Streetcar Strike Mob Attacks Woman

     I have always said the St. Louis Streetcar Strike of 1900 was not the story of the evil streetcar companies exploiting the innocent workers.  “The innocent workers” committed many deplorable acts during the streetcar strike.

     One of their most frequent tactics involved stripping woman in public who rode the streetcars during the strike.  Amazingly, their victims were young and attractive women.  The strikers left elderly and obese women unmolested.  Due to their heinous and predatory actions, the Missouri legislature made it a felony to strip a woman in public during the 1901 legislative session.


St. Louis Streetcar from the Public Domain

     On Sunday, June 17, 1900, Mrs. Eva Doman rode the southbound streetcar to South Broadway and Marion Streets, where she exited.  It was about 12:30 in the afternoon.  Mrs. Doman did not realize a large group of strikers and their sympathizers were nearby.  Several young girls gave Mrs. Doman away, when they began yelling, “Scab! Scab!”


St. Louis Streetcar Strike of 1900 available on Amazon in both paperback and e-book.

     As soon as the men spotted Mrs. Doman, they began to chase her down.  Mrs. Doman knew about the fate of several other women stripped after leaving streetcars.  Mrs. Doman immediately took off running with all her might east on Marion Street.

    In addition to the men, several young boys chased Mrs. Doman.  During the pursuit, they made their intentions clear by yelling, “Strip her!” “Give it to her!”  Mrs. Doman ran through the side streets looking for a place of refuge but the neighborhood women stood in front of their gates refusing her shelter.

     When Mrs. Doman made it back to South Broadway, she was completely exhausted.  Seeing a saloon with its door open, she desperately sought refuge.  Instead, the proprietor Joseph Bene callously shoved her back out the door and locked it.

     Mrs. Doman’s position was perilous.  As the crowd began to chant, several women pulled and tore her clothing.  The small boys pelted her with mud.  A couple of men moved menacingly towards her to complete her public humiliation.

    About this time, Mrs. Alice Buck, who lived on the third floor above the saloon elbowed her way through the crowd.  When her pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears, she grabbed Mrs. Doman and guided her back the 75 feet to the entrance to her apartment.  Both women were pelted with mud but Mrs. Doman was spared further humiliation.

    St. Louis Police under Sergeants Hess and Lally arrived and dispersed the crowd.  After hearing of Mrs. Doman’s treatment, they promptly arrested the gallant Mr. Bene.  Beside charging him with assault and battery, St. Louis Police also charged him with having his saloon open on Sunday.

     Unfortunately, a number of other women would not be so lucky.  While Edward Whitaker, the streetcar president, acted deplorably, his conduct was often matched by the strikers and their sympathizers.  Most of the heroes in this contest were bystanders not involved with either side.

    What surprised you about the streetcar strike?  Do you agree the strikers acted terribly or do you think they were justified?

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