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Governor William Lewis Sharkey

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Office Dates:  Jun 13, 1865 - Oct 16, 1865

Born:  Jul 12, 1798

Passed:  Mar 30, 1873

Birth State:  Tennessee

Party:  Provisional

Family:  Married Minerva (Hyland) Wren; one child

National Office(s) Served:  Ambassador

WILLIAM L. SHARKEY, the twenty-fifth governor of Mississippi, was born near Muscle Shoals, Tennessee on July 12, 1798. His education was attained at a college in Greenville, Tennessee. He studied law in Mississippi, was admitted to the bar in 1822, and then established a successful legal practice in Warrenton. Sharkey first entered politics as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, a position he held from 1828 to 1829. He also was a circuit court judge in 1832, served on the bench of the Mississippi State Supreme Court from 1832 to 1851, and was the U.S. Consul in Havana from 1851 to 1853. From 1854 to 1856 he worked on the compilation of the Mississippi Code of 1857, as well as serving as the commissioner on Reconstruction in 1865. On June 13, 1865 President Andrew Johnson named Sharkey as the provisional governor of Mississippi. He served in that capacity until October 16, 1865. During his tenure, a constitutional convention was assembled that called for state elections to be held that October. At that time, Sharkey was chosen to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate. However, he was denied his seat, due to the state’s refusal to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment. Sharkey then returned to his legal practice, retiring from political life. Governor William L. Sharkey passed away on March 30, 1873, and was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, Mississippi.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

Mississippi Historical Society

The Political Graveyard