July 23, 1899: “Newsboys’ Word Stands”



The culminating point in the newsboys’ strike was reached last night. A “dodger” announcing a mass meeting to be held in Frankfort-st. was circulated in the afternoon, and soon after 7 o’clock the crowd began to gather. It was a picturesque assemblage and a noisy one. Little boys barely able to toddle made up for their lack of size by carrying large sticks with placards affixed announcing the strike and calling upon the public to support it. The meeting resolved itself into a “free for all” march to the Battery and up through Broadway.

Every time a police man appeared the lads made a quick dash through the nearest alley, but reappeared again as soon as the danger was past. On the line of march a convenient sand and rock pile attracted the boys, and their pockets were soon bulging with the ammunition they could not carry in hands, already overfilled. A distributing wagon operated by one of the proscribed papers came along, and with a cry of exultation the newsboys flocked down on it. The driver whipped up his horse, but the stones rattled against the wagon and the pretty pictures on its sides.

“Kid” Blink, one of the leaders of the strike, stood in Frankfort-st., and his eyes shone with joy.

“It’s great,” he said; “dey can’t beat us. Me nobul men is all loyal, and wid such as dese to oppose der neferarious schemes how can de blokes hope to win?”

He pointed up the street to a crowd of strikers who were busy making history. A big fellow who looked well able to take care of himself had just come from the counting room of one of the boycotted papers. Under his arm he had a bundle of extras. Two of the strikers approached and began to argue with him, and in the mean time several others made a quick flank movement. In about two minutes the extras had passed into the hands of the enemy, and the big fellow turned just in time to see his tattered stock flying in all directions.

“He don’t lose anything,” continued the “Kid,” “‘coz why? He’s hired by de pae to make a bluff. A man wot’ll take a job like dat is worse ‘en a Spaniard. An’, say, dat’s erbout de limit, see! Dat’s de feller wot made de fight yistiddy. You see, he came out de same way, and after de gang had copped his papes he goes up an’ de editor breads off de leg of his table and gives it to him fer a club. but me men lays fer him wen his blinkers was droopin’, an’ de club’s now found a poimanint restin’ place in de arkhives of de union. Have yer met me corp’ral? Shake hands wide de representative uv a sure ’nuff noospape. Say, de corp’ral’s all right! He’s a whole reg’ment hisself. Did yer hear how we done up de scabs dis mornin’? No? Well, it happens dis away. Me and de corp was feelin’ our blinks to see how de land lay, when two mugs comes outen dat office down dere, and from de way der coats bulged I knowed dey was hidin’ somethin’. I blowed me toot, and it didn’t take more’n a hinit to get de gang onto it. De scabe had more’n a hundred papes consealt onto their persons, an’ say, you’d a tought you was in a snowstorm.

“Me an’ me corp an’ anoder of me men, wot his name is Skaggs, went to call on de guy what owns de paper last night. Wen we gets to de office a kid askes us our bizness. ‘Say,’ sez I, ‘just take me card and put it onto a silver tray and take it inter de boss. I ain’t in de habit of transachin’ my bizness wid no offiz boys.’ He started to talk, and I tole him to be mighty quick erbout it or I’d make him look like a stranger in his family.

“Skaggs’s pa keeps a restero on de East Side. He went us word dat if we needed anyt’ing we should come over and he’d treat with great hostility. He’s a nice man, an’ so is Skaggsy. Well, so long. I’ve got to review me forces. Some uv de boys needs pattin’ on de back.”

The assertations of teh leaders that the strike was stronger than ever appeared to be verified in all parts of the city yesterday. Wherever newsboys were met and questioned there was only one answer, and that was, “We’ll strike until they give us what we want.” Little fellows hardly able to do more than toddle along wore teh placards on their hats requesting the public not to buy the two papers.

“Tiny Tim,” who sells at Twenty-third-st. and Sixth-ave., was asked how long the strikers could hold out. “Ferever,” he answered, “and longer, if nesercery. I ain’t got no famerly to support, an’ I reckin der fellers wot has is makin’ just as much as dey did before.”

The good natured attitude of the public toward the strikers has helped their cause not a little. As a rule, people are satisfied to accept the papers that the boys are selling.

The following communication was set to The Tribune office yesterday. It is hardly a model of orthography, and if John Wilson expects to emulate the example of some great men who have risen from the ranks he will have to take a few innings with English grammar and a dictionary. The letter is printed because it will probably interest Tribune readers, and with no intention to enter into the merits of the dispute:

“For over a year the World and Journal have growned down the newsboys by making us pay 60 cts a hundred when 50 cts was a fair price and all we paid before. We have now boycotted their papers, don’t let us sell them again until they agree to make the price 40 cts for a year, which will just even up what we lost. If they are not satisfied then let us arbitrate the matter, they want the car men to arbitrate now what is the harm of them doing some arbitrating. Let us leave the matter if it shall be 40 or 50 cts to arbitration, that is the advice they give others and they should not object to their own medicine.


A number of arrests were made last night.

Source: “Newsboys’ Word Stands.” New-York Daily Tribune, 23 July 1899, p. 3.