Willis Sweet was the first United States Representative elected from Idaho following statehood in 1890. Sweet served as a Republican in the House from 1890 to 1895, representing the state at-large.
Sweet learned the printer’s trade in Lincoln and relocated west to Moscow in the Idaho Territory in 1881. Sweet was the first editor of the Moscow Mirror in 1882, studied law and became an attorney, judge, and supreme court justice in the territory. Also a territorial legislator, he was instrumental in bringing the University of Idaho to Moscow, and was the first president of its board of regents.
Sweet was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1896, but was defeated in the Idaho Legislature by Populist Henry Heitfeld. He was an attorney in north Idaho in Coeur d’Alene until his appointment as the attorney general of Puerto Rico in 1903. Sweet served until 1905 and then worked as a newspaper editor in San Juan from 1913 until his death in 1925.
A residence hall at the University of Idaho is named for Sweet. Opened in 1936, the building is now Carol Ryrie Brink Hall, a faculty office building. The Willis Sweet residence hall was relocated to the new Theophilus Tower in 1969, and later to the former McConnell Hall, on the northeast corner of Sixth and Rayburn streets.