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Hispanic and Latino Heritage Month: Primary Sources

This guide introduces library resources, research, and information related to Hispanic and Latino Heritage in the legal community.

Congressional Amendments, Treaties, and Major Acts of Congress

  • Adams-Onís (Transcontinental) Treaty of 1819
    • 8 Stat. 252-273
    • Provided for Spain’s cession of Florida to the United States and set the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase. The United States renounced claims to Texas and took responsibility for $5 million in American citizens’ claims against Spain. Approved by the Senate during the 16th Congress (1819–1821) on February 19, 1821. 
  • The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848
    • 9 Stat. 922-943
    • Ended the war between Mexico and the United States. Mexico ceded to the United States control of Texas north of the Rio Grande River, and the territory that eventually made up the states of California, Nevada, Utah, the bulk of New Mexico and Arizona (the Gadsden Purchase of 1853 secured the rest of the territory that comprises these states), and portions of Colorado and Wyoming. The United States paid the Mexican government $15 million and assumed $3.25 million in war claims by American citizens. Guaranteed Mexican citizens in those territories U.S. citizenship and property rights. Approved by the Senate during the 30th Congress (1847–1849) on March 10, 1848.
  • Texas and New Mexico Act (1850)
    • 9 Stat. 446-452
    • Provided Texas with $10 million, and in return Texas ceded all claims on New Mexico, formally setting the border between the two states. Stipulated that New Mexico could enter the Union either as a free or slave state based on its constitution. Passed by the 31st Congress (1849–1851) on September 9, 1850. 
  • Fourteenth Amendment (1868)
    • P.L. 39-48; 14 Stat. 358-359
    • Declared that all persons born or naturalized in the United States were citizens and that any state that denied or abridged the voting rights of males over the age of 21 would be subject to proportional reductions in its representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Approved by the 39th Congress (1865–1867) as H.J. Res. 127; ratified by the states on July 9, 1868.
  • The Treaty of Paris (1899)
    • 30 Stat. 1754-1762
    • Ended the Spanish-American War and Spain ceded Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, and portions of the West Indies to the United States. Additionally, Spain surrendered the Philippines to the U.S. for $20 million. Approved by the Senate during the 55th Congress (1897–1899) on February 6, 1899.
  • Foraker Act of 1900 (The Organic Act)
    • 31 Stat. 77-86
    • Established a Puerto Rican government administered by the U.S. President and Congress, with an 11-member executive council, a house of delegates, and a governor; the governor and executive council were all appointed by the U.S. President. Designated the island an “unorganized territory,” granting inhabitants “U.S. national” status but not full U.S. citizenship. Provided for biennial elections for a Resident Commissioner, with a non-voting seat in the U.S. House. Passed by the 56th Congress (1899–1901) as H.R. 8245. 
  • Second Jones Act of 1917 (The Jones-Shafroth Act)
    • P.L. 64-368; 39 Stat. 951-968
    • Designated Puerto Rico as a U.S. territory and granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. Created a bicameral legislature with U.S. congressional oversight to annul or amend legislation. The term for Resident Commissioner lengthened to four years. Passed by the 64th Congress (1915–1917) as H.R. 9533. 
  • Elective Governor Act of 1947 (The Crawford-Butler Act)
    • P.L. 80-362; 61 Stat. 770
    • Amended the Foraker Act to permit Puerto Ricans to elect their governor. Passed by the 80th Congress (1947–1949) as H.R. 3309.
  • Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act (1950)
    • P.L. 81-600; 64 Stat. 319
    • Mandated a Puerto Rican plebiscite on the territory’s future relationship with the United States. Presented three options: independence, statehood, or commonwealth. With the approval of a status option, the Puerto Rican legislature would convene a constitutional convention to draft a constitution for the island, including a bill of rights, to be submitted to the U.S. President and Congress for approval. Passed by the 81st Congress (1949–1951) as S. 3336.
  • Organic Act of 1950
    • P.L. 81-630; 64 Stat. 384
    • Granted U.S. citizenship to inhabitants of Guam and allowed for limited self-government, with a unicameral legislature and a governor appointed by the U.S. President. Oversight transferred from the U.S. Navy to the Department of the Interior. Passed by the 81st Congress (1949–1951) as H.R. 7273.
  • Bilingual Education Act (Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act Amendments of 1967)
    • P.L. 90-247; 81 Stat. 783
    • Granted federal money to local school districts to develop and provide bilingual education programs and teacher training. Passed by the 90th Congress (1967–1969) as H.R. 7819.
  • Delegate to the House of Representatives from Guam and Virgin Islands (1972)
    • P.L. 92-271; 86 Stat. 118
    • Created Delegate positions in the U.S. House of Representatives for Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands beginning in the 93rd Congress (1973–1975). Passed by the 92nd Congress (1971–1973) as H.R. 8787.
  • Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1975
    • P.L. 94-73; 89 Stat. 400
    • Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for seven years. Established coverage for other minority groups including Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans. Permanently banned literacy tests. Passed by the 94th Congress (1975–1977) as H.R. 6219. 
  • Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982
    • P.L. 97-205; 96 Stat. 131
    • Extended for 25 years the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Allowed jurisdictions that could provide evidence of maintaining a clean voting rights record for at least 10 years, to avoid preclearance coverage (the requirement of federal approval of any change to local or state voting laws). Provided for aid and instruction to disabled or illiterate voters. Provided for bilingual election materials in jurisdictions with large minority populations. Passed by the 97th Congress (1981–1983) as H.R. 3112.
  • Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
    • P.L. 99-603; 100 Stat. 3359
    • Offered legal status to those immigrants who entered the United States illegally prior to 1982 and had lived continuously in the country. Fined employers for knowingly hiring undocumented workers. Passed by the 99th Congress (1985–1987) as S. 1200.
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987
    • P.L. 100-259; 102 Stat. 28
    • Established that antidiscrimination laws are applicable to an entire organization if any part of the organization receives federal funds. Passed by the 100th Congress (1987–1989) as S. 557. 
  • Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992
    • P.L. 102-344; 106 Stat. 921
    • Broadened the scope of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, guaranteeing access to bilingual ballots and voter-assistance for minority communities not covered by the earlier legislation. Passed by the 102nd Congress (1991–1993) as H.R. 4312.
  • Voting Rights Act of 2006
    • P.L. 109-246; 120 Stat. 577
    • Extended the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for 25 years. Extended the bilingual election requirements through August 5, 2032. Directed the U.S. Comptroller General to study and report to Congress on the implementation, effectiveness, and efficiency of bilingual voting materials requirements. Passed by the 109th Congress (2005–2007) as H.R. 9. 

Executive Branch Documents

The Library of Congress has compiled Presidential proclamations for National Hispanic Heritage Week and National Hispanic Heritage Month and can be accessed here

A Latinx Resource Guide: Civil Rights Cases and Events in the United States

The Library of Congress compiled a resource guide on 20th and 21st-century American Court cases, legislation, and events that had essential impacts on civil rights in Chicana/o/x, Hispanic, Latina/o/x, Mexican-American, and Puerto Rican communities.

The guide can be accessed here