After President Donald Trump announced that he was pardoning Susan B. Anthony, a move tied to the centennial of women’s suffrage, he got a rebuke from an unexpected source: The museum named in her honor.
The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House declined his pardon, for a 1873 conviction for voting illegally the year before, in a statement that took indirect aim at present-day restrictions on voting rights. The president issued the clemency on Tuesday.
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In a statement, the museum’s president and CEO, Deborah L. Hughes, said, “Anthony wrote in her diary in 1873 that her trial for voting was ‘The greatest outrage History ever witnessed.” She was not allowed to speak as a witness in her own defense, because she was a woman. At the conclusion of arguments, Judge Hunt dismissed the jury and pronounced her guilty. She was outraged to be denied a trial by jury. She proclaimed, ‘I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.’ To pay would have been to validate the proceedings. To pardon Susan B. Anthony does the same.”
Hughes added that a more fitting honor would be “a clear stance against any form of voter suppression would be welcome.
“Enforcement and expansion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would be celebrated, we must assure that states respect the 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments to the United States Constitution,” Hughes said. “Support for the Equal Rights Amendment would be well received. Advocacy for human rights for all would be splendid. 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.”
In granting the pardon, the White House said, “The decision to posthumously pardon Susan B. Anthony removes a conviction for exercising a fundamental American right and one that we as citizens will lawfully employ this November.”
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