Inez Milholland Boissewain

Inez Milholland Boissevain (1886-1916) was the privileged daughter of a New York Tribune writer and salesman. Boissevain’s parents supported her feminist agitations, but her elders at Vassar College were less enthused. Suspended from Vassar and denied entrance to several Ivy League schools, Boissevain finally graduated from NY University Law School in 1912. As a freshman lawyer she pushed for prison reform at Sing Sing, fought poverty and child mortality, and worked for the NAACP. Boissevain also employed her athleticism and dramatic training in numerous suffragist parades; in 1913, on the eve of Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, she famously donned a cape and crown and, astride a horse, led thousands in protest down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Boissevain worked briefly as a war correspondent, but was expelled from Italy for her pacifist reports. She then eloped with a Dutch man, which cost her her American citizenship; she could not have voted even had suffrage passed in her lifetime. Touring for the National Woman’s Party in late 1916, Boissevain collapsed mid-speech. She died of pernicious anemia days before Thanksgiving. Her last public words were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” —From a speech, National Woman’s Party Assembly, October 22, 1916

-Jen Hawkins, The American Feminist: First Wave Feminists