The XX Factor

Hundreds Line Up at Susan B. Anthony’s Grave to Honor Her Dream

Portrait of Susan B. Anthony as used in the History of Woman Suffrage by Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Volume I, published in 1881.

Wikimedia Commons

In April, a few dozen voters left their “I Voted” stickers on the tombstone of suffragist Susan B. Anthony’s gravestone after the New York primary. It was a sweet, inspired little gesture. Today, the crowd at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York, is significantly larger. Reporter Sarah Maslin Nir estimated the line was 250 people strong this morning. One visitor said the wait was more than an hour.

The city of Rochester anticipated the influx of pilgrims. Last week, Mayor Lovely Warren—the first female mayor of Rochester, as it happens—announced the cemetery’s hours would be extended to 9 p.m. on Election Day to accommodate the extra visitors. The city planned to install poster boards for the spillover “I Voted” stickers and is handing out its own stickers with a photo of the pioneering suffragist reading, “I Voted Today Because of Women Like Her.”

Visiting Anthony’s grave is way to honor her incredible fortitude. Anthony convinced Rochester election officials to allow her to register and cast a vote for Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. A few months later, she was indicted for voting “without having a lawful right to vote … being then and there a person of the female sex.” The 19th Amendment would not be approved for another 47 years. As Rebecca Onion wrote Monday of Detroit resident Amy Elliott Bragg’s visits to activist grave sites, documented under the hashtag #VisitASuffragist, “The project is a calming reminder of the long view during a presidential election seething with toxic gender politics.”

Anthony had “the long view” covered. She died in 1906 without knowing how this story would end. Today, finally, she may have just a few more hours to wait. In the meantime, the cemetery in Rochester has turned into a jubilant, lively place. A local TV station is live-streaming the crowds at her grave, the modest stone is covered in flowers, flags, stickers, and candles; and well-wishers are pausing to have their pictures taken. Some of them are carrying baby girls. Everyone is smiling, and the sun is shining. It’s a beautiful day.