While attending Vassar College Inez Milholland first became involved in women’s rights activism. The college refused to allow suffragists to come speak at the college, and the young Milholland staged a protest in response. Though she was suspended from the school for her actions, her activist career had only just begun.
She went on to become a prominent labor law attorney in New York, a highly unusual position for a woman to hold in the early 20th century.
At President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, she led a march of 8,000 suffragists through Washington, D.C. on a white horse with her hair loose and flowing over a long cape. As a young and beautiful woman, she became the popular face of suffrage, as well as a model of the “New Woman”: She liked to dance and date, and did both openly.
Inez was a founding member of the NAACP, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and the National Child Labor Committee, as well as other groups that championed the rights of disenfranchised people, particularly women.
While speaking in Los Angeles, she collapsed due to complications from anemia and died a month later. She was only 30. Her gravesite is in Lewis Cemetery, Elizabethtown, New York, and was frequented by feminist admirers long after her untimely death.