AUGUST 6, 1886–NOVEMBER 25, 1916
Inez Milholland Boissevain was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, New York. She was a suffragist, lawyer, and public speaker. She got her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, where she was an active women’s rights organizer. She later went to New York University School of Law, which was one of the only law schools in the country that allowed women. She was also a member of the NAACP and a socialist.
Milholland was one of the most famous faces of the suffrage movement in the 1910s. A member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and later the National Woman’s Party, Milholland was often chosen to give speeches and lead parades.
The day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration in 1913, she led a NAWSA suffrage parade through Washington D.C. on horseback, dressed all in white and wearing a crown. In 1916, Milholland went on a speaking tour in the western United States to promote a constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.
While giving a speech in Los Angeles, Milholland suddenly collapsed. The last words she ever spoke in public were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” Milholland died several weeks later in the hospital on November 25, 1916. She was only 30 years old. Her early death was tragic, but it also provided other suffragists with another important reason to keep up their work. “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” became a rallying cry in the final years of the suffragist movement. Though her career was sadly cut short, Milholland is remembered as a hero of women’s rights.
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