About William Wirt Hastings, Principal Chief
William Wirt Hastings (December 31, 1866 - April 8, 1938) was a U.S. Representative from Oklahoma.
Born on a farm in Benton County, Arkansas, near the Indian Territory boundary, Hastings moved with his parents to a farm at Beatties Prairie, Delaware County (then part of the Cherokee Nation in Indian Territory), Oklahoma, and attended the Cherokee tribal school. He graduated from Cherokee Male Seminary, at Tahlequah, in 1884. He was a teacher in the Cherokee tribal schools 1884-1886 and 1889-1891. He graduated from the law department of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1889. He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Attorney general for the Cherokee Nation 1891-1895. National attorney for the Cherokee tribe 1907-1914. He served as delegate to the Democratic State convention in 1912. He served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1912.
Hastings was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-fourth, Sixty-fifth, and Sixty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1915-March 3, 1921). He served as chairman of the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior (Sixty-fifth Congress). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1920 to the Sixty-seventh Congress, losing to Republican Alice Mary Robertson. This was the first time in history that an incumbent U.S. Congressman was defeated by a female candidate.
Hastings was elected to the Sixty-eighth and to the five succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1923-January 3, 1935). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1934. He resumed practicing law in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Commissioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 22, 1936, as chief of the Cherokees for one day to sign certain papers. He died April 8, 1938, in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He was interred in City Cemetery, Tahlequah, Oklahoma.