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Benigno C. Hernández

Benigno Cárdenas Hernández (February 13, 1862 – October 18, 1954) was the first Hispanic from New Mexico to serve as a full member of Congress.

Benigno Hernández
Benigno C Hernández.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1915 – March 3, 1917
Preceded byWilliam B. Walton
Succeeded byNestor Montoya
In office
March 4, 1919 – March 3, 1921
Preceded byHarvey Fergusson
Succeeded byWilliam B. Walton
Personal details
Born(1862-02-13)February 13, 1862
Taos, New Mexico Territory
DiedOctober 18, 1954(1954-10-18) (aged 92)
Los Angeles, California
Political partyRepublican
Occupationbusinessman, politician


Early yearsEdit

Hernández was born in Taos, New Mexico to Juan J. and Maria M. Hernández as the third of 15 children, where in his early years he attended both private and public schools. As a young man he moved to Lumberton in Rio Arriba County, where he raised sheep. In 1882 he returned to Taos, where he worked as a store clerk. In 1888 he became a private merchant, and for the next few years lived in various communities in New Mexico. In 1893 he established a store in Lumberton and six years later he set up the headquarters for his business activities in Tierra Amarilla, the county seat for Rio Arriba County.

Politics careerEdit

In 1900 Hernández began his political career when he became probate clerk and recorder in Tierra Amarilla. In 1904 he was elected county sheriff of Rio Arriba County and served for two years. From 1908 to 1912 he served as county treasurer and tax collector. In 1912 he was appointed receiver in the State Land Office in Santa Fe. During his tenure as an elected county official, he also served as a delegate to numerous State Republican Conventions. He resigned from the Santa Fe post the following year and returned to his business.

In 1914 Hernández was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; he sought reelection in 1916, but was defeated by William B. Walton. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention that year, as he had been at the last one. In 1918 he came back to defeat Walton. During his tenure in Congress he served on the Committee on Indian Affairs, the Agriculture Committee, and the Committee on Public Lands. He showed a special interest in the construction of an infrastructure for New Mexico, including bridges, reservoirs, dams, and public buildings.

In 1921 Hernández completed his second term and returned to New Mexico. On April 22, 1921 President Warren G. Harding appointed him collector of Internal Revenue for New Mexico. Hernández held that post until the inauguration of the Democratic administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, when he resigned and retired from active political life at age seventy-one. In 1934, he became an organizer for the political advocacy group League of United Latin American Citizens.[1] During World War II he served on the Selective Service Board of New Mexico. In the early 1950s Hernández moved to Los Angeles, California, and died there at age 92.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harvey B. Fergusson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 1st congressional district

4 March 1915 – 3 March 1917
Succeeded by
William Bell Walton
Preceded by
William Bell Walton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Mexico's 1st congressional district

4 March 1919 – 3 March 1921
Succeeded by
Néstor Montoya

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "Benigno C. Hernández (id: H000532)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • Benigno Cárdenas Hernández biography at the LOC Hispanic Americans in Congress
  • Benigno C. Hernández at The Political Graveyard