February 21, 1917


Storm New York City Hall to Ask Help in Obtaining Food

Boston Women Appeal to Gov McCall—No Relief in Sight, Says Expert

Food Situation in Brief

Boston women appeal to Gov McCall for aid in regard to high price of food. Governor says he is helpless.

Head of Chicago shippers says there is no relief in sight for high price of vegetables; declares potato crop 45,000,000 bushels short.

President Wilson to insist on $400,000 appropriation for investigation of high prices.

Hundreds of women storm New York City Hall, crying, "We are starving." Several arrests in food riots.

Special Dispatch to the Globe

NEW YORK, Feb. 20—Six demonstrations against the rising prices of meats, potatoes and onions, staple articles .of diet in the ghetto of New York, compelled police interference today at as many places on the East Side, Harlem and the Bronx.

They were capped by the appearance at. City Hall of between 400, and 500 women, who demanded audience with the Mayor. They were dispersed by the police, Mr Mitchel not being present.

Meetings held tonight gave birth to plans for further demonstrations tomorrow. Promise of .financial support from labor unions way given, and there was prophesy that "within three days" 500,000 housewives and children would invade Wall st to protest before the offices of J; P. Morgan against the holding up of foodstuffs by the railroads.

Plans are being laid, too, for a demand for an appropriation by the Board of Estimate of $1,000,000 [2013 CPI = $18.199,532] for the purchase of foodstuffs to be sold by the city until dealers bring down their prices.

There is widespread, although officially unfathered, discussion of plans for the spoiling of stocks of meats and vegetables by the use of kerosene. 

Ten Arrests Made 

Ten arrests were, made today, those taken into custody including "Sweet Marie" Ganz of 220 Delancey st, who has served jail sentences for her part in. I. W. W. demonstrations.

Whether the demonstration was not actually an I. W. W. plan was a topic of general discussion, but the evidence seemed to indicate that actual suffering on the East Side had inspired it.

Williamsburg and Brownsville were free from disorders today, though feeling…

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…still ran high in those sections of Brooklyn and there might have been repetitions of Monday's raids if the push cart men had not made it a no-business day.

Rival appeals are to be made to Mayor Mitchel as a result of a promise he made tonight to meet any orderly committee that might call on him.

Mrs Ida Harris of 83 Madison st, who led the march on the City Hall today, will make the first of the appeals at 12:30 tomorrow, when she will head a committee to be named tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock In Rutgers sq.

The descent upon the City Hall followed a meeting of 50 of the women with Abraham Cahan, editor of Vorwaerts, to whom they turned for counsel. Mr Cahan advised the women to start a demonstration.

When they reached the street they found several hundred of their fellows awaiting them, and they went to Rutgers sq to talk the situation over. The discussion was a babel. At length from someone came the cry, "We'll go to the City Hall now!" 

"We Want Bread, We Starve!" 

Only a leader was needed after that and Mrs Ida Harris, president of the Mothers' Vigilant League of the city of New York, became that leader. The police estimate that not fewer than 1000 women, many of them with children in their arms, or clutching their skirts, were in the straggling, noisy column.

"We want bread! We starve!" the women chanted as they wheeled into the plaza before the hall.

Their cries attracted perhaps 1500 persons by the time the leaders of the column wore beating at the iron gates of the hall.

Their clamor grew louder, and "Sweet Marie" Ganz addressed them in Yiddish. What she said was a subject of disagreement later, but it certainly did not soothe the women.

Police Lieut William Kennel, body guard to the Mayor, came out after a moment and addressed the crowd in German. He said the Mayor was not in his office—he was attending the "patriotism" luncheon of the Merchants' Association—but that a committee would be admitted to make a statement of what was wanted.

Few of the women heard Lieut Kennel, for their chant of "We want bread! We starve" went on without interruption. Finally a committee was chosen by the simple expedient of admitting the five nearest the door, including Mrs Harris and Miss Ganz. 

Police Roughly Used 

Police reserves were coming by that time from most of the downtown stations. The men suffered a. good deal more scratching and pummeling and tearing of clothes than it was easy to bear with entire good nature, but at the hall, as throughout the city, the men acted with forbearance.

Then Miss Ganz, made an appeal to the women from the steps of City Hall.

"Stay here till you're heard," cried "Sweet Marie.

Policemen tried to get the woman away, but she seemed to courting arrest, and finally she was taken into custody. She screamed that she would gladly go to jail and some of those who heard her tried to go to her rescue. But she was whisked inside the Hall while 50 policemen with six mounted men started the crowd away.

Miss Ganz was charged with disorderly conduct, and became less certain that she wanted to go to Jail. In the Tombs Court she told Magistrate Wylie she had been urging the women to go away until the next day. However, she was found guilty, but Magistrate Wylie suspended sentence.

Harlem and the Bronx saw the great disorder of the day. A well systematized boycott was under way there against dealers in potatoes and onions, and where marketers disregarded the pickets and bought, the push carts were overturned and the vegetables scattered and destroyed. 

Wreck Carts on East Side 

Self-constituted pickets undertook the enforcement of the boycott along 2d av, between 102d and 103d sts. They found the pushcart men doing little there, and went over to Park av. There peddlers were selling onions at 15 cents a pound and potatoes at 9 and 10 cents [2013 CPI: onions at $2.73 a pound and potatoes at $1.64 and $1.82 cents]. The pickets rushed them, pelted the men with their own vegetables, scratched their faces, tore their clothes and hair and drove them away yelling for mercy. Reserves from the East 104th st Police Station reached the place when little but wreckage remained.

There was turmoil all day on the East Side. Every street corner had its group of women discussing the situation and ready with figures to demonstrate the impossibility of keeping quantities were to be bought.

Weights and Measures Commissioner Hartigan today addressed a letter to all food and market commissioners of the country seeking for reports on crop prospects, on actual or contemplated action toward conservation of supplies and on plans for the organization of dealers and producers.

The commissioner says (hat the unrest In the Jewish quarters is due. not alone to the increase in prices of potatoes and onions, but to raises in the prices of Kosher meats. These have gone up this week from 14 to 17 and 18 cents a pound wholesale. [2013 CPI: from $2.55 to  $3.09 and $3.28] 


Gov McCall was the guest of the Worcester County Senators and Representatives at their annual dinner In the Quincy House last night and made short address, in which he said that it looks as though the legislators should see if they can't do something in defense of our own people. We are really living under war conditions and it's a question whether we can stand the ????? of the tremendous export of foods.

Senator Clarence W Hobbs of Worcester was toastmaster and other speakers were Judge Perley Hall of Fitchburg. Carl Raymond and Councilor Chandler Smith. The affair was in charge or Representatives George J. Brunell of Webster and John Hull of Leominster. 


President Will Insist on Appropriation at This Session to Investigate High Food Prices 

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 — One of the measures which President Wilson will insist upon as part of the program to be completed by Congress before it adjourns is the appropriation of $400,000 [2013 CPI: $7,279,812] requested by the Federal Trade Commission for an inquiry into high prices.

It became known tonight that the President is determined that the commission, which is making the investigation at his request, shall have ample funds for the work.

Considerable opposition has developed In the House, and the Appropriations Committee in reporting the Civil Sundry bill yesterday, failed to include the $400,000 asked for. It is expected that when the bill comes up for debate the item will lie introduced as an amendment, with the full backing of the Administration. 


Chicago Shipper Says Potato Crop Is 45,000,000 Bushels Short—Suggests Diminished Consumption

CHICAGO. Feb 20-The Federal Government's investigation into the food problem will open in Chicago soon, probably next week, according to United States Dist Atty Clyne, who has just returned from Washington.

Much evidence bearing on the food situation is said to have been gathered by agents of the Department of Justice. Some of it is said to have been heard by grand jurists.

T. P. Miller, president of the newly organized Fruit and Vegetable Shippers' Association, said today that no relief was in sight and that only diminished consumption could lower prices.

The whole State of Colorado now," said Mr Miller. "There should be at this season 3000 cars. Idaho has only 1200 cars, Oregon 250, and Washington 100, which is about one-third to one-fifth of their normal supply. And this supply is being rapidly shipped out. We had 60 cars yesterday, mostly from the West, and we relayed most of them as far east as Boston and as far south as Texas.

“Potatoes are retailing at 80 cents [2013 CPI: $14.56] a peck in Chicago and are said to be likely to go higher. The reason lies not only in the very short crop of last year, but in the added freight charges involved in bringing them from the Far West. In other years when the crop was short we imported them from Ireland, Belgium, Scotland and Germany.

"Many farmers, tempted by high prices, have sold their seed potatoes, and the result may be decreased acreage this year."

Mr Miller estimated that the present crop is short 45,000,000 bushels. On top of. this came news that frosts have done serious damage to the crops ordinarily ready for market at this time.

Onions in Chicago today were selling at 12 cents a pound wholesale [2013 CPI: $2.18] as compared with the normal price of three cents [2013 CPI: $0.55], and beans, ordinarily worth $1.75 [2013 CPI: $31.85], at $7.25 [2013 CPI: $131.95] a bushel. 


GLOUCESTER. Feb 20—The sugar shortage has struck this city. Yesterday eight cents per pound was asked at the groceries. This morning, owing to the limited stocks, the price was advanced to 12 and then to 15 cents per pound [2013 CPI: $2.18 and then to $2.73 per pound]. One of the suburban grocers has put up the price to 23 cents [2013 CPI: $4.19].

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