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Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995


Image of Joseph Hernández
[Library of Congress]

Whig of the Territory of Florida

Seventeenth Congress
September 30, 1822 - March 3, 1823

Joseph Marion Hernández was the first Hispanic to serve in Congress and the first Delegate from the territory of Florida. He was born in St. Augustine, Florida on August 4, 1793, when it was still a Spanish colony. When the territory of Florida was established in 1822, Hernández transferred his allegiance to the United States and was elected Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until March 3, 1823.

Hernández later became a member and the presiding officer of the Territorial House of Representatives. He was appointed brigadier general of volunteers in the war against the Florida Indians. From 1835 to 1838 he served in the U.S. Army. In 1837 he commanded the expedition that captured the Indian Chief Oceola, and was appointed brigadier general of the Mounted Volunteers.

In 1845 Hernández ran for the United States Senate as a Whig candidate, but was defeated. He then moved to Cuba where he managed his family's sugar estate in the district of Coliseo, near Matanzas. He died on June 8, 1857.

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