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William L. Sharkey

William L. Sharkey (July 12, 1798 - April 29, 1873) was a Mississippi judge and politican. He was born in Sumner County, Tennessee where he and his family lived until they moved to Warren County, Mississippi when he was six years of age. In 1822, he was accepted into the bar at Natchez. Three years later 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 declined an appointment to be Secretary of War by President Millard Fillmore in 1851. He was a member of the Whig Party and was strongly opposed to the secession of Mississippi in 1861. Throughout the War Between the States 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 U.S. President Andrew Johnson. In that year, Johnson appointed Sharkey to be provisional governor, leaving office with the election of Benjamin G. Humphreys in October. He was elected Senator in 1865 but was denied to be seated by Congress. Sharkey died in Washington, D.C. in 1873.

Sharkey County, Mississippi is named after him.