July 21, 1899: “Newsboys Go On Strike”

Newsboys Go On Strike

They Want the Old Price of Two Evening Newspapers Restored

“All about de newsboys’ strike!” was the cry that greeted pedestrians along Park Row yesterday as the small vendors pushed toward them bunches of afternoon sheets. “We sell ’em all ‘cept World ‘n Journal,” they shouted.

The strike of the newsboys was due to the fact that The Evening World and Evening Journal would not reduce their price from 60 to 50 cents per hundred. The price was raised to 60 cents at the outbreak of the war when papers were in great demand, and the newsboys thought it time it was lowered. Word was circulated Wednesday night that there was to be a general strike the next morning, and before noon the fun had begun in earnest. Cries of “Scab! scab!” followed the few who dared to handle the forbidden papers, and before long few of them were to be found on the streets. Several affrays of minor importance resulted from the affair.

In the Wall Street district the strike was voted a nuisance by many because of the noisy demonstrations for which the most important business points were selected. During the morning many boys attempted to sell Evening Worlds and Journals all over the financial quarter, and a dozen scrimmages at one moment were features of Wall, Broad, and lower Nassau Streets. The strikers won in every instance, and many of the papers at which the strike was aimed were torn up and littered the pavements.

The police appeared to have been called away to trolley strike duty, as there was little interference with the boys except at the places where the wagons made deliveries. Here the crowds of striking boys were scattered. They claimed that only a few papers were sold. It was, however, possible to obtain copies of the boycotted newspapers in many places, but the vendors of them were as a rule stalwart youths able to cope with any mob of small boys.

At the Custom House the boys were encouraged to further endeavor to secure financial recognition of the cause by a looker-on throwing among them a handful of small change to be scrambled for. The zeal of the youngsters to secure the money was so riotous that pennies, nickels, dimes and even quarters were showered on the demonstrators from sidewalks and windows. In this way the strikers pocketed a gain far ahead of their average daily earnings.

H. H. Kuehn, a striking newsboy, fifteen years old, was arrested last night for tearing up some newspapers belonging to another boy at Thirty-fourth Street and Sixth Avenue. At the West Thirtieth Street Station House he refused to give his address. Before the Gerry Society agent arrived a number of the prisoner’s comrades went to the station house with large quantities of fruit and candy for him. When Kuehn was taken to the Gerry society headquarters a large number of the boys followed him.

When the Jersey City newsboys were notified that their brethren in this city had struck they held a meeting at the ferry, at the foot of Exchange Place, and decided not to sell Journals and Worlds. The wholesale dealers tried to persuade them to abandon their resolution, but the boys were steadfast. Those who wanted Journals and Worlds could find them at some of the news stands, but no boy had them for sale.

Source: “Newsboys Go on Strike.” The New York Times, 21 July 1899, p. 2.