Thursday, June 8, 2017

Suffrage Rally: Inez Milholland Boissevain

Inez Milholland Boissevain returned home briefly for our Suffrage Rally reenactment in City Park on May 7, 2017. Domenica Newell-Amato, dressed as a modern day Inez, delivered an abridged version of Milholland Boissevain's "Women of the West" speech. A speech she gave numerous times on her last speaking tour. The tour that would drain her, until she collapsed on the platform after she demanded to know "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?"

Inez Milholland lived in New York City & the Adirondacks. Her father's family home in Lewis was the perfect vacation spot. Inez attended Vassar College in Poukeepsie, & eventually earned her law degree from New York University. After married Eugen Boissevan, she lost her US citizenship & was unable to practice law when she returned to the United States from a trip to Europe. 

In 1916, Alice Paul of the National Woman's Party requested Milholland Boissevain make the plea to the Women of the West to vote against incumbent Woodrow Wilson, because he was dragging his feet on enfranchising women. If their plan worked Glens Falls native, Charles Evans Hughes would have won the election of 1916. Alas, Hughes lost, & Milholland Boissevain lost her life from exhaustion & pernicious anemia.

Newell-Amato delivers Milholland's Women of the West speech at Glens Falls Suffrage Rally, 2017

THE UNENFRANCHISED WOMEN of the nation appeal to you for help in their fight for political freedom. We appeal to you to help us, for you alone have both the power and will. The dominant political party… has the power to liberate the women of the United States, but they have refused to exercise that power on our behalf, and on behalf of justice and of freedom. They have refused to put the party machinery back of the constitutional amendment. They have blocked the amendment at every turn. The Democratic leaders in the Senate forced it to defeat through a premature vote. In the House they have buried it in committee. Fourteen times the President has refused his help. Therefore, women of the West, let no free woman, let no woman that respects herself and womankind, lend her strength to the Democratic party that turns away its face from justice to the women of the nation.
 * * * * *
Now, for the first time in our history, women have the power to enforce their demands, and the weapon with which to fight for woman's liberation. You, women of the West, who possess that power, will you use it on behalf of women? We have waited so long and so patiently and so hopelessly for help from other political sources. May we not depend upon the co-operation and good-will of women in politics? Shall we not feel that women will respond to the appeal of women, and shall we not see their hands stretched out to us in sympathy and help? Women of the West, stand by us now. Visit your displeasure upon that political party that has ignored and held cheaply the interests of women. Let no party, whatsoever its name, dare to slur the demands of women, as the Democratic party has done, and come to you for your endorsement at the polls. Make them feel your indignation. Let them know that women stand by women. Show them that no party may deal lightly with the needs of women, and hope to enlist your support.
 * * * * *
Liberty must be fought for. And, women of the nation, this is the time to fight. This is the time to demonstrate our sisterhood, our spirit, our blithe courage, and our will. It is women for women now, and shall be till the fight is won. Sisters of the West, may we count on You? Think well before you answer. Other considerations press upon you. But surely this great question of woman's liberty comes first. How can our nation be free with half of its citizens politically enslaved? How can the questions that come before a government for decision, be decided aright, while half the people whom these decisions affect are mute? Women of the West, stand by us in this crisis. Give us your help and we shall win. Fight on our side and liberty is for all of us. For the first time in the world women are asked to unite with women in a common cause. Will you stand by?
* * * * *
The gods of government help those who help themselves. Therefore, women and sisters, and one day fellow voters, let us help ourselves. Say to the rulers of this nation: "You deal negligently with the interests of women at your peril. As you have sowed so shall ye reap. We, as women, refuse to uphold that party that has betrayed us. We refuse to uphold any party until all women are free. We are tired of being the political auxiliaries of men. It is the woman's fight only we are making. Together we shall stand, shoulder to shoulder for the greatest principle the world has ever known – the right of self-government."
* * * * *

It is only for a little while. Soon the fight will be over. Victory is in sight. It depends upon how we stand in this coming election – united or divided – whether we shall win and whether we shall deserve to win. We have no money, no elaborate organization, no one interested in our success, except anxious-hearted women all over the country who cannot come to the battle line themselves. Here and there in farm house and factory, by the fire-side, in the hospital, and school-room, wherever women are sorrowing and working and hoping, they are praying for our success. Only the hopes of women have we; and our own spirit and a mighty principle. Women of these states, unite. We have only our chains to lose, and a whole nation to gain. Will you join us by voting against President Wilson and the Democratic candidates for Congress?

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