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Susan B Anthony

Susan B Anthony

 

SUSAN B ANTHONY

 

  • On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution that gave American women the right to vote, President Donald Trump announced he would pardon Susan B Anthony, a pioneering feminist leader who had been arrested and fined $100 in 1872 for voting and defying laws that only allowed men to cast a ballot.
  • The move is seen as an effort by Trump to improve his image among women voters, who, opinion polls suggest, are more inclined to vote for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.
  • A lifelong advocate of women’s rights, Anthony is considered among the leading suffragists of the late 19th century.
  • Her efforts ultimately led to the passing of the 19th Constitutional Amendment in 1920 — which some also refer to as the Susan B Anthony Amendment.
  • Born in 1820 into a family that believed in the Quaker tradition of Christianity, Anthony was also a committed abolitionist, and began working for the anti-slavery cause at the age of 17.

WHO IS SHE?

 

  • In its initial years as a nation, the United States had primarily extended the right to vote to men who fulfilled property ownership criteria.
  • Racial bars and the institution of slavery in many parts of the country stopped most non-White men from voting, and women were almost entirely disenfranchised.

Why was Susan B Anthony arrested?

 

  • After the American Civil War (1861–65), the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution was passed in 1868 to grant citizenship to all persons born or naturalised in the country, thus dramatically increasing the number of persons who could enjoy rights such as voting.
  • However, the feminists felt betrayed as most states continued to prohibit women from voting.
  • It was at this time that Anthony, already a towering figure in the suffragist movement, decided to cast her vote in the presidential election of 1872 at Rochester in New York state, defying laws that only permitted men to vote.
  • After she voted, Anthony was arrested and convicted; the judge serving a verdict that had been written even before the trial had started. Anthony refused to pay the $100 fine levied upon her, and authorities chose not to pursue the matter further.

Why was Susan B Anthony arrested?

 

  •  Anthony continued to campaign for women’s suffrage across the US, and individual states increasingly began to recognise these rights. Anthony died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th Amendment was passed.
  • In 1979, Anthony became the first woman to be depicted on a US Dollar coin.

Why has Trump decided to pardon Anthony now?

 

  • Widely criticised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump is currently trailing Biden in opinion polls for the November race.
  • Accused of sexual harassment numerous times, and having made several disparaging remarks against women over the years, Trump lags particularly behind among women voters. By honouring Anthony, Trump is hoping to build a bridge with this voting bloc.
  • The announcement may also be aimed at taking away media attention from the four-day long Democratic National Convention, at which Biden was formally announced as his party’s nominee for president.