Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

November 15, 2017

 

 

Inez Milholland – An Adirondack Suffragette

 

     Celebrating the Woman’s Suffrage Movement (2017-2020) gives us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of women in the political process.  Although women received the right to vote in New York State in 1917, it was not until 1920 that women in this country won the right to vote after a long struggle.  Perhaps our best known ‘local’ suffragette was Susan B. Anthony.  The women’s suffrage movement also had connections to the Adirondacks in the person of Inez Milholland.

 

 Inez Milholland, Suffragette

     The Milholland family had its roots in Lewis, New York, near Elizabethtown in Essex County.  Her father worked at the Ticonderoga Sentinel in the early 1880s.  the family later moved to Brooklyn where Inez was born in 1886.  Her father was successful and with his wealth he returned to Lewis and bought the family farm, Meadowmount, and 4,000 acres where the family spent their summers.

     Her father, John Milholland was a reporter for the New York Tribune.  He was a supporter of world peace, civil rights, and women suffrage.  He obviously was a major influence on his daughter.

     Vassar College saw Inez’s arrival in 1905.  She was a gifted athlete on campus, but her real mark was as a political activist in the cause of women’s suffrage.  When Vassar refused to allow her to organize a rally on campus, she moved the venue to an adjacent cemetery.  In the annals of suffrage history, it is known as the ‘cemetery rally.’  It has been reported that at her graduation in 1909, the president of the college remarked, “Wonderful girl.  I’m glad she’s gone.”

     Following law school at New York University, Inez joined a New York law firm and practiced criminal and divorce law.  Her women’s rights activities continued and she was a well-known lecturer for the cause.  A magazine of the time is quoted as saying, “The most effective spokesman of the suffrage cause in America is Inez Milholland…when she rises before an audience of four or five hundred men, there is a shock of agreeable surprise.  Young, of immediately attractive appearance, and self-possessed, she instantly centers attention.”

     In March of 1913, Inez led a march for women’s suffrage in Washington, D.C., the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.  She was sitting on a large white horse wearing a crown and a long white cape.

 

      In 1916 she was touring the West for the National Women’s Party despite of her family’s concerns about her failing health.  On October 22, 1916, Inez was speaking in Los Angeles when she collapsed in the middle of her speech.  She died about a month later.

     Inez is buried in Lewis, Essex County, New York.

 

 

 

This material was written for the Warren County Historical Society by Warren County Historian Stan Cianfarano.  Photos are courtesy of the internet.

 

 

 

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