Today, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) posthumously to Susan B. Anthony, a peerless advocate for women’s suffrage, for a wrongful and unjust conviction stemming from the only vote she ever cast in an election. As we commemorate the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment—known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment—this grant of full clemency recognizes and pays tribute to the advocacy, perseverance, and leadership of a truly remarkable woman and an American hero.
On November 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony, after having been permitted to register to vote, entered a polling location in Rochester, New York, and cast a straight ticket Republican ballot. Two months later, a grand jury in Albany, New York, returned an indictment against her for having voted illegally. At the onset of her trial in June 1873, and in clear violation of her rights to trial by jury and due process, she was convicted by way of a directed verdict issued by the presiding judge—Supreme Court Justice Ward Hunt. During the trial, Justice Hunt stated that “the voting by Miss Anthony was in violation of the law.” After not being permitted to testify on her own behalf, she was finally given the opportunity to speak on the last day of trial. In the most famous speech in the women’s suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony aggressively defended a citizen’s right to vote and compared the denial of such a right to the denial of “sacred rights to life, liberty, property.” Justice Hunt then directed the jury to return a guilty verdict and imposed a $100 fine on Susan B. Anthony as her sentence. Although the suffragette steadfastly refused to pay the unjust fine, Justice Hunt did not have her imprisoned, preventing her from appealing her sentence to a higher court.
Susan B. Anthony is an American icon who has inspired millions of women across the Nation through her advocacy and accomplishments, and the generations of Americans who have devoted themselves to the work of perfecting our union are forever indebted to her example and legacy. 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.
In light of these facts and in recognition of her historic work to improve the justice of our Constitution, the President has concluded that Susan B. Anthony is worthy of this posthumous pardon.