Rosalia Vallejo. Prior to the Bear Flag Revolt, which occurred in 1846, Californio Women lived at peace with the white population. In many cases, these women disregarded the concept of race as an essential definer of their lifestyle, as has been exemplifi

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In mid 19th century California, the Californio women watched as Anglo-American men came and gradually took over land, property, and wealth. Many women of the time had married white men, and in the early years they generally held a positive attitude about the white community. Some soon came to resent Anglo-Americans. However, the Bear Flag Revolt (1846) caused some to become suspicious and others to become quite hostile to white men. Nevertheless, few Californio Women continued to regard the white men highly and viewed this coming as beneficial for California.

Prior to the Bear Flag Revolt, which occurred in 1846, Californio Women lived at peace with the white population. In many cases, these women disregarded the concept of race as an essential definer of their lifestyle, as has been exemplified by the numbers of inter-racial marriages that occurred throughout California during this period. Rosalía Vallejo’s marriage demonstrates a classic example; at a young age, Vallejo married a white man by the name of Jacob Leese. Vallejo’s courtship with the American trader caused for struggles between her and her brother Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, as Rosalía continued to carry on this courtship without her brother’s approval. Eventually, in 1837 this Californio Woman took the initiative and, against her family’s will, married Jacob Leese. According to Leese, this inter-racial marriage “caused a great deal of talk among the people of the country, which was in consequence of its being so sly and not a custom of the country.”  Although many referred to this marriage as trouble, Leese proved to be well intentioned. The American trader soon earned the acknowledgement and respect of the powerful Vallejos as he became involved in the family business. The marriage purchased land, raised a family, and lived a good life together. Rosalía represents an aspect of how the Californio Women viewed the American man; as a man worth spending the rest of their life with, a man worth taking a risk, good men.

However, this sentiment regarding the American man was not entirely widespread throughout all of California. Dorotea Valdez exemplifies this particular attitude. Valdez recognized the fact that while some white men were rather respectable, others were not. For example, she developed a high level of respect for a European merchant by the name of David Spence- who she referred to as an honest and intelligent man. Dorotea speaks of this man with immense admiration. Although, she recognizes his misdeeds as a smuggler back in the days, she does not retract from her firm stance, “this does not detract one bit from his good reputation. During those days, smuggling was commonplace, and nobody could make a dollar without resorting to some sort of dishonorable practice.”  Dorotea’s level of respect prevails through comments such as these where she disregards his pervious misdeeds by making his better qualities prevail in her description.

This Californio Woman also demonstrates another perspective of the white man which occurred at the time. When asked in her interview about David Jacks she responds by calling him, “a very mean man, a cunning rascal, and a pious hypocrite.”  In the case of referring to this particular man, Dorotea Valdez shows no respect, but instead manages to point out all his flaws. She supports her argument toward Señor Jacks by commenting on his lack of character as both father and husband, “… a miser who denies his own wife and children the comforts of life.”  This illustration of Jacks serves to demonstrate that white men were not by any means considered superior to Californios, and that if at any given time these men were referred to as respectable beings it was only because they had earned this title though hard-work.

Soon enough, through dedication American men were acknowledged as reputable beings. The elite Californio class began to reconsider these men’s abilities. Shortly after, these men became apt candidates as the possible husbands of the elite Californio class daughters. As was the case with Josefa Carrillo, who at the young age of twelve married a business man by the name of Henry D. Fitch. This woman exemplifies the newly acceptable custom amongst the elite surrounding the region, which was to marry, “eligible daughters to Anglo-American men of commerce.”  Since Carrillo and Fitch had developed a certain romance prior to their marriage, in this particular case the marriage was not solely for business purposes. Fitch demonstrated his honest interest by being baptized by the Catholic Church in preparation for the marriage. Although the family’s interests were on finding a well-off individual to marry their daughters to, Fitch’s love for Carrillo appeared to be genuine and uninterested.

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Teresa De la Guerra serves as another example of a Californio woman who married a business Englishman by the name of Edward Petty Hartnell. However, this marriage was arranged by her father and Hartnell with the purpose of binding together two business enterprises. Once again the Californio elite class had joined forces with the Anglos to expand their wealth. De la Guerra’s family had anticipated an increase in power through the marriage of the eldest daughter with and Englishman; however, the businessman soon became a burden to the family. The family had arranged the marriage, and the arrangement had not ...

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