Trump to pardon women's suffrage leader Susan B Anthony – The Guardian

  • Anthony was arrested in 1872 for illegally voting
  • Trump pardon marks 100th anniversary of 19th amendment

Susan B Anthony, left, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in this undated photo. Anthony was fined $100 for her illegal act, a half-century before the expansion of the franchise.




Susan B Anthony, left, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in this undated photo. Anthony was fined $100 for her illegal act, a half-century before the expansion of the franchise.
Photograph: AP

Donald Trump has announced he will pardon Susan B Anthony, who was arrested in 1872 for voting, in violation of laws permitting only men to do so.

The act of executive clemency was announced at a White House ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the US constitution, which expanded the right to vote to women.

Anthony was fined $100 for her illegal act, a half-century before the expansion of the franchise.

“Signing a full and complete pardon for Susan B Anthony,” Trump said. “She was never pardoned.”

Trump had announced his intention of pardoning someone “very, very important” in a conversation with reporters on Monday.

In the past, Trump has exercised the power of executive clemency in favor of friends, such as the political strategist Roger Stone and the former police commissioner Bernie Kerik, or Republican favorites, such as the commenter Dinesh D’Souza and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former aide to vice-president Dick Cheney.

Trump has also extended clemency to historical figures such as Jack Johnson, the boxing champion convicted in 1913 of traveling with a white girlfriend.

The selection of Anthony for a posthumous pardon could be meant to address Trump’s yawning popularity gap among women voters. Women voters express a preference for Biden by a margin of 56%-42%.

One of history’s best-known suffragists, Anthony became the first woman to appear on US currency when dollars with her likeness were minted in 1979. During the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton supporters took “I voted” stickers from polling places and stuck them to Anthony’s gravestone.

Trump’s pardon induced a backlash from critics who said defiance of a corrupt law was Anthony’s point and that the president had no business pardoning her.

“As the highest-ranking woman elected official in New York and on behalf of Susan B Anthony’s legacy we demand Trump rescind his pardon,” tweeted Kathy Hochul, the state’s lieutenant governor.

“She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women’s rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest In Peace.”

Anthony was a resident of New York state for much of her life.

She is also regarded as a hero by some evangelical anti-abortion campaigners, a stance which many pro-choice campaigners contest. Members of the Susan B Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, were at the White House on Tuesday.

Though Anthony never publicly spoke for or against abortion, some have attributed to her anti-abortion writing from a writer who went by the letter “A”. Experts deem Anthony’s connection to the writing dubious at best.

In conversation with the Guardian in 2018, meanwhile, David Blight, a Pulitzer-winning biographer of Frederick Douglass, noted the “brutal racism” Anthony and other campaigners displayed when black men won the vote in 1870.

Trump’s focus on a key advocate in the expansion of voting rights comes as he tries to undermine the franchise by attacking mail-in voting and encouraging Republican legislators to make it harder for people to vote.

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