William Graves Sharp

William Graves Sharp (March 14, 1859 – November 17, 1922) was an American lawyer, manufacturer, three-term congressman, and diplomat.

William Graves Sharp
William Graves Sharp.png
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 14th district
In office
March 4, 1909 – July 23, 1914
Preceded byJ. Ford Laning
Succeeded bySeward Henry Williams
43 United States Ambassador to France
In office
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Preceded byMyron T. Herrick
Succeeded byHugh Campbell Wallace
Personal details
Born(1859-03-14)March 14, 1859
Mount Gilead, Ohio
DiedNovember 17, 1922(1922-11-17) (aged 63)
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Hallie M. Clough
Alma materUniversity of Michigan Law School


Sharp was born in Mount Gilead, Ohio on March 14, 1859.

He moved to Elyria, Ohio with his mother and her parents, occupying the Starr-Worthington home on Washington Avenue.

He graduated LL.B. from the Law Department of the University of Michigan in 1881 and then practiced law in Elyria. He also engaged in the manufacture of charcoal, pig iron, and chemicals. From 1885–88 he was prosecuting attorney of Lorain County, Ohio.

He was a Democratic presidential elector in 1892, a Democratic candidate for Congress in 1900, and a member of the Sixty-first to the Sixty-third Congresses (1909–15), but resigned in 1914 to become Ambassador to France by appointment of President Wilson. He served until April 14, 1919, then returned to Elyria, Ohio, and engaged in literary pursuits.

Sharp was known as the Father of Air Mail due to his vision of using aircraft for postal delivery. He crafted legislation for this goal which was eventually successful in being passed.

He was one of two Elyrians to have served in Congress and also one of two Lorain Countians (Myron T. Herrick) to have served as Ambassador to France during the early 20th century.

He died on November 17, 1922 in Elyria, Ohio and was interred in Ridgelawn Cemetery.

The family's Elyria home was purchased in 1945 by the Washington Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation which was relocating at that time from Elyria's Second Street. The Sharp home was incorporated into the church's new building, dedicated in 1951. Many of the mansion’s interior architectural details–including marble fireplaces, decorative ceiling mouldings, plaster reliefs on the parlor walls, and a beautiful grand staircase–remain.

Through the efforts of the Elyria Historical Association, Lorain County Historical Society, Ohio History Connection, and Washington Avenue Christian Church, an historical marker (Lorain County's 7th and Lorain County's 35th) was unveiled on the Washington Avenue property on September 3, 2020 with approximately 50 people present. Remarks at the unveiling were presented by the Honorable Frank Whitfield, Mayor of the City of Elyria, Mr. Bill Bird, President of the Elyria Historical Association, Ms. Kerri Broome, Executive Director of the Lorain County Historical Society, and the Rev. Nathan A. Russell, Senior Pastor.


  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1916). "SHARP, William Graves (1859- )". New International Encyclopedia. XX (2d ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. p. 793.

"SHARP, William Graves". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved 8 June 2013.

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
J. Ford Laning
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 14th congressional district

Succeeded by
Seward H. Williams
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Myron T. Herrick
United States Ambassador to France
Succeeded by
Hugh Campbell Wallace