April 27, 1914


Becky Edelson, Tempted by Chocolates, Falls Before Beefsteak, Soup, and Toast.


Agitators in Conference Call Prisoner a Martyr and Arrange to Seek Her Freedom Today

Bonbons and diplomacy, according to B.G. Lewis, Deputy Commissioner of Correction, broke Becky Edelson's hunger strike--the first in this country--yesterday morning. her fellow agitators in the ranks of the I.W.W., the Army of the Unemployed and the Anti-Militarists didn't know it, and she was called a martyr to the cause at a joint session of members of the executive committees of the organizations in the Ferrer School, 63 East 107th Street, in the afternoon.

Miss Edelson began her hunger strike in the Tombs on Friday, after going to prison in preference to allowing herself to be put under $300 bond to refrain from public speaking whenever ordered to do so by the police. Friday night's supper she gave to a fellow prisoner. Saturday morning she was hungry but determined.

Dr. Katherine B Davis, Commissioner of Correction, left for Omaha to attend the Nebraska State Conference of Charities, leaving Miss Edelson's case in the hands of Deputy Commissioner Lewis. On Saturday afternoon Mr. Lewis had her transferred to the old Queens County Jail in Long Island City. he and Warden Selech decided that diplomacy should be used before the English method of forcible feeding was resorted to and Mr. Lewis sent two boxes of bonbons, together with some ice-cold milk, to the hungry woman. Warden Selech also was advised to argue with her and tell her that by weakening herself physically she was vitiating her power to help her cause.

Miss Edelson, he said expressed surprise at the good treatment accorded her and then, after furtively nibbling one of the bonbons, at the quality of the chocolates new York supplies its prisoners. She would not take substantial food , and argued that she wanted to starve do that her death would rest on the conscience of Magistrate Simms. 

Her determination was weakened yesterday morning by the aroma of broiled beefsteak, toast and soup, and according to the matron, it was a remarkably short time after the edibles had been left in her cell that the platters were empty. To Miss Edelson were given mere bonbons for dessert, and she ate tow more hearty meals.

At the conference in the Ferrer School, Alexander Berkman, anarchist, announced that the National Free Speech League would make an effort today to procure a rehearing of Miss Edelson's case and that Justus Sheffield, the lawyer who has represented other agitator arrested recently, will try to have her released on bail.

"I should not be surprised if others of our speakers, in case they are arrested will follow her noble example," he said. "Every one at the conference thinks she is taking precisely the proper course."

Speaking for the Anti-Militarists, Berkman said plans were decided upon for curtailing future enlistment in the National Guard, army and navy.

"We shall start a movement to have labor organizations urge their members not to join any of these military bodies under any conditions," he said.

The Anti-Militarists at the conference decided to hold daily meetings at Franklin statue and other points and to hold a mass meeting in Mulberry Park on Friday.

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