Friday, July 4, 2008

Not A Jolly Hoe Hoe Hoe

from a 7/4/06 posting on pseudo-intellectualism with a linked slide show (at the end of the post)
The Hoe Company plays a big part in a tragic story of racial confrontation at the turn of the 20th Century. "Even in death Jacob Joseph was not to be spared further indignities. Perhaps guilt ridden at their treatment of this gentle scholar, a crowd estimated at between fifty and one hundred thousand lined the route of Joseph's funeral cortege (July 30, 1902). As the funeral procession coiled its way through the Lower East Side enroute to the Grand Street ferry it stopped at synagogue after synagogue. Finally, turning into Grand Street the procession reached the factory of R. Hoe & Company, makers of printing presses. The Hoe establishment was a massive building occupying a solid city block. Some one thousand employees worked there, nearly all of them Irish. Animosity of the Irish toward the Jews at this time was a fact of life in New York City. Much of this hostility had its origins in Catholic religious attitudes; distrust of Jewish political radicalism; and Jewish economic competition in the marketplace. In an earlier period of American history this hostility of the Irish immigrants toward other groups whom they feared or saw as competitors had resulted in the infamous Civil War draft riots directed against the blacks of New York City. During Rabbi Joseph's funeral as the hearse passed directly in front of the R. Hoe plant the employees on the second floor of the building began emptying buckets of water on the tightly packed mourners, then hurling bottles, screws, and blocks of wood. Enraged, a number of Jews ran into the building entrance, shouting in Yiddish, and attempting to get at the missile throwers. At that point the factory superintendent blasted the Jewish interlopers with a powerful stream of water from a fire hose, and then turned the water on the mourners in the street. After some forty minutes the violence ebbed, and the funeral procession began to move again. Belatedly then, some two hundred policemen arrived on the scene. Led by an inspector named Kevin Cross, who allegedly ordered his men to club their brains out, the police ignoring the Irish factory workers suddenly waded into the crowd of Jewish mourners. Shouting anti-Jewish epithets, swinging their clubs vigorously the police drove the Jews back from the R. Hoe building. Heads and arms were broken, and bodies relentlessly beaten as the police joined by R. Hoe employees continued to pursue the fleeing Jews. By the time the assault had ended a half hour later over three hundred Jews required medical attention. Adding insult to injury scores of Jews were arrested and fined whereas only one R. Hoe emoloyee was detained." I couldn't find a pic of Rabbi Joseph, so the founder of the RJJ school fills in above. Here's a slide show with some images that puts that time period in perspective:

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