Thursday, December 22, 2016

INEZ | 100th Anniversary of Christmas Memorial

Inez Milholland Boissevain preparing to lead the March 3, 1913, women’s suffrage 
         parade in Washington, D.C.                                                              Library of Congress

[The following appears in the East Hampton Star dated yesterday and delivered this morning, Dec. 23.]

A Suffragist Warrior, by John Tepper Marlin

Christmas Day this year will be the 100th anniversary of a huge memorial service on Capitol Hill for Inez Milholland Boissevain, a New Yorker who died on Nov. 25, 1916. Her death played a crucial role in the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. 
Inez was the probably the most famous American feminist alive in 1916. She led the 1913 Woman Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C. Later that year she secretly married Eugen Boissevain, who was my mother’s uncle. It was front-page news all over the United States because feminism and marriage were then considered incompatible. The New York Times described Inez as “the fairest of the Amazons.”
She died weeks after collapsing in Los Angeles during a speech urging a vote against the re-election of President Woodrow Wilson because he opposed women’s suffrage and what was called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. Her shocking death sparked hundreds of tributes and memorials around the country. The huge Christmas Day funeral service in the Hall of Heroes led to a White House meeting of members of the National Woman’s Party with President Wilson to urge him — in memory of Inez — to support the constitutional amendment recognizing the right of women to vote. 
Wilson’s response to the delegation was condescending. He explained that it was impossible for him to hold together the southern wing of the Democratic Party if he championed a federal amendment, as they would have known if they had done their political homework. The fuming delegation went back across Lafayette Square to the Woman’s Party headquarters and decided to picket the White House every day until Wilson changed his mind.
The picketers were in due course arrested and transported to the Occoquan Women’s Workhouse in Lorton, Va. They promptly went on a hunger strike and were force-fed like geese. When descriptions of this torture were smuggled out of the workhouse, public opinion shifted decisively, and Wilson decided to support the 19th Amendment. It was passed by both houses of Congress and became law in 1920.
New Yorkers were prominent in the achievement. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were from the Rochester area. Inez was Brooklyn-born and Vassar-educated. Her portrait on a horse has been hung over the mantelpiece in the National Woman’s Party headquarters in Washington for nearly a century. Money to support the party came from Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, whose castle at Sands Point on Long Island is widely viewed as the model for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” mansion.
One reason for Inez’s effectiveness was that she understood the media, as the daughter of a Lincoln Republican newspaper editor who in midcareer became wealthy by promoting underground tubes for the distribution of mail. Her father, an Irish Presbyterian, was the first treasurer of the N.A.A.C.P.

She championed the cause of the small upstart activist Delta sorority at Howard University to be represented in the women’s suffrage march when others in 1913 feared a backlash among whites in segregated Washington and the Southern states. I attended the 100th anniversary of that march three years ago. It attracted 5,000 Delta marchers from around the country, outnumbering by more than 10 to 1 representation by the traditional women’s organizations that existed in 1913.

In the wake of the defeat of the first female major-party presidential candidate in U.S. history in 2016, American women’s groups are organizing a Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21. The urgency and passion with which Inez and her colleagues in the National Woman’s Party pursued their cause turned around the media, the public, and then the president, in that order. Remembering how women succeeded in the years 1913 to 1920 and translating that to a radically transformed media environment might be useful for those planning the 2017 march.
© 2016 by John Tepper Marlin and The East Hampton Star.  To reprint email

John Tepper Marlin wrote a play about the women’s suffrage movement that was staged at Rochester’s Geva Theatre in 1998 and twice at the Springs Presbyterian Church in 2005. He has lived in Springs since 1981.

MILLAY | Edna's "Poem" after Eugen's Death

Edna and Eugen at sea, c. 1923.
My research on the Boissevain family proceeds slowly in part because of the language barrier. Much of the record is in Dutch. 

Here is a note from Engelien de Booij to her cousin Hilda van Stockum that is notable because it mentions a "poem" by Millay about Eugen after his death (she lived on after him for a little more than a year). I

t also shows that the flow of information from Engelien to me was often via HvS and in Dutch. After Engelien's death I was given documents by her cousin and executor that Engelien had left for me. As she promised in the note below, she did several translations of letters, mostly  from Willem van Stockum to his mother. She had been working on them in the months before she died.

The following is my transcription of Engelien's hand-written letter and my translation based on Google Translate and the Hippocrene Standard Dutch-English Dictionary. 

Bilthoven, October 21, 1998. 
Lieve Hilda, 
ik ontdekke dat ik Edna’s gedicht dat zij ha Eugen’s dood schreef, toch hier had – ik had het overgedreven uit moeder's gedichtenverzameling en zend het je hierbij (copie) voor John, misschien kent hij dit niet. Ik vind het nog altijd heel ontroerend, maar misschien lees jij het met anderen ogen? Over een paar maanden hoop ik de andere strikken voor John op te diepen. Heel veel lief. Engelien.


Bilthoven, October 21, 1998.
Dear Hilda [van Stockum], 
I discovered I still had here Edna's poem that she wrote after Eugen's death – I had transferred it from mother's [Hilda de Booij's] poem collection and send it to you here (copy) for John [Tepper Marlin], maybe he does not have it. I still find it very moving, but maybe you read it with others' eyes? In a few months I hope to unearth the other pieces for John. Lots of love. Engelien.

What is this "poem" that Edna wrote after Eugen's death? Three possibilities:

1. It may be the "penciled draft of a poem" – of which only the last three lines are cited in both Nancy Milford's biography (Chapter 40), Savage Beauty, and Daniel Mark Epstein's What Lips My Lips Have Kissed
I will control myself, or go inside. / I will not flaw perfection with my grief. / Handsome this day: no matter who has died.
These three lines were circled, says Milford, in a notebook found near a bloodstain on the Millay landing. This is the only poetry in Milford's book that might be construed as an epitaphic poem to Eugen. Neither biography includes the rest of the poem. 

2. The two lines that I have cited elsewhere, not in either biography.
The only thing I ever did for you was survive you. / But that was much. 
3. A third poem. 

I'm still looking. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016


The Boissevain Coat of Arms
The Boissevain coat of arms includes the motto – Ni regret du passé ni peur de l'avenir.  "No regret for the past, no fear of the future."  The motto is in French because the family originated in France and migrated to Holland.

My grandmother, born Olga Boissevain, was extremely proud of her family. I was prompted to remember her family motto when during my end-of-year cleanup of our apartment I came across a book called Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda by Dr. Arthur Freeman and Rose DeWolf (New York: HarperPerennial, 1990).

It struck a bell. The subtitle is: Overcoming Regrets, Mistakes, and Missed Opportunities. The thesis is that people can be prisoners of their regrets and that their focus should be on the future. The past is over, we start from where we are.

Economists call this "path dependence". Economies and people develop from where they are, not where we would prefer them to have started. It's like the person giving directions to your hotel who says: "You really shouldn't be starting from here."

Two sections of Chapter One lay out the general advice:
  • "Why" Is Not Important
  •  What Next, Not Why.
Lucy is in a box of her own
The authors make clear that following their advice is not so easy as it might seem. You can't "just forget" something that you have decided was unfair or a mistake in your life. They suggest that you "change your mood" rather than try to "forget" something. The more we try to forget something, the more we may remember it. Don't try to substitute a vacuum for a negative thought. Instead, substitute a positive thought or at least something that will crowd out the negative thought.
One handy technique ... for interrupting the constant repetition of an unwanted thought is call thought-stopping. It means consciously replacing one set of thoughts with another. ... For example: The next time you find yourself saying, "If only..." start counting by thirteens. ... "[T]hirteen, twenty-six... and thirteen more is thirty-nine, and thirteen more is ..." ... You will find that it is not only difficult to count by thirteen, but it is practically impossible to do that and think about anything else at the same time. (p. 107)
The rest of the book is about goal-setting and the terrible "shoulds", the common disablers. There are chapters on:
  • The urge to get even
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Lost loves and wrong lovers
  • Procrastination
  • Them – resisting pressure from others
I found that it all deepened my understanding of the family motto.

Friday, December 9, 2016

MILLAY | Aria da Capo & The King's Henchman (Updated Dec 28, 2016)

My sister Brigid Marlin organized  a Millay Festival in London in 2005 through the Society for Art of the Imagination, a global association of artists that she founded and chaired.

Aria da Capo

At the event, Millay's allegorical one-act anti-war play Aria da Capo was performed. 

It was first performed in 1919-20 by the Provincetown Players, which Millay joined as an actress before she became a playwright. It was called by The New York Times critic Alexander Woollcott “the most beautiful and most interesting play in the English language now to be seen in New York.”

The theme of Millay's play was pacifist, and her husband Eugen Boissevain's first wife lived and died a pacifist. Millay, however,  later became a fierce advocate of the United States entering the war against Hitler, in part because most of her husband's relatives were trapped in Holland.

Aria da Capo was produced in 2005 by Ailise O'Neill, who also played one of the three parts. In what may have been a uniquely innovative move, she arranged for the two shepherd parts to be played by two of the three actors who open the play. The other two parts were played by Elliott James-Fisher and Katerina Alkalis.

Ailise had previously been on tour playing the part of Mollie Ralston, the young wife managing the guest house in Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap, the world's longest-running play.

Aria da Capo was published by Harper & Brothers in 1926 as the second of Three Plays. The first edition was published by D. Appleton & Co. in 1921, and an earlier date, 1920, is given on the copyright page, suggesting that one or more of the plays was first published in 1920.

The first play in the book is extremely short and on the surface is simple. Two Slatterns and a King: A Moral Interlude is 12 pages in a small-sized book. A king marries a slovenly woman whom he happened to find once in her life being tidy, whereas the tidy woman was by chance overrun by a dog on the day the king inspected. The message is that chance is powerful and that a sample of one can be dangerously misleading. 

The King's Henchman

I wonder whether Two Slatterns in some small way carried the seed of  Millay's opera, The King's Henchman. They both have kings who are humiliated and two people who compete for the love of a third. The opera was written on commission for Deems Taylor, who begged Millay to write a libretto for which he would write the score. 

The opera opened at the Metropolitan Opera in February 1927 to huge public enthusiasm and critical praise. Lawrence Tibett sang the part  of King Edgar, in his first major Met role. Edward Johnson sang Aethelwold, the King's henchman. Florence Easton was Aelfrida, hypotenuse of the love triangle. It was called the "Best American Opera" by The New York Times. Olin Downes of the Times wrote:
At the end of the [première] performance there was a full twenty minutes of applauding. Mr. Taylor and Miss Millay were acclaimed; then Mr. Tibbett; finally Miss Easton and Mr. Johnson. Mr. Serafin, the stage director, and others implicated had been earlier recognized. There was a pause and a silence when Miss Millay said, "I thank you. I love you all," with pardonable impulse and sincerity. Mr. Taylor hesitated, then blurted out, "That's just what I was going to say."
It had 28 performances at the Met and toured the nation. The published version sold out four versions in weeks. The opera should be revived–the year 2017 will be the 90th anniversary of the première and the 50th anniversary of the death of Deems Taylor.

The third, five-act, play in Millay's book is The Lamp and the Bell.  It is set, like The King's Henchman, in Anglo-Saxon Britain. In fact the story in The King's Henchman is much like that of The Lamp and the Bell. The difference, Millay's biographer Nancy Milford explains, is that "the bond was between two men [in the opera] and not between stepsisters" (p. 287).

Reviving the King's Henchman?

I was recently speaking with Riva Freifeld, who is working on a documentary on Millay, and Michael Cook, Deems' grandson, about reviving the Millay-Deems opera, the first major American opera. 

If anything materializes, I will keep you posted here. Meanwhile, please send any ideas that you might have for getting support for this project to me at

Saturday, November 19, 2016

JANTJES | Descendants of Walrave Boissevain

Five daughters of Walrave Boissevain (1896), L to R:
Antonia (Ton), Ellegonda (Gon), Liese, Mia, and Renée.
Thanks to Noah Sisk for photo and permission to post.
Noah Sisk worked with me on a Boissevain family genealogy last summer as an intern in East Hampton.

He has just sent me some more information on his side of the Boissevain family, the Jantjes. Buckle up; it's complicated.

Gen 6: Jan Boissevain

Noah is a descendant of Jan Boissevain (1836) who gives his name to this line of the family.

The Jantjes played a great role in the Resistance in Holland during World War II, as did many of the Charletjes. 

Some family members worked together, although much of what occurred has remained a puzzle because so many people died with their secrets inside.

Although many Boissevains have nicknames to distinguish among them, the simplest way of disambiguation is to provide their year of birth.

The Jantjes are descended from Jan Boissevain (1836), who is in Gen 6, five generations beyond the original Boissevain ancestors, Lucas Bouissavy and Marthe Roux.

Lucas and Marthe escaped from  the Dordogne after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes. They  settled in Amsterdam. Jan was the older brother of Charles Boissevain (1842) the newspaper editor, the head of the Charlestjes. Charles was my mother's grandfather.

Gen 7: Walrave Boissevain

The second-youngest of Jan's nine children was Walrave (1896). He is indicated by an arrow in the excerpt at left above, from the Boissevain family tree.
Walrave was the most prolific of the children of Jan. He was the only one who married twice. Only one of his three older brothers married (Karel Daniel), but three of his older sisters did:
  • Elisabeth Antonia Boissevain married Johannes Hunning.
  • Anna Maria married Gideon den Tex, and they became a big part of the Boissevain family. One of Gideon's sons, Jan den Tex, was a good friend of my mother, and in the 1920s she illustrated his book on windmills; he in turn helped her in the 1950s to formulate the wind vs. power plot among the rural Dutch millers that is featured in the closing chapters of The Winged Watchman, which is about the Nazi occupation of Holland.
  • Petronella (Nella) Boissevain married Adriaan Floris van Hall, and they produced the man who has been called "The Prime Minister of the Resistance", Wally van Hall, and his brother Gijs, who became Mayor of Amsterdam after WW2.
Walrave Boissevain (1876), as mentioned, married twice.

Gen 7: Walrave's First Wife, Maria

By his first wife, Maria Catharina Johanna Blijdenstein (1876) he had a girl, Theodora.

They had two boys, Jan Gideon and Harry.

Both Jan and Harry emigrated to the United States and one of them owned the Boissevain Ranch in Montana.

Harry met with my parents, who became good friends of his  daughter Anna (Nan) and her husband Don Fisk.

I got to know Don well during my years in Washington, D.C. and I attended his funeral in 2015.

Nan's younger brothers were Matthijs (Thijs, 1931, who convened the family reunion in Boissevain, Manitoba) and Harry Jan (1932).

Walrave's first wife Maria  died in childbirth.

Gen 7: Walrave's Second Wife, Romelia

Walrave's second marriage was to Romelia (nicknamed Rommy) Abramina Kalff.

They met in the 1910s at a suffragist meeting in Holland where she played the piano. By this time Eugen Boissevain's wife Inez Milholland was a well- known suffragist in New York City. Also their cousin Maria Pijnappel Boissevain, wife of  Charles E. H. Boissevain, was active in the Dutch suffragist movement (she was the first woman elected to the Dutch Parliament).

L to R: Romelia and Ies Veltman and their mother Gon Boissevain
Veltman. Thanks to Noah Sisk for photo and permission to post.
Walrave's second marriage is the one from which Noah Sisk is descended. The five daughters of Walrave and Rommy are in the photo with which this post opens.

Gen 8: Ellegonda

The photos that follow are both of Ellegonda (Gon) Boissevain, the eldest child of Walrave and Rommy.

In the first photo, Gon is with her two children. The older baby is Romelia (nicknamed Romée) . The smaller baby is Ida Louise (nicknamed Ies, pronounced Ees), who later married Neil Walker; they live in Amsterdam and were on the walking tour that we undertook earlier in 2016.

Ellegonda (Gon) on plane.
This is the only photograph of the two of them as babies, as the family lived in the Dutch East Indies at the time of the Japanese occupation and were placed in a camp for Dutch citizens.

Gon discovered she was pregnant with Ies the same day as the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941, and Ies was later born in an internment camp where she came very close to death. Ies' sister Romelia (Romée) was, coincidentally, born on the same day of the same year (1941) as her cousin Romelia (Rommy), who was with us on the walking tour of Amsterdam.

Noah is the great-great-great grandson of Jan Boissevain (1836), the great-great grandson of Walrave Boissevain (1876), great-grandson of Matthijs (1916), who was the father of Ellegonda (Gon). 

Ellegonda was married twice, first to Ies' father Eduard Veltman, who was reportedly killed in WWII, and second to Arthur Anton Kunzli.

Gen 8: Matthijs and Helen Boissevain
Helen Fisk and Thijs Boissevain, c. 1990.

Matthijs (Thijs) Boissevain married Helen Richmond Fisk. Thijs was actively involved in preparing a catalogue of the descendants of Lucas Bouissavy and the Boissevains in Holland.

Below I have posted a letter he wrote to my mother, Hilda van Stockum, in 1988, when he was in the early stages of his research.

He organized the family reunion in Boissevain, Manitoba, that I attended.

Noah Sisk has kindly sent me a bio of his grandfather Thijs:
Matthijs (Thijs) Gideon Jan Boissevain was born in Amsterdam on April 24, 1916. He expressed a great interest in intellectual pursuits from a very young age, and excelled in his studies. In 1935, Thijs boarded a steamer bound for the United States to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During this time, he found employment as a cowboy at his brother Jan's ranch in Montana. He graduated in 1938 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Thijs worked at MIT for several years while pursuing his doctorate, when he was assigned to work on the Manhattan Project. He married Helen Richmond Fisk in 1940 and had six children. Thijs later moved the family to the New London area to take a position at Electric Boat, becoming a chief engineer on the USS Seawolf nuclear submarine. He became active in local civic and social affairs, as a leading figure in numerous clubs and organizations. Throughout his life, he possessed a deep interest in genealogy, categorizing nearly 2,300 members of the Boissevain family via personal computer, which was uncommon in the early 1990s. He died, accomplished and respected, surrounded by his family in 1998.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

CONSERVATION | Nov. 13–Ballinger-Pinchot Split

Richard Ballinger
This day in 1909, Colliers magazine accused Interior Secretary Richard Ballinger of backsliding on conservation in Alaskan coal lands. The ensuing Ballinger-Pinchot dispute/scandal reflected the ongoing tension between those who emphasized immediate use of natural resources and those seeking to  conserve them for future generations.

The controversy is highly relevant today when President-elect Trump is a climate change sceptic while the Republican party has strong conservationist roots dating back at least to Theodore Roosevelt, who on March 14, 1903 created the first National Wildlife Refuge (Pelican Island) and continuing to President Richard Nixon, who appointed the first Commissioner (William Ruckelshaus) to head to Environmental Protection Agency, and the surprisingly aggressive conservationist George W. Bush.

Gifford Pinchot
The Ballinger-Pinchot split pitted U.S. Forest Service Chief Gifford Pinchot and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Richard Achilles Ballinger. It drove apart the Republican Party before the 1912 presidential election, resulting in two GOP candidates (President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt) in 1912, throwing the election to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

Taft in March 1909 replaced TR's Interior Secretary, James Rudolph Garfield, with Richard Ballinger, a former Mayor of Seattle who had served as Commissioner of the General Land Office (GLO) under Secretary Garfield. Within weeks of taking office, Ballinger reversed some of Garfield's policies, restoring 3 million acres to private use. By July 1909, Gifford Pinchot, who had run the U.S. Forest Service since it had taken over management of forest reserves from the General Land Office in 1905, became convinced that Ballinger was bent on a plan to "stop the conservation movement".

By 1909, TR, Pinchot, and other conservationists feared Taft and Ballinger were seeking to reverse  their accomplishments. The Colliers article charged that Ballinger improperly used his office to help the Guggenheims and other powerful interests illegally gain access to Alaskan coal fields. Despite having stayed on as chief forester in the Taft administration, Pinchot openly criticized Ballinger and Taft, claiming they were violating principles of conservation and democracy.

Taft immediately fired Pinchot. After returning from his famous African safari, Roosevelt decided that Taft had betrayed him and had to be ousted. Roosevelt mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Taft on the independent Bull Moose ticket in 1912, but succeeded in denying him reelection.

Subsequent scholarship suggests that while Taft and Ballinger were undoubtedly less committed to conservation than TR and Pinchot, Ballinger may not have technically misused the power of his office.

The Pinchot family was involved in the circles that Inez Milholland and her husband Eugen Boissevain frequented, especially Amos Pinchot, nephew of Gifford Pinchot. Inez Milholland gave her life in 1916 in her effort to unseat Woodrow Wilson in his second term, because he would not support the Anthony Amendment (votes for women, which was eventually supported by Wilson after Inez's death, and became the 19th Amendment in 1920).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

INEZ | Collapse in LA, 100 Years Ago

Inez Milholland Boissevain on board ship,
probably 1916. Photo L.O.C.
October 23, 2016–This day in 1916 Inez Milholland Boissevain gave her last public speech. The Los Angeles Herald story of Inez's collapse, which ran the next day, Oct. 24 (p. 6), is headlined: "Collapse of Mrs. Inez Milholland Boissevain at Lecture to Delay Campaign". The story continues:

Too ill to lift her head from the pillow following her collapse during a speech at Blanchard Hall last night, Inez Milholland Boissevain, New York suffrage beauty, will be halted in her transcontinental political campaign against the Democratic party. Under the care of her beautiful sister, Miss Vida Milholland, and a doctor, the famous suffragist will remain in Los Angeles for several days, confined to her bed. Although extremely ill and in great pain, Mrs. Boissevaln still championed her cause today.

With a magnificent glory of black hair falling around her white shoulders and over her pillow, dressed in a negligée of sapphire chiffon, she told of the many thrilling experiences she has had under the suffrage banner and what she expects to do in the future. Although she wants the vote more than anything else and her husband, a foreigner, has taken out his first naturalization papers, Mrs. Boissevain will not accept her enfranchisement at his hands.

"I certainly did not wish to lose my citizenship through marriage and I don't want to gain It that way.” she said. “Why should I? So Mr. Boissevain, at my especial request, has not taken out his final papers. He will wait until I can gain my own enfranchisement so that when I get the vote it will he because it is my right and not through his. I would rather wait until we have secured suffrage In New York and I have put through my first bill. That will be to make it a law that no woman loses her citizenship by marrying a foreigner unless she declares her intention of doing so at the time of her marriage. When I am enfranchised this way, by my own right, rny husband will continue the naturalization procedure.

“London suffragists are going to be enfranchised at the end of this war, but they never would have it they had not advertised beforehand what they wanted. We have to advertise. It is for this reason that I have led the New York women in parades, and in campaigns where we wrote 'Votes for Women' in chalk on the sidewalks.

"No London assault of suffragists was ever worse than the way in which the American suffragists were treated in Chicago the day they made their silent demonstration to President Wilson," Mrs. Boissevain declared.

“The London women were ridden down by mounted police and brutally treated. So were the women in Chicago. I have received letters telling me about it, and one woman wrote that she was knocked down and her teeth crushed out. It is horrible."

Mrs. Boissevain has participated in several London suffragette activities, at one time aiding in an attempt to storm Parliament. On that occasion she was saved from arrest and imprisonment by the mounted police, through the aid of a friendly policeman who hid her behind a large statue in a park until the authorities had passed on. “American men are more chivalrous to women than the English are, though,” Mrs. Boissevain concluded, “and if the enfranchised women will only give us a square deal we will win our national amendment soon.”

Related Posts: Eugen Jan Boissevain Bio .

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

INEZ | Oct. 4, 1916–Alva Belmont Sees Inez Off (Updated Nov. 7, 2016)

Alva Vanderbilt Belmont (L) and
 Inez Milholland Boissevain.
Oct. 4, 1916.
Alva Belmont saw Inez off on her trip west with her sister Vida to rally the pioneer women in the new States where their right to vote in Federal elections was recognized.

Her departure for the west was covered as follows in The New York Times on the day she left:
Mrs. Inez Milholland Boissevain will start today on an anti-Wilson speaking tour, which will cover every important town in the States where women have the franchise. Mrs. Boissevain said yesterday she was the last of more than a hundred suffragists who have left New York this Summer on similar missions. Mrs. Boissevain will make her first speech in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Belmont was entitled to be by the side of Inez because she was the first-named contributor to the campaign for suffrage organized by the Congressional Union, which was described in a 1916 New York Times story as a "wing" of the National Woman's Party. The total 2016 revenue for the Congressional Union was $111,423 ($2.5 million in the dollars of a century later).

The other two women named first among the givers in 1916 were two other New Yorkers, Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer and Mrs. Elon Hooker. The only two men named as major donors were James Couzens of Michigan and New Yorker John Milholland, Inez's father.

When the finance committee of the C.U. was reorganized in late 1916, it was placed under three New Yorkers: Alice Carpenter, Chairman; Mrs. John W. Brannan, Treasurer; and Doris Stevens, for many years personal secretary to Alva Belmont.

Belmont also financed activities of labor organizers concerned about the working conditions of women in the garment industry.

L to R: Alva, Inez and Alice Paul.
(Library of Congress.)
Born in Mobile, Ala., she came to New York and married sequentially two of New York's wealthiest men, William K. Vanderbilt and Oliver H. P. Belmont (his father was banker August Belmont and his mother was Commodore Matthew Perry's daughter). She lived on Fifth Avenue and also built a castle at Sands Point, L.I. that is said to be the model for the Great Gatsby's Long Island home. She was a major supporter of aggressive action for women's rights in New York State and the National Woman's Party in Washington. Her support of women's causes may well be the reason the New York State was the first state to vote for women suffrage.

Belmont and Milholland had worked together on the garment workers strike in 1909, when Milholland was in her first year at NYU Law School.

Inez's trip to the West was also financed by her father, John E. Milholland. He had a reason for not wanting President Wilson re-elected because he had denounced Wilson's Postmaster-General for slavery-like conditions on his properties in the West.

A devout Presbyterian and a Lincoln Republican, John E. Milholland believed he was bidden by God to speak out against racism.

Sources include: 
"Mrs. Boissevain Off Today," New York Times, October 4, 1916.
"Financing the Federal Campaign," The Suffragist, Jan. 31, 1917.

INEZ LTRS | Oct. 9, 1916–EJB to IMB Letter

EJB to IMB (Eugen Jan Boissevain to Inez Milholland Boissevain), Undated, Probably Oct. 9, 1916 [2 of 11 in October; the dates of Eugen's letters are a puzzle]. Annotations by JT Marlin.

[Inez Milholland Boissevain's first speech was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The green line is the main
Union Pacific RR. The red line is the Utah & Northern RR, which connects Salt Lake City with
Butte and Helena, Mont. and became part of UPRR. Thanks to Spellerweb.]

Exporters & Importers
27 William Street, New York


     I sent you today the blouse & stationery c/o Mrs. Pintus, Salt Lake City. [Envelope dated Oct. 10 was sent to Mrs. W. D. Ascough, c/o Dr. Mark Dean, Helena, Montana, which maybe would be the next stop.]
     I am going tonight to a "première" of a play [The Walker's Auto-Da-Fé] by [Arturo M.] Giovannitti with Art Young & Mrs. [The  play is a monologue, the 1912 address to the jury following the Lawrence, Mass. "Bread and Workers" Strike. Giovannitti was a poet who came to the United States in 1900 and became a "Wobbly", a member of Industrial Workers of the World.] We dine together at the Brevoort. [The Café Brevoort, once at 11 Fifth Avenue, in the hotel of the same name, was from 1902 to 1933 owned by Raymond Orteig, who put up the $25,000 prize money for which Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. Frequent visitors included Mark Twain and Eugene O'Neill.]
     Crystal [Eastman] married Walter Fuller two months ago [nowhere was I able to find the date of this wedding; must not have been well attended].
     Nothing known re Stielow [mentally challenged upstate man convicted hastily of murder of a visitor to the community with frail evidence, defended vigorously by Inez Milholland]. Will wire you as soon as I know.–Keeping in touch with the chief, or rather Miss Phoebe.–

Related Posts: Eugen Jan Boissevain Bio . Oct. 23, Inez Collapses in LA .

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

CENTENNIAL | Sep 7–Catt's Atlanta Speech (Updated Apr 6, 2017)

Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947), née Carrie Clinton Lane.
She gave a rousing speech for suffrage in 1916, as the National
Woman's Party was touring the country for Votes for Women.
Sep 7, 2016—This day 100 years ago, in Atlanta, Carrie Chapman Catt gave one of the great speeches of the 20th century.

She was trying to get women to support a federal suffrage amendment.

Her goal was to rally her suffragist troops in one of the most difficult parts of the country.  

She was born Carrie Clinton Lane on January 9, 1859 in Ripon, Wisc. (birthplace also of the Republican Party).

Carrie was the only woman in her class of 1880 from Iowa State College. She graduated first in her class. 

She became a teacher and then Superintendent of Schools in Mason City, Iowa and married newspaper editor Leo Chapman in 1885. Chapman, sadly, died of typhoid fever a year later. 

In 1890, Carrie was married again, to Iowa State alum George Catt, an engineer. Their pioneering prenup allowed her to devote two months in the spring and two months in the fall to suffrage issues. That same year, the two main U.S. organizations advocating suffrage, the NWSA and the AWSA, came together as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) through the work of Anna Howard Shaw and others.

In 1894, Carrie Catt supported Susan B. Anthony’s argument that the existing U.S. electoral system included many ignorant men who posed “great danger” to America, while excluding many educated women.  In the face of strong resistance in southern states to adding more people to the electorate, Anthony and Catt considered some kind of educational test or standard that would allow educated women to replace less-educated men.

Anthony in 1900 selected Catt to be her successor as president of NAWSA in 1900-1904. Catt decided that the organization was diffusing its resources by plodding along in every state. To  speed things up, she decided to focus all of the organization's resources on getting a federal amendment.  Subsequently labeled her “Winning Plan,” she sought to prioritize and refocus NAWSA's work  in different states: 
  • In states that had passed legislation recognizing women's right to vote in presidential elections, mostly in the West, NAWSA sought passage of a federal suffrage (Anthony) amendment.
  • In states that did not have presidential suffrage, but where there was a prospect of successfully amending their state constitution, NAWSA pressed for a referendum.
  • In most other states, NAWSA worked toward presidential suffrage via the legislature.
  • In Southern states, where prospects were weak, NAWSA just sought suffrage in the primaries.
Catt resigned her position as NAWSA president in 1904 to look after her ailing husband George Catt. He died in 1905, leaving Carrie with an independent income; four months later, in February 1906, Susan B. Anthony died. 

Anna Howard Shaw took over NAWSA between 1904 and 1915 and by the end of her presidency NAWSA had 44 state auxiliaries, each with local branches, and more than two million members.  

In the first decade of the 20th century, NAWSA was based primarily in New York City, where several large donors were located. In December 1912 NAWSA hired Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, who had recently been in London and had worked with the Pankhursts on suffrage campaigns, to revitalize NAWSA's Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C. This morphed after the successful parade of March 1913 into the more independent Congressional Union and then in 1916 into the National Woman’s Party, as its activist leaders (notably Paul and Burns) parted ways from the larger and slower-moving NAWSA. 

Catt once again headed up NAWSA in the key years 1915-1920, and at President Wilson's request in 1917 pledged that NAWSA would support the war effort.  Catt created war-effort departments within NAWSA including Food Conservation, Protection of Women in Industry, and Overseas Hospitals. Catt herself also served in the Women’s Division of the Liberty Loan Committee. The first-ever Congresswoman, pacifist Jeanette Rankin, took her seat at that time. Although Congress took up little legislation unrelated to the war, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in creating a Woman Suffrage Committee, and NAWSA participated in hearings of the Senate's Woman Suffrage Committee. 

NAWSA volunteers were not always available for ongoing suffrage work on the amendment because many had volunteered for war service on the home front. Women’s support for the war effort was one argument used in favor of suffrage when Wilson changed his mind and supported a suffrage amendment in 1917. 

The Congressional Union included many pacifists like Dorothy Day, Crystal Eastman and Inez Milholland who did not support the war effort and focused only on suffrage. After World War I, Catt became a leader in work for world peace.

The House passed the Anthony Amendment on January 10, 1918, after a Congressional speech of support by President Wilson and much effort by suffragists. Catt was received by President Wilson for congratulations and thanks shortly after the vote. When the Amendment was finally passed by both houses of Congress (on the third try) in 1919, Catt led NAWSA’s coast-to-coast effort for its ratification by the then-minimum of 36 states. 

In 1920, having achieved its goal, NAWSA was replaced by the League of Women Voters, which had been founded the previous year.  The League was created to educate the electorate in a non-partisan manner, to register voters, and to encourage women to run for office. Catt’s exceptional organizational skills were vital to achieving American women’s right to vote, and to ensuring that women participate in the electoral and governing process.

Catt developed a strong international presence. In 1902 Catt co-founded and served as president until 1923 of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, active today as the International Alliance of Women. Although she won favor with President Wilson for her work with the American war effort, she later became an active leader for world peace and when she died in 1947 she left her significant estate, including many books, to form the Iowa State Peace Library.

Atlanta Speech Excerpt

Here is an excerpt from the end of the speech that Catt gave in Atlanta 100 years ago, one of two by Catt that rate as among the top 100 speeches of the 20th century:
Shall we play the coward … and leave the hard knocks for our daughters, or shall we throw ourselves into the fray, bare our own shoulders to the blows, and thus bequeath to them a politically liberated womanhood. 
We have taken note of our gains and of our resources! and they are all we could wish. Before the final struggle, we must take cognizance of our weaknesses. Are we prepared to grasp the victory? Alas, no! our movement is like a great Niagara with a vast volume of water tumbling over its ledge but turning no wheel. Our organized machinery is set for the propagandistic stage and not for the seizure of victory. 
Our supporters are spreading the argument for our cause; they feel no sense of responsibility for the realization of our hopes. Our movement lacks cohesion, organization, unity and consequent momentum. 
Behind us, in front of us, everywhere about us are suffragists–millions of them, but inactive and silent. They have been "agitated and educated" and are with us in belief. 
  • There are thousands of women who have at one time or another been members of our organization but they have dropped out because, to them the movement seemed negative and pointless. Many have taken up other work whose results were more immediate. Philanthropy, charity, work for corrective laws of various kinds, temperance, relief for working women and numberless similar public services have called them. Others have turned to the pleasanter avenues of club work, art or literature. 
  • There are thousands of other women who have never learned of the earlier struggles of our movement. They found doors of opportunity open to them on every side ... but they feel neither gratitude to those who opened the doors through which they have entered to economic liberty nor any sense of obligation to open other doors for those who come after.  
  • There are still others who, timorously looking over their shoulders to see if any listeners be near, will tell us they hope we will win and win soon but they are too frightened of Mother Grundy to help. There are others too occupied with the small things of life to help. They say they could find time to vote but not to work for the vote. There are men, too, millions of them, waiting to be called.  
These men and women are our reserves. They are largely unorganized and untrained soldiers with little responsibility toward our movement. Yet these reserves must be mobilized. The final struggle needs their numbers and the momentum those numbers will bring. 
Were never another convert made, there are suffragists enough in this country, if combined, to make so irresistible a driving force that victory might be seized at once. 
How can it be done? By a simple change of mental attitude. If we are to seize the victory, that change must take place in this hall, here and now!

Belcher-Hamilton, Lisa. “The League of Women Voters.” Cobblestone, November 1988, pp. 35-6.

Catt, Carrie Chapman, Home of. Carrie Chapman Catt Childhood Home .

Concise Dictionary of American Biography, 5th Edition, Volume 1. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1997, pp. 199-200.

Current Biography 1940. Maxine Block, ed. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1940, pp. 150-152.

Library of Congress, Carrie Chapman Catt Collection.

Morton, T. , Speed the Plough (1798). This comedy led to the contemporary catchphrase "What will Mrs Grundy say?"

National American Women 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Vol. 1. Edward James, ed. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971, pp. 309-13.

National Women’s Hall of Fame, "Women of the Hall".

Reference Library of American Women, Vol.1. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Research, 1999, pp.123-4.

Sherr, Lynn and Jurate Kanzickas. Susan B. Anthony Slept Here: A Guide to American Women’s Landmarks. New York: Random House, 1994.

Turning Point Suffragist Memorial website. Plan for a suffrage memorial in Lorton, Va.

Webster’s American Biographies. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1984, pp. 67-8.

Women’s Almanac. Volume 2: Society. Linda Schmittroth and Mary Reilly McCall, eds. Detroit: UXL – Gale Research, 1997, pp. 250-51.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

BIRTH | Aug. 6–Inez Milholland is 130 (Updated Aug. 25, 2016)

Inez Milholland Boissevain (1886-1916)
This day in 1886, in Brooklyn, N.Y., was born Inez Milholland Boissevain, who gave her life working to persuade President Wilson to support a U.S. constitutional amendment recognizing the right of women to vote.

Women won the right to vote at the Federal level in 1920, four years after she died.

Milholland was a graduate of Vassar College and NYU Law School who also fought for the rights of working-class women, spoke out for racial equality, and worked for prison reform.

At Vassar, her suffrage meetings were banned from the campus, so she held them across the street at a Poughkeepsie Cemetery.

For six years, she was involved in the drive for Votes for Women in New York, memorably lobbying state lawmakers and leading annual suffrage parades up Fifth Avenue.

In 1913, she fought for the inclusion of black college women in the Woman Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C., and she famously led it the wearing a cape and crown atop a white horse.

Inez and Eugen Boissevain, 1913
In July 1913, she married Eugen Boissevain (my mother's uncle) in London, asking her friends to keep it a secret. However, someone called the newspapers and it was front-page news the next day. A New York Times editorial called her "the fairest of the Amazons".

In 1916, she became a “Flying Envoy” on a speaking tour of the western states on behalf of the National Woman's Party. In October 1916, after the rhetorical question, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty,” she collapsed before a large audience in Los Angeles, Calif. She died a month later of pernicious anemia.

On Christmas Day, an unprecedented memorial was held for her in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, the first woman to be honored there.

The following  month, suffragists from the National Woman's Party presenting memorials of Milholland's death were rebuffed by President Wilson. They then began picketing the White House and carried her last words on many of their banners. The picketing led to arrests, imprisonment, hunger strikes, forced feeding, national outrage and a change in President Wilson's mind (not his first). The 19th Amendment was ratified by the last required state (Tennessee) in August 1920.

Inez Milholland Boissevain personified the goal of Votes for Women.

Monday, August 22, 2016

EUGEN | Guglielmo Marconi, Friend and Relative

Dr. Marc Raboy's new book on Guglielmo Marconi published by the Oxford University Press has just appeared. It was reviewed yesterday by Greg Milner (author of Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture and Our Minds).

Prof. Raboy holds the Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, in the Media and Communications Department of Art History and Communications at McGill University in Montreal.

Raboy credits me with providing some details in his book about Marconi's mother's family that I sent to him in an email on July 26, 2012. I am posting here information I sent, in the hope that it will be useful to other researchers on the Milhollands, the Boissevains or the Marconis.

My link to Raboy was Linda Lumsden, who wrote a fine biography of Inez Milholland–book that made it unnecessary for me to rush out my own book into the void I saw about her life story.  Instead, I worked on a play about her that was first produced in New York City Hall, then migrated to Rochester, and was then produced as a staged reading in Inez Milholland's birthplace, Lewis, N.Y.  (Linda was kind enough to attend this event.) This year is the centennial of Inez Milholland's death and I am rewriting my play for a group in the Washington, D.C. area that is interested in producing it.

In my email to Prof. Raboy, I cited several connections between Eugen Boissevain and Guglielmo Marconi. Here is a slightly edited version of what I told him in 2012: 

1. Both were engaged to Inez, Guglielmo for a few months and Eugen for the rest  of her short life. Guglielmo expected Inez and Eugen to hit it off. (He had a hunch she would go for a hunk.) My mother Hilda van Stockum was Eugen's niece and told me used to tell me things that Eugen passed on to her. Apparently Guglielmo told Eugen that he was passing his old flame onto him because she needed someone like Eugen–someone more masculine (or "stronger" may have been the way he put it) than he, Guglielmo, was. Eugene's bother Robert had been in New York already for some time and already knew Inez through his second wife (who had been personal secretary to Alma Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, a big funder of the woman suffrage movement), so Eugen was well-informed about the woman he was to meet for the first time at the Holland House in June 1913.

2. Both liked going to Irish pubs. They engaged in an Irish-pub crawl in New York and from the context it was not the first such evening out that they spent together.

3. Eugen worked for Guglielmo's company, Marconi Wireless, for a while in London–probably working with investors, which I think of as Guglielmo's obsession, although I may be projecting onto the Marconi company the worries of Inez's father about the Batcheller company. The Bankers' Panic of 1907-08 was similar to that of 2008-09 so they would still be facing risk-averse investors.

4. Both were intellectually curious. But Guglielmo was more a nerdy scientist and Eugen was more a wide-ranging free-thinker, which is the biggest thing that John E. Milholland held against him.

5. Both had Irish mothers who were first cousins from the Jameson family in Ireland, still famed for their whiskey. The Jamesons were distinguished in Ireland because of the brand was well-known and well-loved and  because they were enriched by sales of their product. They were also Protestant Irish. In New York City Protestant circles the Jameson product might have been less highly regarded because a Protestant Irishman like John E. Milholland might well have been a Prohibitionist. (It was Prohibition that united Catholics and Jews against the Protestants.)  My nephew Chris Oakley in London wrote up an explanation of the relationship between the two Jameson mothers. The Jameson family came together during the summers at Glen Lodge on the edge of Lake Sligo in Northwest Ireland. My mother has visited there many summers. Sligo (which means "abundant in sea shells") is the largest urban area in northwest Ireland. Sligo is three-quarters Catholic, but the sympathies of the Jamesons during the 1910s and 1920s would have gravitated to the British. (It is a county in the Province of Connacht, one of the four provinces of the Éire Republic. The nine Ulster counties, six of which constituted the Northern Ireland Province of the United Kingdom, are immediately to the east.)

See also related posts: Let's Get that Mountain Renamed . Recognizing Stanton and Anthony . Aug. 6–Milholland's 130th Birthday . How Did Eugen Meet Inez?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

VOTES FOR WOMEN | July 19–Seneca Falls Convention

Site of Wesleyan Chapel, Seneca Falls.
At the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, N.Y., a woman’s rights convention–the first ever held in the United States–convened in 1848 with almost 200 women in attendance.

Why It Was Organized

The convention was initiated by Quaker Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, previously united in opposition to slavery.

They first met at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Even though Mott was a full delegate, both Mott and Stanton were barred from the convention floor because they were women. Their anger flared and then simmered for eight years.

When Mott visited Stanton in 1848, they arranged for a tea at the home of Mary Ann McClintock. Also attending were Martha Wright and Jane Hunt. Together the group decided to advertise (on July 14 in the Seneca County Courier) a women’s conference to be held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls. The announcement read:
A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women will be held in the Wesleyan Chapel, at Seneca Falls, N.Y., on Wednesday and Thursday, the 19th and 20th of July current; commencing at 10 o’clock A.M. During the first day the meeting will be exclusively for women, who are earnestly invited to attend. The public generally are invited to be present on the second day, when Lucretia Mott, of Philadelphia, and other ladies and gentlemen, will address the Convention. 
What Happened

On July 19, 200 women and some men convened at the Chapel, and Stanton read the “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances,” which she had drafted over the previous few days, modeled on the American Declaration of Independence, which in turn is widely believed to have been modeled on the 1320 Scottish Declaration of Arbroath. The preamble of Stanton's Declaration began:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights… 
The Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances detailed injustices to U.S. women and called upon women to petition for their rights. The men who attended the first day, even though they were only invited for the second day, were allowed to stay. One of them spoke–Frederick Douglass, who urged the women to introduce the suffrage demand.  Stanton favored it, but Mott was opposed.

On the second day the Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances was adopted and signed by the assembly. The convention also passed 12 resolutions–11 unanimously–which called for specific equal rights for women. The ninth resolution, on suffrage (“It is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise”) was the one of the 12 that was passed over opposing arguments.

The Seneca Falls Convention was followed two weeks later by a larger meeting in Rochester, N.Y. After 72 years, the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920, recognizing the Federal rights of American adult women to vote.

Related Posts

Inez Milholland—Herald Uniform . Her Engagement to Marconi . Short Biopic on Her