July 22, 1899: “Spread of Strike Fever Among Lads”

Spread of Strike Fever Among Lads

Newsboys Swell Their Ranks in Fighting the Evening World and the Evening Journal and Make Picturesque Demonstrations.

Messenger Boys Threaten to Quit Work

Two Thousand of Them, Demanding Half a Cent More for Each Message Delivered, Have Served Notice on Their Employers and May Go Out.

Under police protection several non-union newsboys made bold enough yesterday to offer the Evening World and the Evening Journal for sale in the streets. Despite the police, however, the strike of the newsboys against these two papers did not end. On the contrary, it gained strength, and nearly every person who bought an afternoon paper called for the Telegram.

The strike of the boys against longer paying war prices for peace papers became as vigorous in Brooklyn the Bronx, Long Island City, Jersey City, Newark and other places as in Manhattan. Several hundred boys who had attempted to sell the Evening World and the Evening Journal on the day before realized the difficulties of the situation and joined the strikers.

Demonstrations By The Strikers

The boys paraded in all parts of the city, surrounded non-union lads who tried to sell the boycotted papers without police protection, destroyed their wares and added the non-unionists to their ranks. They overturned news stands on which the “yellows” were offered for sale, and i n several instances surrounded delivery wagons and prevented the unloading of these two papers at distributing points.

The strikers made picturesque demonstrations in Herald square, at Sixth avenue and Twenty-third street and long the Bowery.



These were some of the placards which the strikers displayed in marching about the city. They proved effective. The public did not ask for the boycotted papers, but bought the Evening Telegram. At the news stands the demand for the Evening Telegram was so great that dealers had to triple and quadruple their orders.

Two hundred boys in Brooklyn met in an alley near the Bridge and formed a union, with “Half Dollar” Williams as president and “Micky” Ford and “Johnnie” Gallagher as vice presidents. The boys discussed their grievances against the yellow journals, and later distributed five thousand circulars, in which they said:–

Protect the newsboys, who work all day and sometimes all night. The Evening World and Evening Journal refuse us an opportunity to make even a fair profit.

There was a lively fight at the Grand street ferry early in the afternoon, as a result of which a non-union dealer was thrown into the East River for his temerity in offering the Evening World and the Evening Journal for sale. He was rescued promptly, but has not been selling the boycotted papers since.

Charged A Newspaper Wagon.

One of the liveliest incidents of the strike took place in Herald square early in the evening, when a wagon filled with yellow Journals made its appearance. Several hundred strikers were gathered in the vicinity and they charged upon the conveyance. Some of the boycotted papers were put out to be distributed, but the strikers looked after the distributing. They tore the papers into small bits and scattered them in every direction. The driver of the wagon improved his first opportunity to make a record breaking run up Broadway.

No settlement of the dispute between the newsboys and the Evening World and the Evening Journal was i prospect last night. The publishers still insisted on charging the boys the war time price of sixty cents a hundred for the papers. Great quantities of arbitration advice for others continued to be dispensed at the boycotted newspaper offices, but no action was taken looking to arbitration as a means of settling this strike.

At Forty-seventh street and Ninth avenue boys saw a one legged man ready one of the “yellow” journals. They grabbed his crutch, and then asked hi which he preferred too give up the crutch of [sic] the “yellow” journal. He chose to keep his crutch. One of the boys took the paper and danced on it, while the one legged man walked away.

Source: “Spread of Strike Fever Among Lads.” New York Herald, 22 July 1899, p. 7.