By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
Susan B. Anthony has been issued a presidential pardon for her 1872 conviction, AP News reported. President Trump issued the pardon on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which happened August 18, 1920. She helped lead the charge for women’s suffrage.
According to AP News, during the virtually-held Democratic National Convention meeting, President Trump pardoned Susan B. Anthony for breaking 19th-century voting laws. “As Democrats gathered virtually, Trump targeted voters in a pair of key swing states and sought to curry favor with women voters by pardoning Susan B. Anthony, a leader in the women’s suffrage movement,” the article said.
“Before leaving Washington, Trump held a White House event to announce the pardon of Anthony, convicted of voting in 1872 in violation of laws permitting only men to vote. Although she refused to pay the fine, the authorities declined to take further action.”
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were key figures in fighting for the right to vote for women. The 19th Amendment, which ensured that right, was passed by Congress in 1919 and ratified a year later. Susan B. Anthony’s earlier life helped mold her into the women’s rights activist known today.
Most of us know that Susan B. Anthony had a role in promoting women’s rights, but that’s where many people’s knowledge of Anthony ends.
“Born in Massachusetts in 1820, she became an anti-slavery activist as a young woman,” said Dr. Allison K. Lange, Associate Professor of History at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. “She joined the women’s rights movement after the famous Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.
“The Declaration of Sentiments was written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and endorsed at the Seneca Falls meeting. Reformers demanded a range of rights for women, from the right to control their money to the right to have a good education, and even the right of suffrage.”
Dr. Lange said that the women’s rights reformers, who Anthony joined, handed out copies of the Declaration of Sentiments to members of the public, while newspapers reprinted it as well. Anthony obtained and read a copy and became friends with Stanton. The two toured the nation giving speeches together and founded the first National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869.
Portrait of a Lady
“In 1876, the nation celebrated 100 years since the Declaration of Independence,” Dr. Lange said. “As Americans reflected on the past, suffragists decided that they needed their own history. Anthony worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage; they edited The History of Women’s Suffrage, a series that eventually included six volumes with about 1,000 pages in each—a very weighty history.”
According to Dr. Lange, one of Anthony’s roles in editing the History was working with women’s rights leaders across the country to select portraits of women to include in the volumes. This was done after Anthony was inspired by Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, who had pictures of themselves in formal dress made in order to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans. Like them, women were portrayed in sexist cartoons as masculine, domineering, and ugly.
“Anthony spent significant time and precious funds to pay for these portraits. She did it so that Americans could see them and find out who the important leaders of the movement were. Similar to Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, Anthony wanted viewers to look at these women and think they were respectable, intelligent figures—suffragists were nothing like the women from the anti-women’s rights cartoons.”
Portraits of suffragettes adorned the History and it became a valuable educational tool to promote the cause of women’s rights.
Dr. Allison K. Lange contributed to this article. Dr. Lange is an Associate Professor of History at Wentworth Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in history from Brandeis University.