‘She was guilty for voting’: Trump pardons iconic US suffragist Susan B. Anthony

Washington: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would pardon Susan B. Anthony, the women's suffragist who was arrested after voting illegally in 1872 and fined $US100, as he tried to appeal to female voters on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving them the right to vote.

Susan B Anthony

Delivered during a heavily political event at the White House at which Trump again disparaged mail-in voting ahead of the November election, the president's announcement also appeared to be an effort to distract from the Democratic National Convention and narrow the historically large gender gap that has him trailing Joe Biden in the White House race.

"She was never pardoned. Did you know that? She was never pardoned," Trump said. "What took so long?"

Anthony was tried for illegally voting and protested the fine she was charged.

"She was guilty for voting," Trump said Tuesday, "and we're going to be signing a full and complete pardon."

Unlike other people the president has pardoned, Anthony is not someone whose work Trump has spoken of during his campaign or his presidency.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, left, arrive at an event marking the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment ratification in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Credit:Bloomberg

She is also an increasingly divisive figure, adopted by anti-abortion forces and criticised for relegating black suffragists to the sidelines. On Tuesday, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion political group, and Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who represents conservative groups, were in attendance as Trump made his announcement.

He has pardoned or granted clemency to a number of people whom he personally knows or whose cases resonate with him, such as Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who was serving a prison sentence related to a conviction on corruption charges.

Trump recently granted clemency to his longtime political adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted on several charges stemming from the investigation into possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

The pardon for Anthony would be the 26th of his presidency and, like most others Trump has issued, it drew criticism from Democrats, including Kathy Hochul, the lieutenant governor of New York.

"As highest ranking woman elected official in New York and on behalf of Susan B. Anthony's legacy we demand Trump rescind his pardon," Hochul wrote on Twitter. "She was proud of her arrest to draw attention to the cause for women's rights, and never paid her fine. Let her Rest In Peace, @realdonaldtrump."

New York Times

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