The Strange Case of Bill Richardson’s Birth


Many of you know that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson formally announced his presidential candidacy yesterday. He’s been effectively running for months now, so this isn’t really news. The only two things of note about the announcement were that Richardson spoke in Spanish and in English, highlighting his roots, and that he made the announcement in California, highlighting that state’s new role as a power base in national politics.

Okay, fine. You already knew Richardson is Hispanic and you already knew California is important. Bet you didn’t know this:

The candidate Mr. Richardson is more formally known as William Blaine Richardson 3d, the grandson on a Boston-born naturalist who had moved his family to Nicaragua in the late 1890s to do research for the Smithsonian Institution. His own father, William B. Richardson Jr., was actually born on a boat heading to Nicaragua and, according to an interview with Mr. Richardson in the Washington Post, always had a complex about not being born in America.

When Mr. Richardson’s father became a banker in Mexico City and married his Mexican secretary, he did not want his son to suffer the same fate.

So, in November 1947, when his mother, Maria Luisa Lopez-Collada Marquez, was pregnant with him, Mr. Richardson’s father sent her on a train to Pasadena where she gave birth before turning around and heading back to Mexico City, where Mr. Richardson was raised before being sent to boarding school in Massachusetts at age 13.

I love it! Richardson is basically an immigrant! I think that is completely awesome — no wonder he has the best line on immigration reform: “No fence ever built has stopped history.”

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