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.

1 comment:

  1. Inez Milholland Boissevain was very close to Alva Belmont, who was a major funder of women's causes. Belmont partially financed the trip west by Inez and her sister Vida. Their father John E. Milholland also provided funding.

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