Francisco Perea of New Mexico, who fought to keep his territory loyal to the Union and served a term as a Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives during the Civil War, was born on this date in Los Padillas, New Mexico. Perea attended private schools in New Mexico, and studied at colleges in St. Louis and New York City. Two of Perea’s schoolmates from New Mexico, Jose Francisco Chaves and Miguel Antonio Otero, later served as Delegates to Congress. After college, Perea returned to New Mexico and built a successful distribution and ranching business. From the summer of 1861 to the summer of 1862, Union forces attempted to dislodge Confederate occupiers of the New Mexico Territory. Over a four-month period, Perea rallied prominent New Mexicans, then under pressure to support the Confederacy, to remain with the Union. He raised a battalion at his own expense and served as lieutenant colonel of a regiment, seeing action against insurgents and Native Americans in the decisive battle of Apache Canyon that broke the back of the Confederate offensive in New Mexico. During the summer of 1863, Perea challenged José Manuel Gallegos for a seat in Congress. Narrowly elected as a Delegate to the 38th Congress (1863–1865), Perea submitted bills for war damage compensation and disputed land claims for his constituents. A close friend of Abraham Lincoln, Perea was seated near Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theatre when the President was assassinated. Defeated for re-election to the 39th Congress (1865–1867) by Chaves, Perea returned to his business activities in New Mexico. He died in Albuquerque, on May 21, 1913.
Republican Delegate Francisco Perea of New Mexico