Constitutional Amendments, Treaties, and Major Acts of Congress Referenced in Hispanic Americans in Congress


Amendment/ActPublic Law/U.S. CodeMain Provisions
Northwest Ordinance of 17871 Stat. 50-53Provided for a territorial government in the Northwest Territory. Created the framework for territories to apply for statehood. Approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 13, 1787. Re-enacted by the 1st Federal Congress (1789–1791) on July 21, 1789.
Louisiana Purchase Treaty (1803)8 Stat. 200-206For approximately $15 million, France ceded Louisiana to the United States, roughly encompassing the territory between the Mississippi River in the east and the Rocky Mountains in the west. Approved by the Senate during the 8th Congress (1803–1805) on October 20, 1803.
Adams-Onís (Transcontinental) Treaty of 18198 Stat. 252-273Provided for Spain’s cession of Florida to the United States, and set the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase. The United States renounced claims to Texas and took responsibility for $5 million in American citizens’ claims against Spain. Approved by the Senate during the 16th Congress (1819–1821) on February 19, 1821. 
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 18489 Stat. 922-943Ended the war between Mexico and the United States. Mexico ceded to the United States control of Texas north of the Rio Grande River, and the territory that eventually made up the states of California, Nevada, Utah, the bulk of New Mexico and Arizona (the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 secured the rest of the territory that comprises these states), and portions of Colorado and Wyoming. The United States paid the Mexican government $15 million and assumed $3.25 million in war claims by American citizens. Guaranteed Mexican citizens in those territories U.S. citizenship and property rights. Approved by the Senate during the 30th Congress (1847–1849) on March 10, 1848.
Texas and New Mexico Act (1850)9 Stat. 446-452Provided Texas with $10 million, and in return Texas ceded all claims on New Mexico, formally setting the border between the two states. Stipulated that New Mexico could enter the Union either as a free or slave state based on its constitution. Passed by the 31st Congress (1849–1851) on September 9, 1850. 
Fourteenth Amendment (1868)14 Stat. 358-359Declared that all persons born or naturalized in the United States were citizens and that any state that denied or abridged the voting rights of males over the age of 21 would be subject to proportional reductions in its representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Approved by the 39th Congress (1865–1867) as H.J. Res. 127; ratified by the states on July 9, 1868.
The Treaty of Paris (1899)30 Stat. 1754-1762Ended the Spanish-American War and Spain ceded Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and portions of the West Indies to the United States. Additionally, Spain surrendered the Philippines to the U.S. for $20 million. Approved by the Senate during the 55th Congress (1897–1899) on February 6, 1899. 
Foraker Act of 1900 (The Organic Act)31 Stat. 77-86Established a Puerto Rican government administered by the U.S. President and Congress, with an 11-member executive council, a house of delegates, and a governor; the governor and executive council were all appointed by the U.S. President. Designated the island an “unorganized territory,” granting inhabitants “U.S. national” status but not full U.S. citizenship. Provided for biennial elections for a Resident Commissioner, with a non-voting seat in the U.S. House. Passed by the 56th Congress (1899–1901) as H.R. 8245. 
Second Jones Act of 1917 (The Jones-Shafroth Act)39 Stat. 951-968Designated Puerto Rico as a U.S. territory and granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. Created a bicameral legislature with U.S. congressional oversight to annul or amend legislation. Term for Resident Commissioner lengthened to four years. Passed by the 64th Congress (1915–1917) as H.R. 9533. 
Elective Governor Act of 1947 (The Crawford-Butler Act)P.L. 80-362Amended the Foraker Act to permit Puerto Ricans to elect their governor. Passed by the 80th Congress (1947–1949) as H.R. 3309.
Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act (1950)P.L. 81-600Mandated a Puerto Rican plebiscite on the territory’s future relationship with the United States. Presented three options: independence, statehood, or commonwealth. With approval of a status option, the Puerto Rican legislature would convene a constitutional convention to draft a constitution for the island, including a bill of rights, to be submitted to the U.S. President and Congress for approval. Passed by the 81st Congress (1949–1951) as S. 3336.
Organic Act of 1950P.L. 81-630Granted U.S. citizenship to inhabitants of Guam, and allowed for limited self-government, with a unicameral legislature and a governor appointed by the U.S. President. Oversight transferred from the U.S. Navy to the Department of the Interior. Passed by the 81st Congress (1949–1951) as H.R. 7273.
Civil Rights Act of 1957P.L. 85-315Created the six-member Commission on Civil Rights and established the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Justice. Authorized the U.S. Attorney General to seek court injunctions against deprivation and obstruction of voting rights by state officials. Passed by the 85th Congress (1957–1959) as H.R. 6127. 
Civil Rights Act of 1960P.L. 86-449Expanded the enforcement powers of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and introduced criminal penalties for obstructing the implementation of federal court orders. Extended the Civil Rights Commission for two years. Required that voting and registration records for federal elections be preserved. Passed by the 86th Congress (1959–1961) as H.R. 8601. 
Civil Rights Act of 1964P.L. 88-352Prohibited discrimination in public accommodations, facilities, and schools. Outlawed discrimination in federally funded projects. Created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to monitor employment discrimination in the public and private sectors. Provided additional capacities to enforce voting rights. Extended the Civil Rights Commission for four years. Passed by the 88th Congress (1963–1965) as H.R. 7152.
Voting Rights Act of 1965P.L. 89-110Suspended the use of literacy tests and voter disqualification devices for five years. Authorized the use of federal examiners to supervise voter registration in states that used tests or in which less than half the voting-eligible residents registered or voted. Directed the U.S. Attorney General to institute proceedings against use of poll taxes. Provided criminal penalties for individuals who violated the act. Passed by the 89th Congress (1965–1967) as S. 1564. 
Bilingual Education Act (Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Amendments of 1967)P.L. 90-247Granted federal money to local school districts to develop and provide bilingual education programs and teacher training. Passed by the 90th Congress (1967–1969) as H.R. 7819.
Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act)P.L. 90-284Prohibited discrimination in the sale or rental of approximately 80 percent of the housing in the United States. Prohibited state governments and Native-American tribal governments from violating the constitutional rights of Native Americans. Passed by the 90th Congress (1967–1969) as H.R. 2516.
Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970P.L. 91-285Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for five years. Made the act applicable to areas where less than 50 percent of the eligible voting age population was registered as of November 1968. Passed by the 91st Congress (1969–1971) as H.R. 4249.
Delegate to the House of Representatives from Guam and Virgin Islands (1972)P.L. 92-271Created Delegate positions in the U.S. House of Representatives for Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands beginning in the 93rd Congress (1973–1975). Passed by the 92nd Congress (1971–1973) as H.R. 8787.
Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1975P.L. 94-73Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for seven years. Established coverage for other minority groups including Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans. Permanently banned literacy tests. Passed by the 94th Congress (1975–1977) as H.R. 6219. 
Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982P.L. 97-205Extended for 25 years the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Allowed jurisdictions that could provide evidence of maintaining a clean voting rights record for at least 10 years, to avoid preclearance coverage (the requirement of federal approval of any change to local or state voting laws). Provided for aid and instruction to disabled or illiterate voters. Provided for bilingual election materials in jurisdictions with large minority populations. Passed by the 97th Congress (1981–1983) as H.R. 3112.
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986P.L. 99-603Offered legal status to those immigrants who entered the United States illegally prior to 1982 and had lived continuously in the country. Fined employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers. Passed by the 99th Congress (1985–1987) as S. 1200.
Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987P.L. 100-259Established that antidiscrimination laws are applicable to an entire organization if any part of the organization receives federal funds. Passed by the 100th Congress (1987–1989) as S. 557. 
Fair Housing Act Amendments of 1988P.L. 100-430Strengthened the powers of enforcement granted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Passed by the 100th Congress (1987–1989) as H.R. 1158.
Civil Rights Act of 1991P.L. 102-166Reversed nine U.S. Supreme Court decisions (rendered between 1986 and 1991) that had raised the bar for workers who alleged job discrimination. Provided for plaintiffs to receive monetary damages in cases of harassment or discrimination based on sex, religion, or disability. Passed by the 102nd Congress (1991–1993) as S. 1745.
Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992P.L. 102-344Broadened the scope of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, guaranteeing access to bilingual ballots and voter-assistance for minority communities not covered by the earlier legislation. Passed by the 102nd Congress (1991–1993) as H.R. 4312.
Voting Rights Act of 2006P.L. 109-478Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for 25 years. Extended the bilingual election requirements through August 5, 2032. Directed the U.S. Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the implementation, effectiveness, and efficiency of bilingual voting materials requirements. Passed by the 109th Congress (2005–2007) as H.R. 9.