July 20, 1899: “Newsboys on Strike.”

Newsboys on Strike.

Few “Yellow Journals” Sold—Police Protection Asked.

Led by a fourteen-year-old lad, tow-headed and hatless, carrying a barrel stave in one hand, and the remnant of an Evening Journal in the other, a ragged crew of newsboys—all on strike against the “yellow journals”—emerged from Park Row and scooted down the middle of Broadway towards the Battery at ten o’clock this morning, darting in and out among the teams and cable-cars and shouting shrilly. Most of them carried sticks, like their leader, which they brandished fiercely, and those who possessed hat had them pulled down over one eye. Policemen on the cross-walks routed them ignominiously as they approached, but they would scatter in the crowd and assemble again, continuing their march towards the river front.

Occasionally squads of boys would leave the main body and swoop down upon the unsuspecting newsboys selling evening editions of the World and Journal in side streets. If caught, the victims’ stock of these papers would be confiscated and torn into bits. Then the assailants would calmly punch the offenders in the face and proceed on their march, shouting lustily: “We don’t sell no Worlds ‘r Journals! Hooray for d’ strike!”

“Them’s the dizzypliners, and we mean business,” said “Rasty” Alterwitch, aged twelve, who sells papers at the corner of Fulton Street. “We’s out to do any fellow what goes agin us. Blind Diamond leads dat gang, an’ we’s got gangs just de same from Forty-second Street to de BAttery.” At this juncture “Rasty” sold his last paper and followed after “de gang.”

The strike, if it can be called such, began this morning. The newsboys say they have refused to sell evening editions of the World or Journal because of a raise in price, which they claim is from fifty to seventy-five cents a hundred. The “strike” which the circulation departments of each paper sarcastically refer to as a “peanut kick,” seems to have spread over considerable territory, not only in New York, but in Long Island City and Brooklyn as well. It has extended to the proprietors of newsstands about Park Row, City Hall Square, and up town.

William Murray, who keeps a stand at the rear of the engine-house across the street from the bridge entrance, says it will make a difference in the sales of 450 of his papers, and a friend of his who keeps a stand in Forty-second Street cancelled his order this morning for 600 papers. The boys say the women who sell along Park Row have taken up their cause, and have refused to sell any more Worlds or Journals till they can buy them for the old price.

The attacks of the “committee on discipline,” as the newsboys call their assaulting party, finally became so fierce about the World and Journal offices this morning that two policemen were sent from the Oak Street police station to assist the officers on duty there in keeping the newsboys away. When the delivery-wagons drew up in front of the offices to carry the first editions about town, there was a noisy demonstration by the boys. Their presence and pugnacious attitude intimidated any new-comers who might have otherwise wanted to buy. The only ones, in fact, who sold Worlds and Journals about the corner of Franklin Street were big boys, whose age and size made them able to stand off the persistent young strikers.

The strikers give several names of newsboys who they say are their leaders. They are “Blind” Diamond, “Boots” McAleen, “Jack” Sullivan, “Louie” and “Monix.”

At the Oak Street station it was said that no arrest have been made, but it was reported at city hall park that two of the ringleaders had been captured by the police and turned over to the Gerry Society.

The strike was declared on in Long Island City and Astoria this afternoon. It was hard to buy Worlds and Journals there.

Source: “Newsboys on Strike.” Evening Post, 20 July 1899, p. 2.