Presidential pardon from Susan B. Anthony vote for sale at auction


Ulysses S. Grant’s 1874 pardon for the election officials who allowed Susan B. Anthony to vote. (Photo: Sotheby’s)

After Susan B. Anthony illegally cast a ballot in the 1872 presidential election, pardons were issued to the three election officials who were convicted for allowing her to register.

Now, against all odds, it seems more pardons for the incident will be available in 2020 than were first handed out in 1874.

President Donald Trump issued a belated pardon for Anthony earlier this year, much to the dismay of the Susan B. Anthony House. And the original document that President Ulysses S. Grant signed in 1874 to pardon the three election officials is now available for purchase at auction.

FileOn Nov. 5, 1872, Susan B. Anthony attempted to cast a vote for Ulysses S. Grant. Susan B. Anthony DC 2-15-93. Susan B. Anthony was born in 1820, organized the National Women’s Suffrage Association in 1869, and was a lecturer and active campaigner for women suffrage till her death in 1906.

The starting bid is $28,000 and the auction closes at noon Wednesday. Sotheby’s, which is running the auction, estimates the signed document will fetch at least $40,000, though it has no bids yet.

Anthony and other women voted at a polling place on West Main Street after persuading three local election officials — Beverly Jones, Edwin Marsh and William Hall — that the recently adopted 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave them the right, even though New York state law forbade it.

Anthony and the officials were convicted and fined. Anthony refused to seek a pardon, or to pay the fine, but helped advocate for the other three to be pardoned.

The pardon itself, which is yellowed and chipped at the edges but otherwise in good condition, comes from the renowned historical document collection of the late Elsie and Philip Sang. Also up for auction are signed letters from Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Abigail Adams, among many others.

Nora Ray puts her mother’s sticker on Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo: Tina MacIntyre-Yee)

Grant, whom Anthony had supported with her forbidden ballot, issued the pardon to the three men “in view of the peculiar circumstances of their offence.” It is also signed by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, who earlier had served as governor of New York.

It was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment, by which time Anthony was dead.

Contact staff writer Justin Murphy at [email protected] 

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