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If you choose to complete the Historical Reflection for this week, base your three Gold Nuggets (Part I) on the assigned reading and lecture for this week.

For Part II, prepare a three-paragraph response to the following prompt / question:

Based upon the lecture and Sarah Winnemucca’s autobiography,

My Life Among the Paiutes

, how did Sarah Winnemucca exercise agency to achieve her goals amid the challenges of invasion?

(Agency refers to one’s ability to determine their path in life while taking into account barriers and obstacles that restrict their options).

Women in the 19th Century
American West
Opportunities, Limitations, and Agency
Francesca Benecia Carrillo y Vallejo
Bridgette “Biddy” Mason
Sarah Winnemucca
Opportunities: Homestead, California Married Women’s Property Rights, and
The extent to which one can determine his or her future – negotiating between
limitations and restrictions and opportunities – avoiding being a victim,
exercising as much control over one’s future as possible.
Here in the West, the federal government promoted settlement of land with the
Homestead Act :160 acres per adult head of family and then the Desert Land
Act: 320 acres. Single adult women filed for land grants.
Limitations: Depending upon who they were: Native American women found
their culture under assault and faced a narrowing array of choices; Mexican
American women here in California saw their Californio lifestyle assaulted by
new laws and loss of property – or marriage to Yankee men that provided them
with avenues to both cultures; African American women faced enslavement or
freedom – what did freedom mean? Asian women, primarily Chinese women
began arriving during the Gold Rush faced challenges with living in an
increasingly hostile environment in California, limited numbers compared with
men, and often isolated in Chinese communities.
Examine the lives of three women in particular: Insights into the opportunities
and limitations they faced and this historical concept of Agency;
The process of
adjusting to changing
circumstances in order
to survive and achieve
desired goals.
Acculturation: process
of adopting the
beliefs, behaviors, and
practices of another
& Agency
The capacity to make
choices, direct the
course of one’s life,
and exert an influence.
This takes into account
the limitations one
faces as well as
All three of the above historical terms apply to women’s experiences in the
nineteenth-century American West. We need to keep in mind, one of our
course’s main themes for guiding our exploration of women’s history: how
a woman’s identity impacted her opportunities and limitations.
Specifically, we need to keep in mind the classifications of race, class, and
gender, in this lecture.
Expansion or Invasion?
“Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (mural
Emanuel Leutze , 1861, Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way
33 X 43 hangs in US Capitol, House of Representatives.
Does this painting reveal expansion or invasion? Consider how different
points of view may answer the question differently.
Compromise of 1850
Slave or Free State?
California’s admission to the Union upset the slave – free state
According the 1849 State Constitution, California would not allow
slavery within its borders and it would preserve married women’s
property rights. (Spanish legal heritage). This contrasts with the
British common law feme covert status in which women lost control
of their property upon marriage.
Californio Culture in California
The importance of Family and Women in
Californio Society of Alta California
Californio culture: Prior to the US was with Mexico and the signing of the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Californio culture prevailed here in
present day California, the northern region of Mexico.
Francesca Benecia Carillo y Vallejo
1815 – 1891
A life
three eras of
Francesca Benicia Carillo, born in 1815 to Maria Ignacia Lopez and Joaquin
Carrillo married Mariano Vallejo (1808 – 1890) in March 1832, after waiting
nearly two-years for permission to be granted from Mexico city.
His military duties required separations during the early stages of their
marriage, but they made their home at the Rancho de Petaluma north of San
Francisco where he served as a military leader for the Mexican army.
Francesca: Birthed 16 children, 10 survived to adulthood.
Rancho Petaluma
US war with Mexico
Loss and Decline of wealth
and power.
Responsibilities: Her responsibilities entailed managing the household. She
is described as always having a baby on her lap or at her breast. While Mariano
recovered from a hip injury, she entertained and hosted visiting Americans.
Daughters and granddaughters married white, American men. California
Indians labored for Vallejos, each was daughter served by an Indian woman who
labored as personal servants.
Difficulties: Stress in marriage, she spent over a year living with daughter
Fannie in Vallejo while Mariano remained at Lachrya Montes in Sonoma. (She
left him in the fall of 1869, expressing disgust at his faith in Americans and
returned in late 1870).
Home of Mariano Vallejo in Sonoma
Under US control, Californios lost much of their land. The California
Land Act of 1851 required land owners to prove title to their land –
two different systems of surveying used.
Vallejos’ profits declined, during this period, she left him for a little
over a year, but returned. She did not want to humiliate the family
and violate their religious beliefs with a divorce, she also loved him.
She lived only one-year following his death (1890 – 91).
Interior images of Vallejo’s Home
Lachryma Montis Vallejo Family home in Sonoma.
Like many other Californio families, the Vallejos experienced a loss
of property, status, and rights as a result of U. S. acquisition.
Francesca fulfilled domestic and maternal responsibilities, while also
exercising agency and power in her marriage.
Under Spanish legal tradition, she maintained property rights as a
married woman here in California.
Free or Slave?
Bridget “Biddy” Mason
1818 – 1891
1849 California
Constitution prohibited
slavery and retained
married women’s
property rights.
Born into slavery in Mississippi, 1818, Bridgette “Biddy” Mason exercised agency to
challenge racism in the American West. Robert Smith, a slave owner, illegally enslaved
Mason, her children, and others when he moved to San Bernadino County in California
in 1851.
In December of 1855, local law enforcement intervened.
Los Angeles District Judge Benjamin Hayes ruled, in January 1856, that Biddy Mason
and thirteen others, including some of her children, were free because California’s
constitution prohibited Slavery. (Before Dred Scott first argued in Feb. 1856 and
decision not handed down until March 1857).
After gaining her freedom, Mason moved to Los Angeles where she worked as a
midwife. She was one of the original organizers of the AME Church in LA. She
purchased a plot of land for $250 and eventually sold it for $250,000. Segregated and
racist policies denied her children access to local schools. She exercised agency to
provide her children with access to quality education in California. Her younger
children enrolled in Rev. Jeremiah Sanderson’s school in Stockton. She died in 1891.
For Mason, freedom meant: liberation from bondage, property ownership, ability to
earn money, opportunity for her children, and the ability to contribute to her
California Gold Rush
A Husband Wanted
By a lady who can wash, cook, scour, sew, milk, sweep, spin, weave, hoe, (can’t plough) cut wood,
make fires, feed the pigs, raise chickens, rock the cradle, (gold rocker I thank you sir) saw plank,
drive nails, & e. These are a few of the solid branches; now the ornamental. “Long time ago” she
went as far as Syntax, in Murray’s Geography, and through two rules in Pike’s Grammar. Could
find six states on the atlas. Could read, and you can see she can write. Can – no, could paint roses,
butterflies, ships, &e., but now she can paint houses, white-wash the fences, & e; could once dance;
can ride a horse, donkey, or oxen, besides a great many things too numerous to be named here.
Oh! I hear you ask, can she scold? No, she can’t you good for ______ no _______.
Now for her terms. Her age is none of your business; she is neither handsome nor a fright, yet an
old man need not apply, nor any who have not a little more education than she has, and a great
deal more gold, for there must be $20,000 settled on her before she will bind herself to perform all
of the above; for a good washer and ironer or seamstress alone, vary from $1000 to $15000.
Address with real name to Dorothy Scraggs, Post Office. Marysville, post paid.
Marysville Herald
25 February 1851
This advertisement appeared in the Marysville Herald on the date
shown. What does it reveal about women’s value here in California
during the Gold Rush?
Would an eastern newspaper print a similar advertisement placed by
a woman? Why or why not?
Western Suffrage Successes!
The West: 14
Map 21.1: Woman Suffrage Before the
Nineteenth Amendment
The East: 2
Copyright © Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Maps/Figs/Tables, 21–2
Women living in western states and territories gained the right to
vote ahead of their eastern sisters.
Consider why the West was more supportive of voting rights for
women than the East was.
Sarah Winnemucca
Sarah Winnemucca (1844 – 1891).
Born the daughter of a Paiute tribal headman, she later called him Chief
Winnemucca, near present day Lovelock, NV. Her tribe of the Paiutes lived
near Pyramid and Honey Lakes (Nevada – California). She was the grand
daughter of Chief Truckee. Her Paiute name was: Thocmetony (Shell
Flower). Sarah was born right on the cusp and in the path of Westward
Invasion / Expansion.
At the age of 14, she lived with Major William Ormsby and his family near
Carson City where she learned English. She was fluent in several Paiute
dialects as well as Spanish and English. She spent some time at a convent
in San Jose in 1860. In addition to developing spoken fluency, she also
became literate and is the first Native American female author who
published an autobiography: Life Among the Paiutes, 1883.
Sarah Winnemucca exercised agency to create the best possible options
available to Paiutes, as she identified the options.
The State of Nevada
Following the Bannock War of 1878, the US government
relocated many Paiute to the distant Yakima Reservation in
Washington state – far from their sacred, home land.
Sarah sought the return of Paiute to Nevada. She created a public
image appealing to white society and published an autobiography
to raise awareness of the mistreatment of Paiute at the hands of
the US Bureau of Indian affairs and military. Sarah’s presentation
of the “Indian Princess” image captured the attention of many
white Americans eager to be entertained. Her autobiography
presented her life’s story and the challenges of the Paiute who
were forcibly dislocated from their land. Sarah pursued the
return of Paiute to their land in Nevada. She worked to establish
a school for Paiute children located on Paiute land to ensure the
Paiute children were not sent to distant schools.
Indian Princess Image
Photo Sales
1844 – 1891
She married twice; both times to cavalrymen. She first married Lt. Edward
Bartlett in 1871, but were divorced in 1876. She broke off an engagement
to another soldier, John Brandon. She married her second husband, Lt.
Lewis Hopkins in 1881. (He was a drinker and gambler and wasted much
of her money).
There are two sides to this woman who sought to communicate between
two cultures. She did this through her work and her personal life.
She presented a public entertainer image to white society. She portrayed
an Indian Princess image that she determined white society expected. At
the same time, she pursued an important political goal: the establishment
of a reservation for her people in Nevada – pursuing a goal of self –
determination. She worked as an interpreter and eventually opened an
industrial school for Paiute children near Lovelock in 1889, but it burned in
Sarah popularized the image of an “Indian Princess” to achieve her goals of
returning Paiute to Nevada and establishing a school for children in
Indian women were popularized with the appearance of long, flowing hair (not
something white women did outside of their bedrooms!) There were often bows and
arrows connected with even women. By the late nineteenth century, white society
frequently associated the incorporation of feathers into regalia as something common
to all tribal populations of North America.
To enhance the Indian Princess image, she referred to her father as Chief Winnemucca
and promoted the belief that he was a chief.
Promotional Tours and Commercial
In 1864, Sarah and other members of her family first performed for white audiences.
One performance, a reenactment of Pocahontas rescuing Captain John Smith. She
quickly recognized that white society was eager to be entertained.
In November 1879, she returned to San Francisco, this time in a more serious role, to
deliver lectures. She explained her goal for going on the lecture circuit: “I have just
been thinking how it would do for me to lecture upon the Bannock War. I might the
California Theater, and perhaps, I could make my expenses. I would be the first Indian
woman who ever spoke before white people, and they don’t know what the Indians
have got to stand sometimes.” The report in the newspaper the next morning,
primarily addressed her attire and what she wore – buckskin dress, feather headdress.
1880 Paiute Delegation to Washington DC
Above, an 1880 photograph of Sarah, her father Winnemucca, her brother Natchez, and
Captain Jim (a Paiute leader from western Nevada) and an unidentified white boy.
She traveled East and lectured to audiences charging admission of 10 to 25 cents, sold
her book for $1 and autographed copies of her portrait for 50 cents. Baltimore,
Maryland audiences were particularly supportive of her. The Peabody sisters
contributed generous funds to go toward establishing an Industrial School for Paiute
children in Nevada. Sarah helped get the Peabody Industrial School opened in 1889.
Tragically, it burned the next year. Because it was uninsured, funds were not available
for rebuilding it. The above photograph reveals Sarah and the Paiute delegation who
traveled to Washington D. C. to meet with President Rutherford B. Hayes and Carl
Schurz, Secretary of the Interior. (The Bureau of Indian Affairs was part of the Interior
Department in 1880).
Sarah succeeded in the negotiating the establishment of reservations for Paiute in
Nevada, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs failed to consistently and adequately provide
resources and necessities to Paiute who agreed to live on the Pyramid Lake Reservation
and Fort McDermitt in Nevada.
Sarah succeeded in establishing a school for Paiute children in Nevada. Tragically, it
burned in 1890, the year after it was established.
Sarah promoted acculturation as a way for Paiute to survive.
She died in 1891 while visiting her sister Alma near the present border between Idaho
and Montana.
Sarah Winnemucca exercised agency to pursue the best possible path for herself and
Paiutes, as she identified available options. She served as an intermediary between
two cultures. Through her personal and public lives, she worked to increase awareness
of the Paiute removal from their homeland. She worked to return Paiute to Nevada
and maintain families by opening a school in Northern Nevada for Paiute children. She
pursued her goals without a role model or example to follow. At each point, she made
decisions based upon her experiences and recognized options. Her statue is now one
of two that represents Nevada in the nation’s capitol statuary museum and a statue of
her is prominently positioned outside the Nevada State Capitol in Carson City.
Personal Note: Out of all the historical figures I have studied, Sarah Winnemucca stands
out as the one who most exemplifies the exercise of Agency in her personal and public
Submitted By: Fereshteh Alizadeh
Submitted To: Camille Leonhardt
Date: 03/21/21
Name: Fereshteh Alizadeh
Historical Reflection: Week 9
Part One:
Gold Nugget 1
Louisa May Alcott, unmarried and struggling to become a writer, was one of those Dix recruited.
“I love nursing and must let out my pent-up energy in some new way.” (TWE, pp. 274). In
nineteenth century, nonetheless, care of the sick and injured was traditionally a female skill, and
women begun to offer their services as soon as the first call for troops was issued. As mentioned
in nineteenth century women were not recruited to work as nurses or take care of the patients in
any place. At the time of civil war, both sides felt that the health teams they possess is not sufficient
to handle and care both sick and injured, so they called women to help them in taking care of the
injured. Louisa May Alcott was one of those women who wanted to be called and work as a nurse
and heal and handle sick and injured coming from the battlefields. Even women were paid less
than that of men, but still women were taking a potential part in the field of nursing. There are
some evident that women working the same job of nursing as men were paid third of the male
nurses were receiving.
Gold Nugget 2
“Black women such Susie King Taylor and Harriet Tubman lived and traveled with these troops,
serving as nurses, spies, and military laborers.” (TWE, pp. 255). After the second year of the civil
war, Union army permitted African American men to fight in the battlefield. This decision would
have been political and pave the path to demolish slavery or the Union army was need urgent need
of fighters in the battlefield, but at its consequence thousands and thousands of black men and
women were enlisted. Men were going to fight and their women were also accompanying them
and were serving as nurses to heal the wounds of injured from the battlefields, spies an collecting
useful information from enemies lines, besides, women were cooking and laundering as well. It
shows that women were a great help and support for men. At the time of peace women were
helping men in plantations and taking care of the houses and child breading and at the time of war
doing their nursing and laundering.
Gold Nugget 3
“Margaret Garner killed her daughter Priscilla rather than see her returned to slavery.” (TWE, pp.
249). Six years after the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, Margret Garner, a black slave woman
along with her family passed the Ohio river to get her freedom. Unluckily she was caught, there
she killed her own daughter by her hands in order not to let her become slave again and spend her
entire life as a slave. Margaret Garner’s this act was showing the depth of miserable life the slaves
had which made her to take a decision and kill her daughter. At that time some states called that
all slaves are free and can live independently, so enslaved men, women and children were traveling
form one state to another in order to seek their freedom. Traveling long distances to be free cost
many lives and some successfully got their freedom and started their own life by having farms and
being busy with plantations.
Part Two:
In order to answer this question properly, let’s have a very quick review of the domesticity in a
market age. The spread of market and industrial revolution had its impact on women in one or
another way. Prior to industrialization, both men’s and women’s work were considered domestic,
but after market revolution, men were usually busy working outside the houses where women were
totally in charge of domestic works starting from child breading, children education, cooking, and
doing all types of cleaning. Men working outside of the realm of homes were paid money for the
work they were doing and women’s domestic work was not even counted as work.
During the civil war women started working as nurses, spies and military laborers along with men
irrespective of their gender and they were paid, but they wages were less than men. “In 1861
Congress authorized pay of $12 a month for the female nurses under Dix’s supervision, about a
third of what male nurses received.” (TWE, pp. 274). This quote reflects two main things, first,
women got the permission to work outside the homes in the battlefields and homes to handle sick
and injured it was a good move for women to work in such fields that men were thinking they were
just for men and women were not allowed. Second, congress authorized to compensate women by
money for the work they were doing and even it was not fair in compare paying to men, but still it
was a great move for women to show their presence and be paid for the work they were doing.
Some of women were working as spies during the civil war as well, and one of the most prominent
was Harriet Tubman. “In 1863, on the basis of Tubman’s reports, a regiment of 150 black Union
soldiers sailed up South Carolina’s Combahee River to cut the enemy’s supply line, seize or
destroy foodstuffs, and encourage the desertion of the slave labor force of the plantations along
banks.” (TWE, pp. 280). It indicates that women were supporting men in the battlefields as spies,
and being a black women much helped Tubman to easily travel to South as a common slave and
there she could destroy enemy and collect information in favor of Union army. During the civil
war some women even further and took very risky actions in. Bridget Drivers, known as Michigan
Bridget was one of the regiment daughters and she physically in the battlefield as a soldier fighting
side by side men. It was reported that once she held the flag and called on soldiers “Go in Boys
and bate [beat] Hell out of them.” (TWE, pp 283). This is an indication of women’s bravery in the
civil war where they wore men’s cloths and fight for their country and freedom. In General, women
during the civil war had huge achievements starting from taking care of their families to fighting
in the battlefields as brave soldiers and working as nurses and healing injured.

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