Thursday, May 22, 2008 | Meet
Inez Milholland Boissevain (born August 6, 1886 in Brooklyn, New York - November 25, 1916 in Los Angeles) was a suffragist, labor lawyer,World War I correspondent, and public speaker who greatly influenced the women's movement in America.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she grew up in a wealthy family. She attended Vassar College, where 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. After her graduation in 1909, she spent time in Europe.
Milholland vehemently protested against America's involvement in World War I. She was a labor lawyer and was involved in the production of the socialist journal, The Masses.
Inez Milholland at the March 3, 1913, Suffrage ParadeShe was involved in the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which later branched into the grassroots radical National Woman's Party. She became a leader and a popular speaker on the campaign circuit of the NWP, working closely with Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. She led the Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC, the day before Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, March 3, 1913, draped in white robes and riding a huge white horse.
In July 1913, she married Eugen Jan Boissevain, a Dutch importer.
She was a leading figure on Henry Ford's ill-fated Peace Ship expedition of late 1915, steaming across the Atlantic with a team of pacifist campaigners who hoped to give impetus to a negotiated settlement to the First World War. Her role has recently been fictionalised by the British novelist Douglas Galbraith in his novel King Henry.
In 1916, she went on a tour in the West, speaking for women's rights, despite suffering from pernicious anemia. During a speech in Los Angeles that September she suddenly collapsed. Ten weeks later, on November 25, 1916, she died at the age of 30. Her last public words were, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?" She was known as the martyr of the Women's Suffrage movement.
Several years after her death, Eugen Jan Boissevain married writer Edna St. Vincent Millay, coincidentally also a graduate of Vassar.
Julia Ormond's representation of Inez was received with accolades in the movie Iron Jawed Angels, which received a standing ovation at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.