From John G. Mattos, a first-generation immigrant from the island of Faial, elected to the California State Assembly in 1900, to David Valadão, a second generation Portuguese Californian elected to the US Congress in 2012, Portuguese-Californian immigrants have played a significant role in American politics in state and national legislatures.
The author, Dr. Alvin Graves, thoughtfully introduces the reader to the pioneer Portuguese politicians from California’s San Joaquin Valley, by reflecting on their upbringing, their family lives, their civil service, their accomplishment and, for some, their pathway to Washington DC and the National Congress.
Dr. Graves raises several thought provoking issues throughout this book, while allowing his readers the freedom to reach their own conclusions: “Is it simply a matter of coincidence that the relatively small Portuguese community in California’s San Joaquin Valley is so heavily represented in Congress while the much larger Portuguese community of Southeastern New England is not?”
To gain insight into the awareness and commitment of a community toward its civic responsibilities, one must understand the social force that binds the members of such community to specific courses of action. To understand a community in such a way is to understand its key motivators, its very social fabric. This book is but one step towards a broader discussion and understanding of Portuguese-American politics in California.