José Manuel Gallegos was born in Spanish colonial Mexico, in the town of Abiquiú, Nuevo México, on October 30, 1815. His people were Hispanos, descendants of early Spanish settlers.
Hermanos pastores, hermanos queridos,
vamos transitando por estos caminos,
vamos transitando por estos caminos…
Ya los corderitos quedan tan cansados,
échenlos al hombro, ya viene el ganado, échenlos al hombro, ya viene el ganado.
Caminen alegres, vamos caminando,
no se desanimen, ya vamos llegando, no se desanimen, ya vamos llegando.*
“Hermanos pastores” (“Brother Shepherds”), Song from the folk play Los Pastores, Performed by Adolfo Chavez and Julián Lobato, Antonito, Colorado, August 4, 1940. Hispano Music and Culture from the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection, American Folklife Center
Raised during the Mexican revolution and educated by Franciscan missionaries in Taos and Durango, Gallegos was surrounded by republican ideals. Ordained a Catholic priest at the age of twenty-five, Gallegos readily added political tasks to his clerical responsibilities. He became pastor of San Felipe de Neri Church in La Villa de Albuquerque, as well as one of the nineteen “electors”—men who chose Nuevo México’s deputy to the Mexican Congress.
In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War and ceded the Southwest— from Texas to California, to the United States. Nuevo México became the U.S. Territory of New Mexico, and Gallegos was elected to its first Territorial Council. Gallegos became the first Democrat elected as a delegate to the U.S. Congress from the Territory of New Mexico in 1853. He was the second Hispanic Congressional representative in U.S. history. Thirty-one years had elapsed since Joseph Marion Hernández, delegate from the Whig Territory of Florida, had become the first Hispanic in Congress in 1822.
Suspended from the priesthood for refusing to accept the authority of French religious superior, Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy (who became the subject of Willa Cather‘s novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop), Gallegos put increasing energy into his political life. He was elected to the New Mexico Territorial House of Representatives in 1860 as the representative from Santa Fe, served as speaker of the House from 1860-62, treasurer of the territory from 1865-66, and superintendent of New Mexico Indian affairs in 1868. He was reelected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a delegate from 1871-73.
Brother shepherds beloved brothers, let us pass along these roads, let us pass along these roads….
Already the little lambs are so tired, carry them on your shoulders, here comes the flock, carry them on your shoulders, here comes the flock.
Walk happily, let us go walking, do not get discouraged, we are already arriving, do not get discouraged,
we are already arriving.
- For a more detailed biography of José Manuel Gallegos see the special presentation Hispanic Americans in Congress. This and other presentations may be reached through the home page of the Hispanic Reading Room of the Library of Congress.
- Listen to recordings of the songs and music of the Hispanos of the Southwest available online in Hispano Music and Culture of the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection. These recordings from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center are accompanied by transcripts of the lyrics as well as translations. For a more lengthy discussion of the history and culture of the Hispanos of Nuevo México, read Nuevo Méxicanos of the Upper Rio Grande: Culture, History, and Society, an essay by Enrique R. Lamadrid of the University of New Mexico provided as part of this collection.
- View A Guide to the Mexican War for links available through the Library of Congress Web sites, external Web sites, and a selected bibliography on the war.
- Search across Today in History on New Mexico to find additional materials on the history of the state, the Mexican War, and more.
- Search across the collections on the term New Mexico to find a wide variety of both images and documents related to that state.