Famous Firsts by Hispanics - Did You Know?

Government

  • U.S. Representative: Romualdo Pacheco, a representative from California, was elected in 1876 by a one-vote margin. He served for four months before his opponent succeeded in contesting the results. In 1879 he was again elected to Congress, where he served for two terms.
  • U.S. Senator: Octaviano Larrazolo was elected in 1928 to finish the term of New Mexico senator Andieus Jones, who had died in office. He served for six months before falling ill and stepping down; he died in 1930. The first Hispanic senator to serve an entire term (and then some) was Dennis Chávez, of New Mexico, who served from 1935 through 1962.
  • Administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency: General Elwood "Pete" Quesada helped create this agency to manage the growing aviation field and improve airline safety. He served in this position from 1958 to 1961. The agency became the Federal Aviation Administration in 1966.
  • U.S. Treasurer: Romana Acosta Bañuelos, 1971–1974.
  • U.S. cabinet member: Lauro F. Cavazos, 1988–1990, Secretary of Education.
  • U.S. Surgeon General: Antonia Coello Novello, 1990–1993. She was also the first woman ever to hold the position.
  • U.S. Secretary of Transportation: Federico Peña, 1993.
  • U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Henry Cisneros, 1993.
  • U.S. Attorney General: Alberto Gonzales, 2005.
  • Democrat to run for President: Bill Richardson, 2008. Though he eventually lost the nomination to Barack Obama, Richardson made history by entering the race.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice: Sonia Sotomayor, 2009. She is also the third woman to