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Susan B. Anthony Museum Rejects Trump’s Pardon & Urges Protection Of Voting Rights

The museum that honors the late women’s suffrage leader is objecting to Trump pardoning Anthony’s arrest for illegally voting, saying it validates her charge.

Portrait of suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony | Getty Images
Portrait of suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony | Getty Images

The museum dedicated to late voting rights activist Susan B. Anthony has rejected President Trump’s pardon of the suffragette, arguing that it legitimizes the charge against her. The museum also promoted voting rights, as controversy swirls around the president’s role in suppressing vote-by-mail during a pandemic.

Trump announced Tuesday that he would pardon Anthony, who was arrested in 1872 for illegally voting as a woman and tried before a jury of all men. She was fined $100 for her crime. 

The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House responded to Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, writing: “Objection! Mr. President, Susan B. Anthony must decline your offer of a pardon today.”

Museum president and CEO Deborah L. Hughes said in a statement that Anthony wrote in her diary that her trial was “the greatest outrage history ever witnessed.”

According to the museum’s website, the judge presiding over Anthony’s trial didn’t allow her to speak and ordered the jury to find her guilty. She also refused to pay the penalty. Hughes told the Washington Post that the White House never consulted the national museum before pardoning her. 

“To pardon her for it is to give validity to the trial,” Hughes continued. “And as the national historic landmark that bears her name, it would have been reasonable to consult with us.”

Figures of the women’s suffrage movement have become increasingly controversial over the years, as historians have argued that white leaders including Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Carrie Chapman Catt were unsupportive of Black men and women’s right to vote in their quest for equal rights. 

Anthony herself withdrew her support the 15th Amendment, which granted Black men the right to vote, and said, “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.” 

The museum has said Anthony worked for years as an abolitionist, and historians including Ann Gordon, who edited a book on Anthony and Stanton, have argued that her words have been misinterpreted, rejecting “the idea that she was racist,” the Washington Post reported.

Hughes went on to say in her statement to Trump that if anyone wanted to honor Anthony, they could take a stand “against any form of voter suppression,” including “enforcement and expansion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” 

“Anthony was also a strong proponent of sex education, fair labor practices, excellent public education, equal pay for equal work, and elimination of all forms of discrimination,” Hughes continued. “Support for the Equal Rights Amendment would be well received. Advocacy for human rights for all would be splendid.”

Voting rights have become a contentious issue as the 2020 presidential election approaches. With the COVID-19 pandemic still spreading across the U.S., more Americans are expected to vote by mail. 

The Trump administration has been accused of trying to suppress voters by cutting funding to the United States Postal Service and making baseless claims that vote-by-mail can lead to fraud. Trump has even admitted that he blocked funds to USPS ahead of the election, saying “They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess.”