Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995
Francisco Antonio Manzanares, a successful politician and businessman whose financial and commercial endeavors contributed to the economic development of New Mexico, was born in Abiquiu, New Mexico on January 25, 1843. His parents, José Antonio Manzanares and María Manuela Valdez, were from Spanish families that settled in New Mexico during the early Spanish colonial period. José Antonio Manzanares had supported the Union during the Civil War, served in the legislative assembly, and held the position of Indian agent. Like many members of prominent New Mexican families, young Manzanares received his earliest education from Father Antonio José Martínez in the Taos School, and from 1863 to 1864 he attended St. Louis University in Missouri.
Manzanares began his business career in Kansas City as an employee of the merchandizing firm of Chick, Browne, and Co. He spent a year in New York City where he attended a commercial college and worked at a bank. When he returned to Kansas, he rejoined Chick, Browne, and Co. as a partner. As the Kansas Pacific and the Atchinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroads expanded west, he established grocery stores in cities along their routes. By 1879 he had become a full partner in the firm which was renamed Manzanares and Browne, and the headquarters were moved to Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Manzanares provided leadership in the economic development of both Las Vegas and New Mexico. He participated in the planning and founding of the Las Vegas Waterworks Association. He also played a major role in the development of the state's financial infrastructure. Because of his efforts, branches of the First National Bank were established in the cities of Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Raton.
In 1884 Manzanares was seated as a Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives after he contested the election of Republican Tranquilino Luna. After completing his term in Congress, Manzanares pursued his business affairs and served as county commissioner in San Miguel County in 1886 and 1897. He died in Las Vegas, New Mexico on September 17, 1904.