William H. Hastie
|Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit|
May 31, 1971 – April 14, 1976
|Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit|
October 21, 1949 – May 31, 1971
|Appointed by||Harry S. Truman|
|Preceded by||Seat established|
|Succeeded by||James Rosen|
|Governor of the United States Virgin Islands|
May 17, 1946 – October 21, 1949
|Preceded by||Charles Harwood|
|Succeeded by||Morris Fidanque de Castro|
|Judge of the United States District Court of the Virgin Islands|
March 26, 1937 – July 1, 1939
|Appointed by||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|Preceded by||George Jones|
|Succeeded by||Herman Moore|
William Henry Hastie Jr.
November 17, 1904
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||April 14, 1976 (aged 71)|
East Norriton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||Amherst College (BA)|
Harvard University (LLB, SJD)
William Henry Hastie Jr. (November 17, 1904 – April 14, 1976) was an American lawyer, judge, educator, public official, and advocate for the civil rights of African Americans. He was the first African American to serve as Governor of the United States Virgin Islands, as a federal judge, and as a federal appellate judge. He served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and previously served as District Judge of the District Court of the Virgin Islands.
Hastie was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of William Henry Hastie, Sr. and Roberta Childs. His maternal ancestors were 'allegedly' African-American and Native American, but European-American is also a strong possible mix. Family tradition held that one female ancestor was a Malagasy princess. He graduated from Dunbar High School, a top academic school for black students. Hastie attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he graduated first in his class, magna cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa, receiving an Artium Baccalaureus degree. He received a Bachelor of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1930, followed by a Doctor of Juridical Science from the same institution in 1933.
Hastie entered the private practice of law in Washington, D.C. from 1930 to 1933. From 1933 to 1937 he served as assistant solicitor for the United States Department of the Interior, advising the agency on racial issues. He had worked with Charles Hamilton Houston, former dean of the Howard University Law School, on setting up a joint law practice.
In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Hastie to the District Court of the Virgin Islands, making Hastie the first African-American federal judge. This was a controversial action; Democratic United States Senator William H. King of Utah, the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary called Hastie's appointment a "blunder."
In 1939, Hastie resigned from the court to become the Dean of the Howard University School of Law, where he had previously taught. During his tenure as a legal professor at Howard University, Hastie had become a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity. One of his students was Thurgood Marshall, who led the Legal Defense Fund for the NAACP and was appointed as a United States Supreme Court Justice.
Hastie served as a co-lead lawyer with Thurgood Marshall in the voting rights case of Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944), in which the Supreme Court ruled against white primaries. One of Houston's sons became a name partner at their law firm.
World War II
During World War II, Hastie worked as a civilian aide to the United States Secretary of War Henry Stimson from 1940 to 1942. He vigorously advocated the equal treatment of African Americans in the United States Army and their unrestricted use in the war effort.
On January 15, 1943, Hastie resigned his position in protest against racially segregated training facilities in the United States Army Air Forces, inadequate training for African-American pilots, and the unequal distribution of assignments between whites and non-whites. That same year, he received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, both for his lifetime achievements and in recognition of this protest action.
In 1946, President Harry S. Truman appointed Hastie as Territorial Governor of the United States Virgin Islands. He was the first African American to hold this position. Hastie served as governor from 1946 to 1949.
Federal judicial service
Hastie received a recess appointment from President Harry S. Truman on October 21, 1949, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, to a new seat authorized by 63 Stat. 493, becoming the first African-American federal appellate judge. He was nominated to the same position by President Truman on January 5, 1950. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 19, 1950, and received his commission on July 22, 1950. He served as Chief officer as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 1968 to 1971. He assumed senior status on May 31, 1971. He was a Judge of the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals from 1972 to 1976. His service terminated on April 14, 1976, due to his death in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while playing golf.
Supreme Court consideration
As the first African American on the Federal bench, Hastie was considered as a possible candidate to be the first African-American Justice of the Supreme Court. In an interview with Robert Penn Warren for the book Who Speaks for the Negro?, Hastie commented that, as a judge, he had not been able to be "out in the hustings, and to personally sample grassroots reaction," but that, in order for the civil rights movement to succeed, class and race must both be considered.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy considered appointing Hastie to succeed retiring Justice Charles Whittaker. But due to political calculations he did not. He believed that an African-American appointee would have faced fierce opposition in the United States Senate from Southerners such as James Eastland (D-Mississippi), chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Conversely, on issues other than civil rights, Hastie was considered relatively moderate, and Chief Justice Earl Warren reportedly opined that Hastie would be too conservative as a justice. Kennedy appointed Byron White instead.
Kennedy said that he expected to make several more appointments to the Supreme Court in his presidency and he intended to appoint Hastie to the Court at a later date.
- "History of the Federal Judiciary: First African American Judges", Federal Judicial Center
- Hastie, William H. (1972-01-05). "Truman Library - Judge William H. Hastie Oral History Interview" (Transcript). Interviewed by Jerry N. Hess. Retrieved 2013-03-01.
- Vile, John R. (2001). Great American lawyers: an encyclopedia. 1. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1576072029.
- Childs, John Brown (2000). "Red Clay, Blue Hills: In Honor of My Ancestors". In Maurianne Adams, Rosie Castaneda, Madeline L. Peters, Ximena Zuniga, Warren J. Blumenfeld(eds.) (eds.). Readings for Diversity and Social Justice : An Anthology on Racism, Sexism, Anti-Semitism, Heterosexism, Classism, and Ableism (1 ed.). New York ; London: Routledge. pp. 110–113. ISBN 0415926335.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
- Wynn, Linda T.; Bobby L. Lovett (1995-12-15). "William Henry Hastie (1904–1976)". In Linda T. Wynn, Gayle Brinkley-Johnson (eds.) (eds.). A Profile of African Americans in Tennessee History. Annual Local Conference on Afro-American Culture and History. Nashville, USA: Tennessee State University Library. Retrieved 2013-03-01.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
- "Hastie, William Henry - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
- "[USC04] 18 USC 23: Court of the United States defined". uscode.house.gov.
- James, Rawn (2013-01-22). The Double V: How Wars, Protest, and Harry Truman Desegregated America's Military (1 ed.). New York: Bl0]pp[p]pp]p][p]p[ppoomsbury Press. ISBN 9781608196081.
- "Judge Hastie, First Black Federal Jurist, Dead at 71". Jet. 50 (6). 1976-04-29. p. 6.
- Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. "William Hastie, Jr". Robert Penn Warren's Who Speaks for the Negro? Archive. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Schlesinger, Arthur Meier (2002). A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1st Mariner Books ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780618219278.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to William H. Hastie.|
- Childs, John Brown (2000). "Red Clay, Blue Hills: In Honor of My Ancestors". In Maurianne Adams, Rosie Castaneda, Madeline L. Peters, Ximena Zuniga, Warren J. Blumenfeld(eds.) (eds.). Readings for Diversity and Social Justice : An Anthology on Racism, Sexism, Anti-Semitism, Heterosexsm, Classism, and Ableism (1 ed.). New York ; London: Routledge. pp. 110–113. ISBN 0415926335.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
- Associated Press (1937-03-02). "Hastie's Selection Termed 'Blunder'". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. p. 17.
- Negro Soldiers Defended. New York Times. New York, N.Y.: Oct 4, 1941. pg. 14, 1 pg
- ARMY AIDE QUITS; PROTESTS NEGRO PILOT TREATMENT. Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Feb 1, 1943. pg. 21, 1 pg
- Hastie Nominated For Governorship Of Virgin Islands. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Jan 6, 1946. pg. M1, 2 pgs
- "FEDERAL JUDGE DIES; SLAVE'S GRANDSON". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif. 1976-04-15. p. 8. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
- "Judge William Hastie, 71, of Federal Court, Dies". The New York Times. New York, NY. 1976-04-15. p. 36. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
| Judge of the United States District Court of the Virgin Islands
|New seat|| Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Austin Leander Staley
| Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Collins J. Seitz
| Governor of the United States Virgin Islands
Morris Fidanque de Castro