By Jill Zahniser
and later edits by William Watson and Marilyn S. Blackwell
Lucy Daniels was born in Grafton, Vermont, into the family of Francis Daniels, a merchant, cotton broker, and speculator, and Lucy Barrett. Of six children, only the two girls, Lucy and Susan, remained in Grafton as adults. Lucy was educated at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H. and the Gannett Institute for Young Ladies in Boston. She completed the women's law program at New York University in 1896, and received a law degree from Portia Law School in Boston in 1926. She lived in Grafton during the summer and in Boston in the winter months. The four Daniels brothers relinquished their claim to family property to move west; the sisters were left with a comfortable inheritance, which they invested to great benefit. They remained single and were prominent members of the Grafton community though they chose separate pathways in life.
Lucy was an avid suffragist involved with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and her state's suffrage movement. In 1911, after Grafton's legislative representative failed to support a bill allowing municipal suffrage for women, she decided to protest by refusing to pay her property taxes. The response of the town was to auction off shares of her bank stock to recoup the lost tax dollars. Her protest ignited significant attention in the local press and enhanced her notoriety in Grafton.
When questions arose whether black women would march in the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., Daniels was one of those who challenged NAWSA and parade organizer Alice Paul to vigorously recruit African American women; Daniels offered NAWSA $50 if one hundred black women joined the march ($60 if they could have their own float). Paul, who was already recruiting black marchers when protests arose about their inclusion, declined Daniels's offer. Paul and NAWSA officials did push back on suffragists who wanted black women barred from the event; a compromise was reached to sign up any black applicants but not engage in further recruiting. Ultimately, fifty African American women marched in the procession. Daniels marched as well. For a description of a Black college student's experience of the parade, see the biographical sketch for Nellie Quander.
In coordination with NAWSA and the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association (VESA), Daniels staged a local parade in Grafton in May 1914. After the local band refused to participate, she hired musicians from Boston and incorporated parade paraphernalia from Washington, D.C., to create a grand procession, culminating in an outdoor program of speakers on suffrage. Through her support and correspondence with VESA's lobbyist, Annette W. Parmelee, Daniels continued to urge municipal suffrage while becoming active in the National Woman's Party (NWP).
In November 1917, Daniels traveled to Washington to join the "Silent Sentinels" protesting women's disenfranchisement at the White House gates. She was arrested and jailed as a result; in the Occoquan Workhouse she was a victim of the "Night of Terror" on November 14, 1917. She later participated in similar demonstrations in November 1918 and January 1919, as well as a 1919 Boston protest when President Wilson returned from Europe through that city. Daniels was arrested a total of four times and endured jail four times as well.
Daniels lived in Boston and Grafton until her death in 1949, and provided a large legacy for the Grafton Public Library.
A biographical sketch of the Daniels sisters' town residency is included in the Grafton Village historic site application at http://accd.vermont.gov/sites/accd/files/Documents/strongcommunities/historic/GraftonVillageHD.pdf. Daniels's law graduation is noted in "Women Law Graduates: New York University Awards 47 Diplomas," New York Times, 30 Apr 1896, 8. The published Proceedings of the 35th Annual Convention (NAWSA, 1903) notes Daniels' participation in the 1903 NAWSA convention. Daniels tax protest and its consequences is described in "Women's Bank Stock Sold," Vermont Phoenix, 17 Nov 1911, 3; "Refuses to Pay Her Taxes," Burlington Free Press, 30 Nov 1911, p. 8. Deborah P. Clifford describes the tax protest in the context of the state's suffrage movement in "The Drive for Women's Municipal Suffrage in Vermont, 1883-1917," Vermont History 47:3 (Summer 1979), 183-86. Doris Stevens's Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1920) notes Daniels's stint as a picket in 1917. Inez Irwin's The Story of Alice Paul and the Woman's Party (Fairfax, VA: Denlinger's, 1977) lists "Lucy Daniels," "L.J.C. Daniels," and "Lou Daniels," probably all the same person. For a discussion of blacks' participation in the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., see J.D. Zahniser & Amelia R. Fry, Alice Paul: Claiming Power (Oxford, 2014/2019), pp. 137-141; that treatment draws on L.J.C. Daniels to Emma Gillett, 5 Feb 1913 & Daniels to Parade Committee, 10 Feb 1913; both Reel 1, NWP Papers: The Suffrage Years. See also Linda G. Ford, Iron-Jawed Angels: The Suffrage Militancy of the National Woman's Party, 1912-1920 (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1991), p. 111. The Grafton parade is described in The Advance, 9 May 1914, 9; Five Dollars and a Jug of Rum: The History of Grafton, Vermont, 1754-2000 Revised and Expanded Edition (Grafton, Vt.: Grafton Historical Society, 1999), p.132. Daniels correspondence with Parmelee is in Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Papers, Leahy Library, Vermont Historical Society, Barre, Vt.
Vermont death record, June 10, 1949, Bellows Falls, VT, accessible online via Ancestry Library Edition.