Inez Milholland (Inez Milholland)

Inez Milholland

Inez Milholland received her early education at the Comstock School in New York and Kensington High School in London. After finishing school, she decided to attend Vassar but when the college wouldn’t accept her graduation certificate she attended Willard School for Girls in Berlin. During her attendance at Vassar College she was once suspended for organizing a women’s rights meeting. The president of Vassar had forbidden suffrage meetings, but Milholland and others held regular “classes” on the issue, along with large protests and petitions. As a student she was known as an active radical. She started the suffrage movement at Vassar, enrolled two-thirds of the students, and taught them the principles of socialism. With the radical group she had gathered about her, she attended socialist meetings in Poughkeepsie which were under the ban of the faculty. An athletic young woman, she was the captain of the hockey team and a member of the 1909 track team; she also set a record in the basketball throw. Milholland was also involved in student productions, the Current Topics Club, the German Club, and the debating team. After graduation in from Vassar 1909, she tried for admission at both Yale University, Harvard University, and Cambridge University with the purpose of studying law, but was denied due to gender. Milholland was finally matriculated at the New York University School of Law, from which she took her LL.B. degree in 1912.

Inez Milholland stepped into her first suffrage parade on May 7, 1911. She held a sign that read, “Forward, out of error,/Leave behind the night,/Forward through the darkness,/Forward into light!” Milholland quickly became the beautiful face of the suffrage movement. The New York Sun stated that “No suffrage parade was complete without Inez Milholland.” She led many parades in 1911, 1912, and 1913. In 1913, at the age of 27, Milholland made her most memorable appearance, as she helped organize the suffrage parade in Washington D.C., scheduled to take place the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. She led the parade wearing a crown and a long white cape while riding atop a large white horse named “Gray Dawn.” Inez Milholland believed that women should have the right to vote because of the traits that were unique to women. She argued that women would metaphorically become the “house-cleaners of the nation.” She believed women’s votes could remove social ills such as sweatshops, tenements, prostitution, hunger, poverty, and child mortality. She told men that they should not worry about the women in their lives as they were extending their sacred rights and duties to the whole country rather than inside the home. Even though she spoke of these issues, she was always disappointed that she was better known for her looks than her brains.

In 1916 she went on a tour in the West speaking for women’s rights as a member of the National Woman’s Party. She undertook the tour despite suffering from pernicious anemia and despite the admonitions of her family who were concerned about her deteriorating health. On October 22, 1916, she collapsed in the middle of a speech in Los Angeles, and was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital. Despite repeated blood transfusions, she died on November 25, 1916. Inez Milholland’s last public words were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”

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Born

  • August, 06, 1886
  • USA
  • Brooklyn, New York

Died

  • November, 25, 1916
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • pernicious anemia

Cemetery

  • Lewis Cemetery
  • Lewis, New York
  • USA

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