Samuel D. Hastings

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Samuel Dexter Hastings (July 24, 1816 – March 26, 1903) was an American merchant, banker, real estate dealer, activist, legislator and reformer from Wisconsin who served two one-year terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly.[1]


Hastings was born in Leicester, Massachusetts on July 24, 1816. He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he took part in the anti-slavery movement. In 1846, he moved to Wisconsin, settling in Geneva.

Public office[edit]

In 1849 Hastings he was elected as a Free Soiler, succeeding Democrat Erasmus Richardson. In January he introduced a series of bills calculated to force the hand of Democrats and Whigs, both of which parties were courting the newly successful Free Soilers with an eye towards merger. The "Hastings resolutions", as they came to be called, urged Wisconsin's Representatives and instructed its Senators (then elected by the Legislature) to apply their power and influence to completely break with slavery: to forbid the admission of new slave states, to ban slavery in all federal territories, and to repeal any laws that favored slave labor over free. The tensions revealed by the votes of all three parties on these and related resolutions would eventually lead the Free Soilers to conclude that merger with either of the old parties was an illusion unworthy of pursuit.[2] He was succeeded in the 1850 session by Alexander S. Palmer, a Democrat.

Hastings moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and later to Trempealeau.

In 1857, he was again elected to the Assembly, this time as a Republican. He served as Wisconsin State Treasurer from 1858–1866, and as a trustee of the State Hospital for the Insane, and in similar positions for other state bodies headquartered in Madison.

In 1884, Hastings (long involved with the temperance movement) ran as the Prohibitionist candidate for Governor of Wisconsin, and in 1892 as a Prohibitionist candidate for the Assembly from Madison.

Civic activism[edit]

He was a founding member of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters,[3] and later served as Treasurer of that body.[4]

Hastings argued against the idea that the introduction of the wine-drinking habit into the United States would be a preventative for drunkenness.[5]

He died March 26, 1903 in Evanston, Illinois. Some of his papers are in the holdings of the Wisconsin Historical Society.[6]


  1. ^ "Term: Hastings, Samuel Dexter 1816 - 1903". Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Chapter Four: "A Party Distinct and Separate" in, McManus, Michael J. Political Abolitionism in Wisconsin, 1840-1861 Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1998; pp. 56-65
  3. ^ ["Charter", in Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Madison: Atwood & Culver, Printers and Stereotypers, 1873-1874; Vol. II, p. 9]
  4. ^ "Council" in, Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters Madison: Democrat Printing Company, State Printers, 1892. Volume VIII (1888-1891); n.p.
  5. ^ Hastings, Samuel D. "On domestic wine and temperance" pp. 99-107, in: Wisconsin State Horticultural Society, Transactions of the Wisconsin State Horticultural Society, held at Madison, February 7th, 8th, and 9th, 1871 Madison, 1871
  6. ^ Hastings, Samuel D. (Samuel Dexter), 1816-1903. "Papers, 1838-1872."
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Kuehn
Treasurer of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
William E. Smith