Historical Highlights

The first Hispanic American to serve in Congress

September 30, 1822
The first Hispanic American to serve in Congress Image courtesy of Library of Congress Born in Spanish Florida, Joseph Marion Hernández became the first Hispanic American to serve in Congress when Florida became a territory in 1822.
On this date, Joseph Marion Hernández, a Delegate from the Florida Territory, became the first Hispanic American to serve in Congress. Born in Florida while it was still a Spanish colony, Hernández became an American citizen when Florida became an American territory in 1822. Elected as a Delegate to the 17th Congress (1821–1823), he served for less than one year in the House. Hernández made no floor speeches, but submitted numerous memorials and motions on behalf of the inhabitants of the Florida Territory. After leaving the House, Hernández enjoyed a long career in the Florida territorial legislature and in the military. Before settling in Cuba, Hernández made one unsuccessful attempt to secure a seat in the United States Senate in 1845. Several other Hispanic delegates served in the U.S. House before Romualdo Pacheco of California became the first Hispanic American to serve as full-fledged U.S. Representative, when he won election to the 45th Congress (1877–1879).

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