William L. Sharkey

William L. Sharkey
25th Governor of Mississippi
In office
June 13, 1865  October 16, 1865
Preceded by Charles Clark
Succeeded by Benjamin G. Humphreys
Personal details
Born July 12, 1798
Sumner County, Tennessee, U.S.
Died March 30, 1873 (aged 74)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Whig Party

William Lewis Sharkey (July 12, 1798 – March 30, 1873) was an American judge and politician from Mississippi.


Early life

William Lewis Sharkey was born on July 12, 1798 in Sumner County, Tennessee. He moved to Warren County, Mississippi in 1804 with his family, when he was six years of age. In 1822, he was accepted into the bar in Natchez, Mississippi.


In 1825, he moved to Vicksburg and after a few years was elected for a single term to the state House of Representatives (1828–1829). He served briefly in 1832 as a circuit court judge before being elected a justice to the state supreme court later that year where he remained for 18 years until his resignation. Sharkey was appointed to the office of Secretary of War by U.S. President Millard Fillmore in 1851, but declined.

He was a member of the Whig Party and was strongly opposed to the secession of Mississippi in 1861. Throughout the American Civil War, he remained a staunch Unionist and, according to one source, was "tolerated by his Confederate neighbors only because of his towering reputation as a jurist."

Governor Charles Clark appointed him in 1865 as a commissioner (along with William Yeager) to confer on behalf of the state with President Andrew Johnson. On June 13, 1865, Johnson appointed Sharkey to be provisional governor,[1] leaving office with the election of Benjamin G. Humphreys in October. He was elected Senator in 1865 but was denied his seat by the United States Congress.


He died in Washington, D.C. in 1873. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, Mississippi.


Sharkey County, Mississippi is named after him.


  1. Presidential Proclamation No. 39, 13 June 1865, 13 Stat. 761, 762
Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Clark
Governor of Mississippi
Succeeded by
Benjamin G. Humphreys
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