How an Early Santa Barbara Scion Protected Women’s Rights to Property in the California Constitution

In 1849, Doña Angustias Bargained Away Suffrage for Non-Whites to Help Preserve Her Social Status

In 1849, Angustias de la Guerra struck the first blow for gender equality in U.S.-controlled California when she influenced the outcome of the new state’s constitutional convention.

Doña Angustias, as she was best known, scion of one of the most influential families in Mexican California, made full use of her education and elite experience to combat an attempt by immigrant Anglo men to strip women of the property rights they enjoyed under Mexican rule. And yet, her successes came with a price: Even as she worked to secure women’s equality …