Remembering Inez: The Last Campaign of Inez Mulholland, Suffrage Martyr, Selections from The Suffragist, 1916 by Robert P.J. Cooney, Jr., editor.
This is an odd little book. Edited by the author of a comprehensive and adult-focused tome about the women’s suffrage movement, Winning the Vote: The Triumph of the American Woman Suffrage Movement, this 90-page gem is billed as a “brief tribute” which “pays homage to this fallen leader and her last campaign.” The introduction has a brief biographical about Ms. Mulholland, but the first part of the book is made up of the text of her famous speech, “Appeal to the Women Voters of the West”, in which she asked the women in western states where women’s suffrage was already in place to vote against Democrat candidates for national office because those Democrats had promised women the vote but had not done anything to make that happen. In particular Inez Mullholland railed against presidential candidate Woodrow Wilson, who said that, although he supported woman suffrage, he could not do anything about votes for women until the women themselves convinced the majority of Democrats to back their right to vote.
The rest of the book is a series of articles and obituaries from The Suffragist, a weekly publication of the National Woman’s Party. Inez Mulholland died in 1916 at the age of thirty. She died of pernicious anemia, a “martyr” in the eyes of her fellow suffragists. I doubt that she and I would have seen eye to eye on many issues.
However, I was reminded of the current political and social controversies as I read of the dehumanization of women that Mulholland and others preached so forcefully against.
“There are people who honestly believe—honestly believe!—and they are not only Democrats—that there are more important issues before the country than
abortionsuffrage, and that (it) would be very becoming on our part to say nothing more of the matter, to retire at this time and take the crumbs from the table—if there are any. Now I do not know what you feel about such a point of view, whether it finds sympathy among you,—but it makes me mad!
infantswomen no part in the world’s issues? Have theywe no brains? Have theywe no heart? Have theywe no capacity for suffering? Have theywe no needs? Have we hopes? To believe that theywe have no right to breathepart in the determining of national events is to believe that babies in the wombwomen are not human beings.
Now there are people that do not believe that
babieswomen are human beings . . . But I believe, and every woman of spirit and independence believes, that babieswomen are human beings, with a definite part to play in the shaping of human events.”
The parallels should have been obvious even without my strikeout substitutions. We dehumanize and deny basic rights to others at our own peril. Inez Mulholland is remembered partly for her poignant question which was taken up as a banner slogan by the woman suffrage movement, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” I would ask, “Mr. President and citizens of this country, how long must babies wait for the basic right to live?”