Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822
JOSEPH MARION HERNANDEZ
Whig of the Territory of Florida
September 30, 1822 - March 3, 1823
Joseph Marion [José Maria] Hernandez was the first Hispanic to serve in Congress and the first Delegate from the territory of Florida. He was born in St. Augustine, Florida on August 4, 1793, when it was still a Spanish colony. When the territory of Florida was established in 1822, Hernandez transferred his allegiance to the United States and was elected Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until March 3, 1823.
Hernandez later became a member and the presiding officer of the Territorial House of Representatives. He was appointed brigadier general of volunteers in the war against the Florida Indians. From 1835 to 1838 he served in the U.S. Army. In 1837 he commanded the expedition that captured the Indian Chief Oceola, and was appointed brigadier general of the Mounted Volunteers.
In 1845 Hernandez ran for the United States Senate as a Whig candidate, but was defeated. He then moved to Cuba where he managed his family's sugar estate in the district of Coliseo, near Matanzas. He died on June 8, 1857.