Tag Archives: 19th century
The news boys' school-room

The News Boys are Worth Saving

The news-boy is said to be a type of American independence, and however much we may object to some of his characteristics, still we must confess to the resemblance. From his earliest infancy the news-boy is accustomed to depend upon himself. His first recollection of home is a ceaseless struggle for something to eat. When other children are in the nursery or the playground, he is trafficking and peddling in the streets; his scanty meal depending upon his daily success. As he advances in years, his intellects prematurely gain development; he is quite precocious in his comprehension of debit and credit; and he is grown into a man of business, while other lads, of a more favored class, are spinning tops and flying kites.

Elbowing his way through jostling crowds, and gaining a market for his wares by the mere force of his lungs, he acquires a wonderful aptitude in the tricks of trade; and early becomes a match for his older exemplars in business, and can detect a “green one” with instinctive intuition.

He can rival our most enterprising editors in investing old news with the air of novelty; and a trick practiced upon a stranger, is quite a subject of delectation to his accommodating conscience. With a habit of forecast which has grown into second nature, he scrupulously reserves a floating capital sufficient to start in business with on the following day; he is essentially self-helping; the Insolvent Debtor’s Act offers no “benefit” to him. Bankruptcy presents him with no escape from pecuniary obligations; a failure in business to the news boy is followed by the penalty of unsatisfied hunger, or a dwelling in the vagrant’s cell.

His habits of living are regulated by the amount of his disposable capital. If he is put to it he can live upon sixpence a day; but when his earnings are more liberal, his keen zest for enjoyment finds a ready requirement for all surplus revenue. He takes his meals in coffee cellars and eating houses, and he makes his lodgings wherever he can find a nook; in an entry, in an empty packing-box, in a wagon, or in the alleys and streets that abound in the vicinity of the various newspaper offices. Sunday is his harvest day, and frequently he will realize a dollar by the pursuit of a calling which so scandalizes the devout. With this fund in his possession he feels all his importance: he must go to “the Play,” or have a grand supper, or visit the Long Island Races, or gamble, or have a run to Hoboken, or get up a “spree.” So long as the “M. P’s.,” (Metropolitan Police) and the missionaries let him alone, and he has his floating capital secure to begin the morrow with, he is indifferent to all earthly matters.

He is naturally rough, and the kicks and cuffs of the world have not tended peculiarly to mollify him; he has received no kindness from the human race, and he has no internal impulse to render any show of gentleness in return. His life has been past in learning the great lesson of self-help, and he has learned very little else that is good. The world has never shown any care for him, and, to use his own expression, he does not care “a pig’s foot” for the world. He is conscious that in one of the underlying strata of this great city– far down, to be sure–he is needed; and there is a living for him to be acquired by his natural sharpness. He does not look for help– and indulges in no morbid sentimentalities upon his “unhappy lot.”

Churches and schools he has but little acquaintance with. How should he? What opportunity has ever been afforded him to derive benefit from either? It has been with him, twenty-five per cent profit or a turn in the Tombs as a vagrant. Yet our news-boys manifest many kindly and generous traits. We have known their last pennies, when bankruptcy was imminent, to be shared with a distressed mate. They frequently display a laudable thirst for knowledge. Those engaged in the newspaper offices are frequently applied to by these boys, to inquire after teachers in order to learn to read. And who doubts that there is something in them, in spite of their humble life, which reaches out toward the Unknown and the Eternal. Vague passing instincts perhaps, a breath, a mere aspiration; –yet an evidence of that soul–solemn and immortal, which lives in the poorest outcast boy, as in the best and most cultured of society.

Such lads as these are WORTH SAVING. Many would make keen, industrious, enterprising men. Give them a chance to learn; get them out of their vagrant, homeless habits; show them that there are some in the world who take an interest in their welfare, and are trying to bring some of the great influences which are everywhere redeeming society, to bear even on them, and see whether the news boys will not turn out a due proportion of good citizens.

The News Boys’ Lodging-House, No. 128 Fulton Street, corner of Nassau, was established by the members of the Children’s Aid Society, March 18th 1854, C. C. Tracy being appointed superintendent. The object is to provide for homeless boys; the charity, however, has been more particularly absorbed for the location of the building by lads, who are engaged in selling newspapers and periodicals.

The News Boy’s Schoolroom

The first apartment is known as the school-room (see illustration at the top of this page),  and is fitted up with writing-desks so arranged, that they can be moved aside in case a lecture is delivered. Here the boys congregate in the evening. Here is a free library of some three hundred instructive volumes, also a pair of splendid globes presented by Ayres and Fairbanks, of Boston, also an abundance of writing-paper, slates, black boards, newspapers, musical instruments; the walls are adorned with maps and pictures. Behind the melodeon (a type of button accordion), which is a very fine instrument, is a case containing some fifty daguerreotype portraits of news-boys, and it would be difficult the world over to find the same amount of character in the same number of faces. The extreme end of the room is occupied by the office of the superintendent and the wash-house, between which is the sliding-door opening into the lodging-room.

News-boys' Savings Bank

News-boys’ Savings Bank

The prominent object, however, is the which is a heavy table, on the top of which are one hundred and ten openings that communicate with an equal number of little boxes, arranged in the table-drawer. Each opening is numbered, and the news-boy selects one, into which, from time to time, through the week, he deposits his surplus change. Once a week the drawer is opened, and every boy is at liberty to draw out “his pile.” Upon the arrival of this momentous evening a good number of the boys gathered at the rooms, and there was great excitement in prospect of the first opening of the bank.

Mr. Tracy was expecting some friends to be present on the occasion, and hoped to induce the lads to deposit in the Six-penny Bank; and accordingly waited some time–the boys growing gradually more impatient, and filling up the time in all sorts of sharpshooting.

“I move that the boy as has most tin in the bank gives a treat of oysters to all the rest,” said one little boy, mounted on a desk–a proposition which excited immense applause.

“I move coffee and cakes.”

“I go for that.”

“Half-past seven, Mr. Tracy.”

“Hold your hats!”

“Ready now?” etc..

Then, from all the large boys, “Oh now keep order–can’t you? Don’t you see, Mr. Tracy wants order? Order! Order! ” until the cries for order were rather more uproarious than were the cries of disorder before.

Mr. Tracy –“All the boys be seated now!”

Older boys to the smaller–” You keep order there!”

Mr. Tracy — “Now, boys, I will call the numbers, but I propose that Mick counts the money!” “No, no, sir–let every boy finger his own money here!” arose in a shout. “No. 1?” “Absent–gettin’ his dinner!” “No. 2?” “Here I be, sir!” “No. 3?” “Gone dead!” “No. 4?” “At his country-seat, gettin’ his winter lodgin’!” ( i. e . House of Refuge.) “No. 7?” “Gone to heaven!” “No 8?” “My eyes!–what a stock of pennies Barney has!–count it!–there’s an English ha’penny!–hurry up! two dollars two shillings!–No. 8 has got a check for the poor house!” “I make a move,” says Barney, having got his own money, “that the bank be closed!” at which there was a general laugh. “No. 12?” “Go ahead!–gone to sleep!” “No. 18?” “Don’t hurry the boy! Let him count his money! Put on your shirt, Paddy; han’t you got your money now?”

This kind of running fire was kept up during the whole time, the boys being in the greatest excitement. Some were found to have as high as $10 to $11 in the bank, and total amount drawn was about $69.

The Lodging Room

This room is lighted and ventilated by windows on three sides, containing fifty beds with room for thirty more. For all the advantages which the news-boy enjoys he is charged nightly six cents, and it is almost impossible to comprehend the real good which is accomplished by this most excellent charity.

News-Boys' Sleeping Apartment

News-Boys’ Sleeping Apartment

Discipline is easily enforced among their rude spirits, and an appeal to their natural sense of justice has never been made by the superintendent that has not been responded to with cheerfulness, and however rude and careless these off-shoots of civilization and literature may be in their general conduct in the streets, they show that there is much good in their composition, and that under more favorable circumstances they would give promise of growing into good men.

The Results of this Experiment

This institution has now been in operation about one year and nine months, and is no longer considered an experiment by its founders, but by blending amusement with instruction has become popular with the boys, and singularly successful in winning them from their former habits, and in doing them good.

During the first year there were 408 different boys at the rooms, and 6,872 lodgings furnished. The usual number of lodgers in winter is, from 25 to 40. They come regularly to the evening school, and the informal religious meeting on Sunday evenings. The “Savings Bank” has proved very attractive and instructive to the boys, while they have been learning to save their money. At first the idea of their saving money seemed to them vague and impracticable. They knew they could earn money quite easy, and sometimes a pocket full; and they knew too, that they could spend it fast , but to save it was something they were quite strangers to, and in fact could see but little use in it. They were brought on however, step by step till they passed a resolution unanimously to close the Bank for one month, and on the 1st of Nov. 1854, twenty-four boys took out, as we have already described, the sum of $79.00.

Up to this time, they have saved of their little surplus earnings over $600, which has generally been well spent for clothing and such other things as they needed most. The news-boys now, though not models of propriety, are certainly greatly improved from what they were when the lodging rooms were first opened, and the enterprise is worthy of encouragement from the public.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, founded in 1855 and continued until 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.

Source: Frank Leslie’s Weekly, December 29, 1855

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Spottsylvania

The Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House

The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, sometimes more simply referred to as the Battle of Spotsylvania (or the 19th century spelling Spottsylvania), was the second major battle in Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign of the American Civil War.

Fighting occurred on and off from May 8 through May 21, 1864, as Grant tried various schemes to break the Confederate line. In the end, the battle was tactically inconclusive, but with almost 32,000 casualties on both sides, it was the costliest battle of the campaign.

From Frank Leslies Weekly, June 11, 1864:

The spot seen in our engraving is one on the right and centre of Grant’s line, hereafter to be famous, having been repeatedly the scene of fierce strife, as the battle swayed to and fro. Here we give it, as sketched by our Artist, at a moment when our men were lying down, with skirmishers in the advance taking cover, while the enemy is firing from his rail barricade. Here a desperate contest took place.

The Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House - Frank Leslies Weekly, June 11, 1864

The Battle of Spottsylvania Court-House – Frank Leslies Weekly, June 11, 1864

As a sequel to this we give a view of the 5th corps’ hospital on the field, and another of wounded soldiers crossing the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg, after this battle, a few of the many thousands who in sad procession streamed from the battlefield, some to be seized by rebel citizens and sent off to Richmond; some to be waylaid by guerillas, and left out amid a pitiless storm without food or means of advancing.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, founded in 1855 and continued until 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.
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VA Senate Chambers

Isaac H. Christian’s Political Platform

CHARLES CITY COUNTY, APRIL 1st, 1861.

To the People of New Kent, Charles City, James City, York, Warwick, Elizabeth City and the City of Williamsburg:

I published, during the month of October last, in the Richmond Whig, a card, indicating that I would be a candidate, at the ensuing election, to represent you in the Senate of Virginia.

Since that time, the whole political aspect of the country has changed, and it becomes me to announce to you my position as to the course that Virginia should have taken in the crisis which is upon her. I conceive that there is but one practical question in all this matter, to-wit: Where will she go? There are two Confederacies. One is her natural ally – with equal sympathies, similar institutions, and interests alike – the other is the avowed enemy of her domestic peace. One invites her with open arms and a full heart; the other repulses her overtures of conciliation and compromise with insult added to injury. She must decide – not which she will serve – but which she will encourage, protect end defend. For myself, I do not hesitate. I would have her unite her destiny, for weal or woe, with that of her Southern sisters and briefly, for these, among many reasons:

  1. The prosperity and progress of the Southern States depend upon the permanency of the Institution of African slavery.
  2. The permanency of this institution depends upon a present and final settlement of the question by placing it entirely under the control of the South.
  3. That control can never be acquired in a government, a large majority of whose people have been tutored to believe that slavery is a curse, and that they are responsible for its existence.
  4. The whole moral power of the State will be thrown into the scale of the institution. Her people will be united in its defence, and the question of Virginia emancipation left to be discussed when many generations have passed away.
  5. The commercial depression that afflicts a country will continue and culminate in rule if an adjustment is not speedily effected. Can Virginia hope for this by temporizing with those of whom she seeks redress?
  6. Many of the advantages of the old Government will be secured by treaty, etc…, whilst the cause of strife will be removed.
  7. The honor of Virginia, her past fame, her present high character, and promise of future power demand that she shall take this step.

She will by so doing preserve the peace of the country. A united South will not be warred upon by the Republican horde at Washington. Virginia will carry with her the border States, and when they, with her, shall have added eight more stars to the flag at Montgomery then will the question of peace or war, of prosperity or depression have been settled.

I hope to be able to discuss this question throughout the District. Allow me to add, in yielding to the wishes of my friends by thus announcing myself as candidate for this important post, that, if elected, I shall strive to reward your confidence by an earnest devotion to your interests and Virginia.

Very respectfully, etc…,

Isaac H. Christian
April 16, 1861

Part I of our Civil War collection, A Newspaper Perspective, contains articles gleaned from over 2,500 issues of The New York Herald, The Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer, published between November 1, 1860 and April 15, 1865.

According to the 1860 census, Isaac H. Christian owned three slaves.  After the war he was nominated as and appointed judge of the county courts of New Kent and Charles City counties in Virginia.

Source

Collection: The Civil War
Publication: Richmond Enquirer
Date: April 18 , 1861
Title: Charles City County, APRIL 1st, 1861.

Top image: View in Virginia Senate Chamber, looking from the north – Virginia State Capitol, Bank and 10th Streets, Capitol Square, Richmond

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Stove

Cookery in Schools – March, 1876

The question of teaching cookery in the public schools has lately been much considered in England, and arrangements have been made by which the object can be effected. The National Training School for Cookery has been for some time in successful operation, and is now prepared to supply teachers qualified to instruct in this novel branch of school learning. The course pursued at present is for a number of the inhabitants of several adjoining school districts to form by subscription a fund sufficient to guarantee a certain rate of payment to the teacher. Sometimes a young lady of the locality is first sent to the Training School to take a course of instruction there, sufficient to qualify her for a teacher. At other times a teacher already qualified is obtained from the Training School.

Cooking ClassThe teacher gives one lesson a week in each school to a class of girls whose parents are willing to pay a small fee for this advantage. She may also, in addition, form classes of ladies who desire to improve their knowledge of cookery, and who, pay a higher fee for the more elaborate instruction they receive. In this way a great number of persons are benefited, and the instructress receives an income which may be sufficient; but, if not, it is supplemented from the subscription fund in the hands of the committee. Sometimes a separate school or class specially for cookery is established.

A writer in one of the London papers gives an interesting account of such a school, which has been opened in that city for teaching the children of the poorer classes the simple elements of cookery, and to enable them to prepare cheap and savory dishes for the sick and invalid. About fifteen girls attend— all that the room will accommodate. They pay threepence a lesson, and get besides a dinner of their own cooking. The school is held every Saturday, from ten to four. The pupils first go to market, a few of the girls in turn accompanying the teacher, to learn how to select the articles of food, and to judge of their quality and the proper price to pay for them. On their return, the proper modes of cooking the articles are briefly explained, and a written receipt is given to each girl, who is required to work from it. The teacher, of course, superintends the whole, pointing out defects, and taking care that the pupils are made to understand the virtues of forethought, neatness, and good management. There are usually visitors present, often the clergymen and other members of the committee, who all sit down with the pupils to the dinner which has thus been prepared. After this satisfactory part of the duty has been performed, four of the girls in turn are appointed to wash the dishes and make everything tidy.

(more…)

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socrates-plato

Never Too Old to Learn

We extract the following from an article which appeared some months since in the Portland Orion, which forcibly illustrates, by a reference to well authenticated facts, that man is never too old to learn.

Socrates, at an extreme old age, learned to play on musical instruments. This would look ridiculous for some of the rich old men in our city; especially if they should take into their heads to thrum a guitar under a lady’s window; which Socrates did not, but only learnt to play upon some common instrument of his time – not a guitar – for the purpose of resisting the fear of old age.

Cato, at eighty years of age, thought proper to learn the Greek language. Many of our young men, at thirty and forty, have forgotten even the alphabet of a language, the knowledge of which was necessary to enter college. A fine comment upon their love of letters, truly!

Plutarch was between seventy and eighty, when he commenced the study of the Latin.

Boccaccio was thirty years of age when he commenced his studies in polite literature; yet he became one of the three great masters of the Tuscan dialect, Dante and Petarch being the other two.

Sir Henry Spelman neglected the sciences in his youth, but commenced the study of them when he was between fifty and sixty years old. After this time, he became the most lerned anti-quarian and lawyer.

Duplessis portrait of Ben Franklin

Colbert, the famous French Minister, at sixty years of age, returned to his Latin and Law studies.

Dr. Johnson applied himself to the Dutch language but a few years before his death.

Franklin did not fully commence his philosophical pursuits, till he had reached his fiftieth year.

Dryden, in his sixty-eighth year, commenced the translation of his Iliad, and his most pleasing productions were written in his old age.

We could go on to cite thousands of examples of men who commenced a new study, and struck out into an entirely new pursuit, either for livelihood or amusement, at an advanced age. But every one familiar with the biography of distinguished men, will recollect individual cases enough to convince him that none but the sick and indolent will ever say, I am too old to learn.

Source

Collection: African American Newspapers
Publication: The North Star
Date: February 18, 1848
Title:  Never too old to learn
Location: Rochester, New York

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.
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