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T he D aybreak B oys. By Grace Barry. American Poverty. Irish flooded into America in nineteenth century Settled in run-down neighborhoods Standards were low: provided breeding ground for crime Prostitution and gangs were a symptom.

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t he d aybreak b oys

The Daybreak Boys

By Grace Barry

american poverty
American Poverty
  • Irish flooded into America in nineteenth century
  • Settled in run-down neighborhoods
  • Standards were low: provided breeding ground for crime
  • Prostitution and gangs were a symptom



Young boys urged into gangs

    • Bowery Boys
    • Dead Rabbits
    • Five Points Gang
  • Many girls became “brothels”
  • “Gangs were sometimes necessary as a support system for the new immigrants, who were otherwise powerless.” – “Background History”


daybreak b hoys
Daybreak B’hoys
  • Exact origin unknown
  • Named for penchant of early hours and youthfulness
  • Youngest member age 10
  • River pirates


daybreak b hoys continued
Daybreak B’hoys (Continued)
  • Irish accent made ‘boys’ into ‘b’hoys’
  • Badge of honor
  • Operated in the Forth Ward in New York
  • Terrorized East River


  • Murder
    • Usually of watchmen
  • Mostly were known for robbery of merchant ships
    • Used small dinghies to row up to docked ship
    • Stole what they could
    • Sold it on the 19th century Black Market
  • 20 murders
    • ‘Patsy the barber’
    • Nicholas Saul
    • William Howlett
    • Bill Poole
    • Bill Lowrie
    • Slobbery Jim
  • Many lived life of crime before entering gang


location location location
Location, Location, Location
  • Slaughterhouse Point
  • Gin mill owned by Pete Williams
  • Intersection of James and Water Streets
  • In vicinity of Five Points
  • Little to no police interference


death of leaders
Death Of Leaders
  • January 28, 1853
  • Execution of Howlett and Saul
    • $100,000
  • Hundreds showed up
  • Slobbery Jim took over gang
    • Gin mill shut down


continuance of the legacy
Continuance Of The Legacy
  • Moved up Water Street to a saloon
    • Owned by Lowrie
  • In 1858, described as better than ever by Herbert Asbury (Gangs of New York)
  • Stronger, more efficient at robbery
  • When police started killing many members of the gang, Slobbery Jim Disappeared
  • Next in line opted for life of crime elsewhere
  • Creation of Harbor Police Force
    • By Police Chief Matsell
the end of the daybreak boys
The End Of The Daybreak Boys
  • Gradually dispersed
  • Some were killed by police
  • Some joined other gangs
  • Others became ‘entrepreneurs’
modern day media reference
Modern Day Media Reference
  • Movie made with Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Depicts a young man trying to kill

Bill The Butcher

  • Famous gang member reputed

to have killed many men


  • "1853: Nicholas Saul and William Howlett, teenage New York gangsters." ExecutedToday.com. http://www.executedtoday.com/2008/01/28/1853-nicholas-saul-and-william-howlett/ (accessed November 23, 2013).
  • Andrews, Evan . "7 Infamous Gangs of New York." History.com. http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-infamous-gangs-of-new-york (accessed November 24, 2013).
  • Asbury, Herbert. "River Pirates." In The gangs of New York: an informal history of the underworld. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1937. 60-62.
  • "Background History." Background History. http://www.myrtle-avenue.com/daybreak/background.html (accessed November 24, 2013).
  • Burrows, Edwin G., and Mike Wallace. "City of Immigrants." In Gotham: a history of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 757.
  • McNamara, Robert . "The Five Points, New York's Most Notorious Neighborhood." About.com 19th Century History. http://history1800s.about.com/od/urbanconditions/p/fivepointsnyc.htm (accessed November 24, 2013).
  • Stern, William . "What Gangs of New York Misses." City Journal 23, no. 4 (2003). http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_1_14_03ws.html (accessed November 21, 2013).
  • Sutton, Charles. "XXXV." In The New York Tombs: its secrets and its mysteries. Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith, 1973. 469-474.