Voters Pay Respect to Suffragist

By Theresa Schliep

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The cemetery put up a poster for visitors to put their “I Voted” stickers on to preserve Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s grave. (Theresa Schliep for The Fordham Ram)

Some voters who waited in line to vote for a presidential candidate Tuesday afternoon did not mind waiting in line twice. Woodlawn Cemetery saw a decent amount of foot traffic as voters visited the grave of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an abolitionist and suffragist famous for presenting the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Convention held in 1848.

Visitors left flowers, took pictures with the monument and placed their “I Voted” stickers on a poster placed next to the grave. One visitor left a note with pictures of her daughter and thanked Stanton for her impact on the women’s suffragist movement. Another left a bouquet of flowers and a Hillary Clinton campaign button.

The membership manager at the cemetery, Anastasija Ocheretine, said most of the visitors were women, and that the cemetery had not seen this kind of traffic in elections of years past.

In an effort to maintain the marble facades of Stanton’s grave, Ocheretine said they put up posters for people’s stickers. Management placed posters next to the graves of three other famous female abolitionists at the cemetery: the graves of Carrie Chapman Catt, Mary Garrett Hay and Alva Vanderbilt Belmont.

Ocheretine credited a lot of the foot traffic to a New York Times article about the grave sites in the Bronx cemetery.

She said that early voters trickled in during the past week and visitors all had different backgrounds of knowledge on the suffragist movement.

“Lots of people are referencing the article, and at least one person came in saying ‘I read about some famous grave and want to see it, but what did she do?” said Ocheretine.
One of the visitors to Stanton’s grave was Meredith Atickinson from Chelsea. She said she visited the cemetery to give thanks to Stanton on the day of this “historic election.”

“Its kind of crazy to me that women have not even been voting for 100 years in America,” said Atickinson. “I’m very grateful for her and the suffragettes. They risked their lives and were beaten, and the fact that I got to vote for the first woman president was very humbling.”

Hayley Williams, also from Chelsea, said it was her first election voting, and it was a poignant one after studying the suffragette movement both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

“I was talking to my mom about how crazy this is, and she was talking about her mom and grandma and how crazy this is,” said Williams.

Another visitor to the grave was Emma Pfeiffer from Queens. She visited the cemetery because she was inspired by a visit to Seneca Falls, the location of the first women’s rights convention in the United States.

“There, people put “I Voted” stickers on [the graves] during the New York primary in April at Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Rochester,” said Pfeiffer. “I realized Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s grave was here in New York and I wanted to pay my respects. It has been very moving to be here and be a part of living history.”

Pfeiffer wore a pantsuit to show her support for Clinton, a self described “pantsuit aficionado.”

Stanton was not unique in her admirers. Anthony, the face of the American suffragist movement, received hundreds of admirers at her grave in Rochester, New York, forcing the cemetery to extend their Election Day hours. Ocheretine said people often associate Stanton with Anthony because of their work together.

“There is rarely an image where the two of them aren’t together,” said Ocheretine.
The cemetery is planning to celebrate Stanton’s 200th birthday on Nov. 12, as well as the hundredth anniversary of the suffragist movement.

Republican candidate Donald Trump won the presidential election early Wednesday morning.

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