Born in Massachusetts in 1820, the feminist activist and anti-slavery campaigner Susan B. Anthony grew up to become one of the most important figures in the American fight for women’s suffrage. Arrested for voting illegally in Rochester, New York in 1872, she was convicted in a notorious trial and refused to pay the fine she was subsequently handed. Over a century later, she became the first real-life woman to appear on a U.S. coin. In other words, she was something of a badass.
Rochester’s Mt. Hope Cemetery, where Anthony is buried, has long been a popular destination for American voters. But thanks to the feminist flavour of this year’s election – in which the potential first female president of the US is pitted against the walking embodiment of male privilege – more women than ever are making the pilgrimage to her grave after voting.
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Photos circulating on social media show Anthony’s gravestone covered in the ‘I voted’ stickers handed out at US polling booths. The gesture is lent extra resonance by the fact that Anthony was never able to legally vote, despite dedicating her life to the fight for women’s suffrage: she died in 1906, 14 years before the 19th Amendment to the US constitution granted American women the right to vote.
Mt. Hope Cemetery usually closes at 5.30pm, but will be open until voting ends on Election Day on Tuesday. Visitors to Mt. Hope will be given a commemorative sticker with a photo of Anthony and the words: “I Voted Today Because of Women Like Her.”
“Visiting Susan B. Anthony’s gravesite has become an Election Day rite of passage for many citizens,” Rochester’s mayor, the wonderfully named Lovely Warren, told the Democrat & Chronicle. “With this year’s historically significant election, it seems right to extend that opportunity until the polls close.”
After successfully casting her illegal ballot on 5 November, 1872, Anthony wrote a letter to another famous American suffragist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. “Well I have been & gone & done it!! – positively voted the Republican ticket – strait this a.m. at 7 O’clock,” she said. “If only now – all the women suffrage women would work to this end of enforcing the existing constitution – supremacy of national law over state law – what strides we might make this winter.”
“I can imagine she would have wanted to be part of the significant history this year’s election holds for women,” said Mayor Warren. “It’s only proper that we invited Ms. Anthony to be a part of this important moment.”
Main image: Facebook/Greta Selin-Love/Greta Page-Mann