Marissa Burke

Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy | Denver, CO | 11th Grade

Historical Figue I Admire
Inez Milholland Boissevain

Inez Milholland Boissevain was an activist and a social reformer. Boissevain advocated for social equity alongside other reformers in campaigns of speeches, letter writing, and rallies. Born in New York and raised mostly in London, she had a faint accent, which is believed to have added charm to Inez. In her college years at Vassar College, Milholland had become a very active and engaging student on campus. She took to extracurricular activities such as joining a German club and the debating team, playing sports such as basketball, golf, tennis, and field hockey, and she even served as president of the junior class. In memorial to Boissevain, The Philadelphia Public Ledger wrote: "Beautiful and courageous, she embodied more than any other American woman the ideals of that part of womankind whose eyes are on the future. She embodied all the things that make the Suffrage Movement something more than a fight to vote. She had the determination of modern women to live a full free life, unhampered by tradition." This quote is a complete embodiment of Inez Boissevain’s importance to the Suffragist Movement. 

After participating in a number of Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) demonstrations in England, Inez returned to the United States and she wrote in the Vassar Miscellany about the English suffragettes, and discussed the disappointing efforts of American women in comparison. During Boissevain’s college years, she participated in many demonstrations, fueling her love for fighting for change. Although the principal of her college, Vassar, forbade any discussion of suffrage, Inez never failed to speak up for herself and others. After graduating from Vassar, Inez Milholland applied to the law schools at Yale, Harvard, and Columbia only to be rejected because of her sex.

Inez Milholland’s reputation as one of the most powerful and persuasive suffragist stemmed from her stopping a New York campaign parade for President William Howard Taft. Boissevain began speaking through a megaphone from a building as the parade was nearing; most significantly, hundreds of men broke from the parade to see and listen to her. During massive suffrage parades she would help organize and lead the parades while riding a white horse, wearing a long white cape and a crown. Not only was Boissevain interested in fighting for women’s rights, but she also sought world peace, prison reform, and equality for African-Americans. Inez’s suppressed college life is believed to have motivated her to contribute her time to challenging the status quo. After her death, her sister Vida Milholland dedicated her time to suffrage work, in her honor. Boissevain sacrificed much of her spare time, as she was actively organizing parades and she was busy scouting the world. Inez even once handcuffed herself to a prison inmate to simulate what it was like to be one. After Inez Milholland Boissevain’ s death, Mount Discovery was renamed Mt. Inez in her memory. Throughout her lifetime, she inspired many people to fight for not only women’s rights but also African-American’s rights and better prison systems.

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