Why is the late Texas Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez on the cover of a book released Tuesday by the U.S. House of Representatives? How many Hispanics have served in Congress over the years? How many have been senators?
The U.S. House has answers to those questions in “Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-2012,” one in a series of books produced by the House to highlight the contributions of women and minorities to Congress. The book contains lesson plans and interactive features. An e-book is due out soon. Meanwhile, here are a few facts drawn from the web exhibit created by the House’s Office of Historian to go with the book’s release:
- Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, a Democrat from Texas, was the longest serving Hispanic in Congress, serving 37 years in the House.
- Seventeen of the first 25 members of Congress (68 percent through the end of WWII) represented territorial possessions.
- Hispanics have consistently served in Congress since the mid-1800s, compared to African Americans, who were not present from 1901 to 1929.
- Florida Delegate Joseph Hernández, sworn into the House in January of 1823, was the first Hispanic member of Congress and first Territorial Delegate to represent Florida. He was a slave owner and fought against blacks and Seminoles in the Second Seminole War.
- Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, R-N.M. was the first Hispanic elected to the Senate in 1928. He was an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico. Seven Hispanics have served in the U.S. Senate.