Women’s History Month: Inez Millholand, American Suffragist

By Katia Miazzo

Inez Millholand is known for her passionate and some might say aggressive activism for women’s rights. She led the Woman Suffrage Procession. But before she could lead the revolution let’s dive into her early years. Inez was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, New York. She was born into a wealthy family which gave her many opportunities to receive a great education. Her father was a news reporter and editorial writer for the New York Tribune. Her father also supported many progressive movements such as world peace, civil rights, and women’s suffrage. This helped spark her passion for these movements as well. Inez attended Vassar College, her time in Vassar consisted of protests and organizing women’s rights meetings. She was actually suspended for organizing such meetings. Inez organized protests and petitions that gathered a lot of support and attention. These acts were forbidden in Vassar. After she graduated from Vassar, she tried applying to Yale University, Harvard University and Cambridge but they denied her acceptance because she was a woman. She later got accepted into New York University School of Law. She became a great lawyer who fought for prison reform and equality for African Americans. She was involved in several organizations such as; the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Women’s Trade Union League. An inspiring fact about Inez is that she was so determined to uncover the cruel conditions in prisons that she handcuffed herself to one only for her to see the true experiences that inmates suffered.

Millholand’s first suffrage event was in 1911. After that event, she quickly became the face of the women’s suffrage movement. She led several of those events/parades. There’s an image of her riding a horse in a white cape leading the procession a day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. She worked closely with the Suffrage leader Alice Paul. One of Inez’s missions was to gain support for women’s right to vote. In her speeches, she was a strong advocate for this and that women could help lead the country toward a better path by having the right to vote on important issues. In her personal life, it was reported that Inez proposed to Eugen Boissevain in 1913. They later ended their marriage due to her husband not being an American citizen. In the last years of her life, she got sick from pernicious anemia. She didn’t let that stop her from traveling and spreading the word. She decided to tour around the West in 1916 to advocate for women’s rights but she collapsed during a speech in California and died a month later.

Her final words she spoke were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”