Today in History

Today in History: October 30

Don José Manuel Gallegos

José Manuel Gallegos,
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico.
Hispanic Americans in Congress

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 & Culture from the Northern Rio Grande: The Juan B. Rael Collection

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.

Mexican Catholic Church, Deming, New Mexico
Mexican Catholic Church,
Deming, New Mexico,
circa 1910-1919.
The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920: Photographs from the Fred Hultstrand and F. A. Pazandak Photograph Collections

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.

Southwest village
Taos, New Mexico,
Spanish-American Village along the Rio Hondo near Taos, New Mexico…,
Russell Lee, photographer,
September 1939.
America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945

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.

Panorama of Albuquerque, NM
Panoram of Albuquerque, N. Mex.,
circa 1915.
Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs, 1851-1991

*English Translation:

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.