Larrazolo, Octaviano, 1859-1930

Alternative names
Birth 1859-12-07
Death 1930-04-07

Biographical notes:

Politician, educator. Born 1859 in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Educated in New Mexico. In 1895 moved to Las Vegas, N.M. where he established a law office. Ran several times for political office. Elected governor of New Mexico in 1918. Worked to include safeguards for the rights of "Spanish-Americans" in the drafting of the New Mexico state constitution. In 1928 elected to U.S. Senate.

From the description of Papers, 1841-1981 (bulk 1885-1930). (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 38419904

Politician, educator. Born 1859 in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Educated in New Mexico. In 1895 moved to Las Vegas, N.M. where he established a law office. Ran several times for political office. Elected governor of New Mexico in 1918. Worked to include safeguards for the rights of "Spanish-Americans" in the drafting of the New Mexico State Constitution. In 1928 elected to U.S. Senate.

From the guide to the Octaviano A. Larrazolo Photograph Collection, 1875-1900, (University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research)

The 1919 Inauguration of New Mexico Governor Octaviano Larrazolo. (Box 2, Album).

Octavinano Ambrosio Larrazolo was born December 7, 1859, at El Valle de San Bartolomé, later known as El Valle de Allende, in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. His parents were Octaviano Larrazolo and Donaciana Corral de Larrazolo. Larrazolo's grandfather, José Maria Larrazolo, who had died prior to his birth, was a well-to-do business man of the town. His mother's family was well known in that part of Chihuahua, and she was "a well educated lady."

At the age of ten, in November of 1870, Octaviano A. Larrazolo left Mexico for the territory of Arizona with Father Bernal and Archbishop J.B. Salpointe, who was the second Archbishop of Santa Fe and the first Archbishop of Arizona. Bishop Salpointe sponsored Larrazolo's education and was a benefactor, mentor, and friend during the early part of his life. Octaviano attended school in Las Cruces, New Mexico for two years at a parochial institution established by Salpointe in 1873. On the 21st day of March 1875, Larrazolo arrived at Santa Fe, New Mexico where Salpointe enrolled him the next day as a boarding student at St. Michael's College (El Colegio de San Miguel).

In 1876, after a year and one-half of study at St. Michael's, Larrazolo completed his formal education, having become proficient in English and excelling in public speaking. With the advice and support of his mentor, Bishop Salpointe, Larrazolo decided to move to San Elizario, El Paso County, Texas where he became a school teacher by order of County Judge G.N. Garcia, February 23, 1878.

In 1879, Larrazolo invited his parents to move to San Elizario where he continued teaching and farming. On April 25, 1881, he married Rosalia Cobos. After the death of his father in 1882 and the birth of his first child in 1883, Larrazolo decided to become an attorney. He became a United States citizen in 1884 and in 1885 he left the teaching profession for the appointed position of clerk of the United States County Circuit and District Court at El Paso, Texas. By 1886, Larrazolo was elected to his first public office, District Court Clerk of El Paso County. In 1888 he moved to El Paso and was admitted into the Texas bar to practice law. In 1889 he was elected district attorney for the 34th Judicial District of Texas at El Paso.

In March of 1891 his wife Rosalia died. Larrazolo was left with the responsibility of raising his family and extended family. After one and one-half years as a widower, he married Maria Garcia in August of 1892. When his mother died in 1893, he began considering the business and political opportunities in New Mexico and, in 1895, Octaviano and Maria Larrazolo moved their family to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Larrazolo established a law office in Las Vegas where he also became involved in civic and public affairs and in the Democratic party. He put his public speaking ability to good effect and was known as the "silver-tongued orator" throughout the Southwest. By the 1900s he had developed a wide reputation as a successful attorney and public speaker. In 1900 he was asked to run as the Democratic party candidate for delegate to the congress of the United States, but was defeated by Bernard S. Rodey. Continuing his law practice in Las Vegas, Larrazolo also wrote extensively in Spanish for such newspapers as La Voz del Pueblo and Revista Catolica. His newspaper articles and speeches stressed the need for more and better educational facilities in the territory and strongly advocated bilingualism.

In 1906 Governor of the Territory Miguel Otero appointed Larrazolo to the Board of Regents of the New Mexico Normal University. He was persuaded to run again as the Democratic candidate for congress. The outcome was the same as in 1900, with Larrazolo losing by small margins in highly contested races in 1906 and again in 1908. By 1910 the issue of statehood occupied much of his time. He worked diligently to include safeguards for the rights of "Spanish-Americans" in the drafting of the constitution. Because of the opposition of the Democratic party to the 1910 constitution of New Mexico, Larrazolo changed parties.

On November 5, 1918, Larrazolo was elected as the first Republican governor of New Mexico. He worked on issues relating to education, particularly bilingual education; hemispheric solidarity between the United States and the countries of Latin America, especially with Mexico; public health; employment for returning war veterans; the Rio Grande water conservancy district; problems of farmers; women suffrage; highway construction; the mining industry; and the rights of labor and management. Larrazolo also worked on issues concerning public lands and federal ownership and was associated with the Good Roads Association, which elected him president in 1922. He was not nominated to a second term as Governor of New Mexico.

In 1921 Larrazolo moved back to El Paso to open a law office with Nick Meyer attending to business in the area as well as in the Republic of Mexico. However, by 1922 he was back in New Mexico, having opened a law office in Albuquerque. He continued handling business matters in El Paso and Mexico and worked for the "progressive" movement and against "bossism" in New Mexico. In 1926 Larrazolo became the republican candidate for state House of Representatives and was elected to that position. In 1928 at the age of sixty-nine Octaviano Larrazolo was elected to a short term as U.S. senator. He enjoyed the distinction of being the only native of Mexico elected governor of the state and became the only Mexican native elected to the upper House of the United States Congress, where he continued to press for better education in the state of New Mexico and for the ceding of federally held public lands in the West to the states themselves. Octaviano A. Larrazolo died on April 7, 1930.

From the guide to the Octaviano A. Larrazolo Papers, 1841-1981 (bulk 1885-1930), (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)


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  • Teachers--New Mexico
  • Politicians
  • Governor
  • Politicians--New Mexico
  • Lawyers--New Mexico
  • Governors--New Mexico


  • Governors
  • Senators--United States
  • Governors--New Mexico
  • Senator


  • Albuquerque, NM, US
  • Valle de Allende, 06, MX