July 25, 1899: “Newsboys Wage A Merry War”

Newsboys Wage A Merry War

Drive Men Who Attempt to Sell Boycotted Newspapers from the Field.

Thousands at Meeting.

Lads Lay in Wait Until Policemen Guarding Strangers Were Gone, Then Acted Swiftly.

Were Often Encouraged.

Noise and enthusiasm ruled the mass meeting of the Newsboys’ Union, in New Irving Hall, in Broome street, last night. Five thousand boys from Manhattan Borough who are boycotting two evening newspapers to obtain a reduction in wholesale rates were present, and they gave a squad of police all they could do.

During the meeting two thousand boys from Brooklyn arrived at the hall, and the police gave up in despair. Speeches by youthful leaders were wildly cheered and words from grown up sympathizers were given a hearty welcome.

There was a basket of flowers for the best boy orator, and “Kid” Blink won it. All the speakers declared that victory was in sight.

There was merry war yesterday between the newsboys and the newspapers whose products they are boycotting. In several instances the police had to plunge into struggling crowds of boys and separate the belligerents. The leaders of the boycott made the most determined effort yet to win their fight against the Evening World and the Evening Journal.

Men Failed at Task.

The boycotted newspapers to steps to have their newspapers offered for sale on the streets at any price. It was said that they hired men at $2 a day to do the work, but these men were driven from the street corners and were glad to escape without injury from the angry newsboys.

If a citizen wished to buy one of the boycotted newspapers he was besieged by lads who were selling another paper, and, recognizing the situation, he usually promptly purchased the one offered.

At 104th street and Columbus avenue the boys tacked upon an “L” pillar a sign stating what they were striking for. One of the lads was threatened by a stranger. There was a fight in progress in a minute and the stranger received a black eye. When the police arrived all was serene, however.

In some instances policemen guarded the men selling the boycotted papers, but even agents thus protected did not look happy and sales were apparently few.

Help from Brokers.

When the boys found one of their rivals away from the police there was sure to be trouble. In Wall street and in the dry goods district they harassed the new men and made their life miserable. The brokers in the “street” encouraged the boys in their method of warfare.

A crowd of strikers found one of the new men alone at the southwest corner of Madison square at noon. They took his papers from him and tore them up and then drove him away. Similar scenes were to be witnessed along many of the busy streets.

There were five hundred boys in an impromptu parade in Harlem last evening. They marched up Third avenue, confiscating every copy of the offending papers they could lay hands on. So boisterous did they become that the police broke up the ranks. They boys met again at Eighth avenue and 126th street, and, finding several men starting out with a supply of the boycotted sheets, pursued them until they sought cover.

The newsboys in Brooklyn are hardly less active than their comrades in Manhattan. They declare that the boycott is effective save in the outlying portions of the borough. Their leaders said last night that money was being collected to hire a brass band, to be used in serenading the offices of the papers.

Several of the more energetic boys in the two boroughs were arrested yesterday, charged with creating a disturbance.

Source: “Newsboys Wage A Merry War.” New York Herald, 25 July 1899, p. 7.