Whereas: Stories from the People’s House

Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017

Dalip Saund/tiles/non-collection/5/5-16-APA-cover.xml Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017 Representative Dalip Saund became the first Asian Pacific American Representative in Congress upon his election to represent a California district in 1956.
In celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, and in collaboration with the Office of the Clerk and the Committee on House Administration, the Office of the House Historian is pleased to present Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017. Alongside the release of the book, the office has prepared its content as an online exhibit.

How many Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have served in the U.S. Congress? How did U.S. expansion in the Pacific Ocean, colonial rule in the Philippines, and waves of immigration affect Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress? Who was the first to chair a standing congressional committee? How did the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus originate, and how has it evolved?

These questions and many more are answered in Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900–2017, the most comprehensive history available on the 60 Asian Pacific Americans who have served in Congress—from Delegate Robert W. Wilcox of Hawaii in 1900 to the 115th Congress (2017–2019).

Read about:

  • Pioneers such as Dalip Singh Saund of California, elected to the U.S. House in 1956 as the first Asian Pacific American to serve with full voting rights, and Patsy Mink of Hawaii who, in 1965, became the first Asian Pacific American woman Member of Congress.
  • The 13 Philippine Resident Commissioners who served in the House, from the first—Benito Legarda and Pablo Ocampo in 1907—until Carlos Romulo in 1946 when the Philippines won its independence.
  • Legislative giants such as Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, a highly decorated veteran, who during 53 years of combined service in the House and Senate chaired numerous committees and helped to secure reparations to compensate Japanese Americans interned during the Second World War.
  • Many others such as Hiram Fong of Hawaii who, in 1959, became the first Asian Pacific American to serve in the U.S. Senate; Manuel Quezon, the influential Philippine Resident Commissioner from 1909 to 1916, who later served as president of the Philippine Commonwealth; Norman Y. Mineta, who like several other Asian Pacific American colleagues lived with his family in an internment camp during World War II, and later became an influential Member of the House; and Antonio Borja Won Pat, the first Delegate to represent Guam in Congress.

Written for a general audience and researched using primary and secondary sources, this exhibit contains a profile of every former Asian and Pacific Islander American who has served in Congress. Profiles are accompanied by contextual essays that present major events in congressional and U.S. history. This online edition of the book features additional artifacts and interactive features.