laid in a stock of the boycotted papers and started out to sell them last night at Thirty-sixth street and Broadway. His action soon became known to the strikers, who swooped down upon him fully fifty strong. Green was being severely beaten when Hugh Coleman, a lawyer, went to the rescue. He drove away the strikers with his cane and held them at bay until a policeman arrived.

Emil Kahune, a striker, who refused to give his address, was arrested and taken to the West Thirtieth street police station. A crowd of newsboys followed him, cheering him lustily all the way. At the police station the youngsters carried him large quantities of candy and fruit, and when he was led away to the rooms of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children his mouth was full of delicacies.

The strike became so formidable early in the day that the stock of arbitration advice in one of the offices affected was taken down from the shelves and brushed off. Unless the trouble is speedily ended it is expected that a committee of distinguished citizens will accept invitations to arbitrate the dispute. The boys made it known yesterday, however, that they would consent to no such course.

“We have nothing to arbitrate,” they declared, and the added that, even if the dispute should be submitted to a committee of distinguished citizens who have no authority to settle it, the committee of distinguished citizens would have to admit that the Cuban war has ended.

At various points down town the striking newsboys displayed placards bearing such inscriptions as “Down with the World and Journal!” “Down with the Yellow Journals!” “Now Is the Time to Arbitrate!”


There have been several previous disagreements between the newsboys and the Evening World and the Evening Journal. The most serious one took place in May, 1898, when these newspapers were sinking Spanish fleets every seven minus and destroying Spain’s power in Cuba six times an hour. In addition to this work, the newspapers found time to raise their prices to the newsboys to sixty cents a hundred, and the boys rebelled.

The boys made such a vigorous fight at that time that the proprietor of one of the papers affected got a large quantity of quarters and dimes and, taking a hansom cab, drove into the enemy’s country. As soon as the striking lads discovered that he came laden with a fellow feeling and some silver they received him enthusiastically.

A shower of silver then descended upon their heads. But after the proprietor’s silver supply was exhausted and he insisted on keeping to the old rate the strikers renewed the boycott and were kept busier than ever selling the Evening Telegram.

Source: “Newsboys Strike for Better Terms.” New York Herald, 21 July 1899, p. 7.