Inez Milholland gave her life for our voting rights today after collapsing while on the campaign trail. She died shortly thereafter. Chances are, most people never heard of Inez Milholland. However, they may have seen photos of the magnificent woman on a horse leading the enormous 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC at the time of President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.

Inez Milholland is briefly featured in the HBO movie “Iron Jawed Angels.” Inez is representative of the suffragists’ style of mixing drama and beauty with their idealism. Parades were carefully planned to provide evidence of strength and determination as well as artistic impact. Today this is referred to as “visual rhetoric.” Suffrage activism inspired pageantry, poetry, art and music.

To Inez Milholland
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Read in Washington, November eighteenth, 1923, at the unveiling of a statue of three leaders in the cause of Equal Rights for Women

Upon this marble bust that is not I
Lay the round, formal wreath that is not fame;
But in the forum of my silenced cry
Root ye the living tree whose sap is flame.
I, that was proud and valiant, am no more;—
Save as a dream that wanders wide and late,
Save as a wind that rattles the stout door,
Troubling the ashes in the sheltered grate.
The stone will perish; I shall be twice dust.
Only my standard on a taken hill
Can cheat the mildew and the red-brown rust
And make immortal my adventurous will.
Even now the silk is tugging at the staff:
Take up the song; forget the epitaph.

Suffrage Wagon News, and are partners in the Inez Milholland Centennial during 2016.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, email and the quarterly newsletters.

5 Responses

  • Belinda Dallas

    Me, too.

  • Thanks so much for writing about Inez Milholland. I have never heard of her before, and it really angers me that her name is so obscure when she gave her life fighting for our rights. I stumbled across your blog yesterday and I’m really enjoying reading all the posts — thanks for writing!

  • Melanie

    I admit to not having heard of Inez Milholland before. I could say. “Shame on me,” but this also reflects poorly on schools and parents who should be telling the story.

  • There’s a wonderful story behind all this: Millay married Inez’ husband, Eugen Bossevain, after IM died– and he had sisters who were leaders in the Dutch women’s movement, so he was attune to these strong women and their politics.

  • Tara

    I really like “take up the song; forget the epitaph.”

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