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National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York (Wikimedia Commons)

While actively pushing to suppress mail-in voting, President Donald Trump sought to appeal to women voters by posthumously pardoning Susan B. Anthony, the women’s suffragist who was arrested and fined $100 after voting illegally in 1872. But this attempt failed miserably as the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York immediately rejected the presidential pardon.

Frances Benjamin Johnston’s 1890 photographic portrait of Susan B. Anthony (Library of Congress)

Trump made the announcement on Tuesday, August 18, during a White House ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment that gave many women the right to vote.

“She was never pardoned!” the president exclaimed in a press briefing while surrounded by First Lady Melania Trump and members of the Women Suffrage Centennial Commission.

“Did you know that she was never pardoned? What took so long?” he asked the applauding women on stage. They laughed at his questions.

But what Trump doesn’t understand is that by pardoning Anthony, he legitimized the “criminality” of her attempt to vote, according to Deborah L. Hughes, president & CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House.

“Objection! Mr. President, Susan B. Anthony must decline your offer of a pardon today,” Hughes wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

“[Anthony] was outraged to be denied a trial by jury,” Hughes explained .”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 noted that Anthony was “a strong proponent of sex education, fair labor practices, excellent public education, equal pay for equal work, and elimination of all forms of discrimination” — values that might not align with Trump’s worldview.

“If one wants to honor Susan B. Anthony today, a clear stance against any form of voter suppression would be welcome,” Hughes suggested.

“Support for the Equal Rights Amendment would be well received. Advocacy for human rights for all would be splendid.”

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...