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Boycott Fever

A developing sense of working-class community paved the way for a string of boycotts in the mid-1880s. Boycotts were a way to win concessions from an employer by convincing other workers not to patronize his business. The movement peaked in 1886 with campaigns across the country; that year, there were 150 boycotts in New York State alone. This 1887 cartoon in the satirical weekly Life commented on the ubiquity of the boycott. “Whereas,” reads one boy, representing a committee of disgruntled candy-cart customers, “we find we don’t git red color enough in our strawberry cream, nor enough yaller in our wanilla, . . . to say nothin‘ o’ the small measure of peanuts we gits for a cent; therefore, be it resolved . . . that all the stands in the city is boycotted until these things is righted.”

Source: Life, May 27, 1887—Scott Molloy Labor Archives.