Image courtesy of Library of Congress
José Francisco Chaves advocated statehood for New Mexico while serving as a territorial delegate from 1865–1873.
On this date, José Francisco Chaves
was murdered by an unknown assailant. Born on June 27, 1833, in Los Padillas, New Mexico, Chaves was a member of a prominent political family. A decorated U.S. soldier and possible Mexican War veteran, Chaves fought against Confederate and Navajo insurgents during the Civil War. Upon his discharge from the military in 1865, Chaves was elected as a Territorial Delegate to the 39th Congress
(1865–1867). In the 40th Congress
(1867–1869), Chaves successfully contested the election of C. P. Clever, and was re-elected to serve in the 41st Congress
(1869–1871). One of Chaves’s legislative interests was acquiring statehood for New Mexico. Twenty–five years after its annexation by the United States, New Mexico remained a territory. In 1871, Chaves informed his colleagues that New Mexicans felt that they had, “no part in the general legislation of this country, and only a limited and subordinate part . . . which directly relates to their own local interests.” New Mexicans, according to Chaves, were “anxious to assume that relation to the Government of the United States which will . . . advance their local interests, and will enable them, through their Senators and Representatives in Congress, to demand . . . protection and consideration from the Government which they now have to solicit as a matter of grace.” Although Chaves was defeated for re-election to the 42nd Congress
(1871–1873), he remained active in New Mexico politics. In 1912, eight years after Chaves’s death, New Mexico was admitted to the Union as a state.