Art & History

Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress

  Dalip Singh Saund of CaliforniaJon R. Friedman, 2007, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

On December 15, 1900, one of the early Hispanic Members of Congress, Delegate Pedro Perea of New Mexico, escorted a tall man with a handlebar moustache into the well of the U.S. House of Representatives. Robert W. Wilcox took the oath of office as the first Delegate from the Territory of Hawaii. The first Asian Pacific American (APA) Member of Congress—and the first individual from outside the continental United States—set to work.

Over the course of the next century, more than 60 individuals of Asian or Pacific Islander ancestry followed Delegate Wilcox into the U.S. Congress. Rooted in U.S. expansion into the Pacific Ocean, the story of APAs in Congress was also influenced by successive waves of immigrants and refugees who arrived on American shores. In time, APAs moved from almost complete exclusion and marginalization to a rising influence at the center of American government.

Today, Asian Pacific Americans represent an important and growing population in Congress. Use the interactive map to learn more about Asian Pacific Americans in Congress.