Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995
José Lorenzo Pesquera was born in Bayamón, Puerto Rico on August 10, 1882. He studied at the Provincial Institute of Puerto Rico, and continued his education at the Keystone State Normal School in Kutztown, Pennsylvania from 1901 to 1902. In 1904 he received a law degree from West Virginia University at Morgantown and was admitted to the bar. The same year he returned to Puerto Rico, where in addition to a law practice, he engaged in farming. In 1917 Pesquera was elected by the Fourth District to the Puerto Rico House of Representatives and served until 1920. He served as director and resident of the Agricultural Association of Puerto Rico.
In 1932 Pesquera was appointed to be a non-partisan Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives after Félix Córdova Dávila's resignation from the position. During the Great Depression, Pesquera introduced a bill in the House to extend the Reconstruction Finance Corporation benefits to Puerto Rico, but the bill died in the Committee on Banking and Currency.
In 1932 Pesquera spoke in the House in favor of a bill to change the name of the island back to the original Puerto Rico, instead of "Porto Rico," which the U.S. Government had used as its official name since the Foraker Act. The bill encountered opposition from some Representatives, particularly William Stafford of Wisconsin, who opposed it for various reasons including the expense in changing printed material from "Porto" to "Puerto." Pesquera argued that the bill was of no economic importance to the United States, but would be of immense significance to the people of Puerto Rico. In May 1932 a joint resolution of the Senate changed the name back to the original Puerto Rico.
Pesquera did not run for reelection in 1932. He returned to Puerto Rico, where he continued his law practice and agricultural pursuits. He died in Bayamón, Puerto Rico on July 25, 1950.