July 22, 1899: “The Strike of the Newsboys”

The Strike of the Newsboys

Continues with Unabated Vigor and Spasmodic Attacks on So-Called “Scabs”—Women Not Molested.


“Please don’t buy the Evening Journal and World, because the newsboys has striked.”

“I ain’t a scab.”

These and similar notices were pinned on the hats and coats of newsboys all over the city yesterday, for the strike has spread from the Battery to the Bronx, and even across the Brooklyn Bridge. The Harlem newsboys have organized into a union, and a number of newsdealers there and in the Bronx have also refused to handle the barred “extries” or “uxtras.”

“Dere’s t’ree t’ousand of us, and we’ll win sure,” one of the boys declared.

Around the Journal and World offices big fellows, who perhaps inspired respect in the strikers by their stature, and who, besides, were protected by the police, offered the papers exclusively for sale. In Wall Street a crowd of boys started a parade soon after the Stock Exchange opened, but a big policeman broke it up and drove the urchins away whenever they attempted to gather. A crowd of a couple of hundred yelling youngsters paraded triumphantly along the Bowery shortly after noon and destroyed or cleared off the stock in trade on a few news stands where the boycotted papers were exposed for sale.

At Fifty-ninth Street and Ninth Avenue, which is one of the distributing points for evening paper wagons, a gang of boys gathered to demonstrate, and pelted two policemen who had been stationed there to protect the delivery carts.

Spasmodic attacks on so-called “scabs” were made during the day, notably in proximity to the World and Journal offices. The few weary-looking women who sell newspapers on Park Row and at the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge apparently are not participating in the strike, for they offered all the evening papers for sale, as usual. They passed unmolested through the lines of strikers, and, indeed, mingled with the boys and offered the barred papers for sale.

This was noticed by a passerby, whose inquisitiveness gave him a wholly unexpected insight into the chivalry that evidently enters into the make-up of the newsboys. He inquired of one of them why a woman was calling extra Worlds and Journals while none of the boys was selling them.

“That’s all right, boss,” was the reply. “We’re sorry, but we can’t help it. We ain’t fightin’ women.” The man gave him a dime.

In Harlem the boys sent a committee to see General Master Workman Parsons at his office, 110 East One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, and asked him to be their leader. He said he was pretty busy, but would receive a delegation to-morrow if they would send one and advise them. The committee then went out and met a policeman, who drove them off.

Source: “The Strike of the Newsboys.” The New York Times, 22 July 1899, p. 4.