President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that he will be pardoning suffragist Susan B. Anthony on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. The announcement came after the president had teased Monday aboard Air Force One that he would pardon someone "very, very important."
According to the BBC, the president announced the full pardon at a White House event Tuesday as he signed a proclamation commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women in the United States the right to vote. With wife Melania Trump at his side, the president noted that Anthony "was never pardoned" and asked, "what took so long?"
Anthony was arrested in 1872 after she cast a vote in the presidential election in her hometown of Rochester, New York. She was charged with "knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully" voting. An all-male jury later convicted her following a two-day trial, during which Anthony gave a speech criticizing the government for barring women from voting. She was sentenced to pay a fine of $100, which she vowed never to pay, and court costs. Although the trial thrust her onto center stage of the national movement, and she would go on to merge the country's two largest suffragette groups, Anthony died 14 years before the 19th amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920.
Trump's pardon comes after he announced last week his support for a bill that would create a monument in Washington to honor suffragists and the 19th amendment. Introduced by Rep. Joe Neguse, according to USA Today, the legislation would establish a 22-foot monument called "Every Word We Utter" to pay tribute to women who fought for their right to vote. It would include depictions of Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Ida B. Wells and Alice Paul.
According to The New York Times, "people close to the president said that Mr. Trump was seeking to create a news story during the Democrats' convention, where Mr. Biden will be nominated." Unlike his previous pardons, advisers believe "it will be harder to criticize an action benefiting a woman whose actions helped lead to women's right to vote." Despite that, however, the president is facing plenty of criticism amid U.S. Postal Service disruption, which some have claimed are an effort to disrupt the 2020 presidential election amid the president’s outcry against mail-in voting.