Dennis Hastert was born in Aurora, Illinois and grew up in Oswego, Illinois. Throughout high school, he competed in football and wrestling and continued to wrestle while at Wheaton College. After graduating from Wheaton College in 1964, he earned a master's degree in education from Northern Illinois University in 1967. Throughout high school, he competed in football and wrestling and continued to wrestle while at Wheaton College. After teaching English in Osaka, Japan in the early 1970s he moved to Yorkville, IL and took a job as a government and history teacher at Yorkville High School. Hastert also coached wrestling and football, leading the wrestling team to a state title in 1976. His family owns the locally famous fried chicken restaurant "The White Fence Farm" in Bolingbrook, IL.
In 1986, Dennis Hastert began serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and rose to the position of Speaker of the House, the third highest elected official in the U.S. government, in 1999. He left office in 2007 after four terms as Speaker and ten terms as Congressman. Under his leadership Congress paid down an historic amount of public debt, locked away Social Security and Medicare dollars, and worked to revitalize low-income neighborhoods. In response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he guided Congress to pass legislation creating a Department of Homeland Security. Hastert worked with members on both sides of the aisle to pass an economic growth package that would create jobs and grow the economy. Dennis Hastert also served as Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice. Chairman Hastert had broad oversight for the Departments of State, Defense and Justice, as well as the nation's War on Drugs and the 2000 Census. As a member of the House Commerce Committee, Hastert had jurisdiction over energy policy, interstate and foreign commerce and broadcast and telecommunications policy. The United States Olympic Committee named him Honorary Vice President of the American Olympic movement in 2001. Hastert was also the recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award in 2004 by the Boy Scouts of America for noteworthy and extraordinary service to youth.
On November 26, 2007, Hastert submitted his resignation to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.