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William F. Sheehan (November 6, 1859 Buffalo, Erie County, New York - March 14, 1917) was an American lawyer and politician. During his political career he became known as Blue-Eyed Billy.


He began his political career as a clerk in the office of his brother John Sheehan, who was City Controller of Buffalo until Grover Cleveland refused to have him on his mayoral ticket in 1881.

He was Democratic a member from Erie County of the New York State Assembly from 1885 to 1891. As an assemblyman, he secured the appointments of his brother John as a clerk in the New York Aqueduct Board, and of his law partner Charles F. Tabor as First Deputy of the New York State Attorney General. In 1891, he was elected Speaker of the New York State Assembly.

He was Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1892 to 1894, elected in 1891. Afterwards he established a prosperous law firm in New York City with Alton B. Parker.

He was a member of the New York Democratic State Committee from 1889 to 1893, and a member from New York of the Democratic National Committee in 1891 and 1896. He was a delegate from New York to the Democratic National Convention in 1912.

In the U.S. Senate election of 1911, he was the Democratic candidate to succeed Chauncey Depew as U.S. Senator from New York. Sheehan was nominated by the Democratic caucus, but was successfully blocked by a group of "Insurgents", led by State Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt.

He was a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1915.

He died in 1917 in command of a multi-million dollar fortune.


  • [1] Struggle for State patronage, in NYT on September 13, 1887
  • [2] Political Graveyard
  • [3] Senatorial election, in NYT on March 20, 1911
Political offices
Preceded by
James W. Husted
Speaker of the New York State Assembly
Succeeded by
Robert P. Bush
Preceded by
Edward F. Jones
Lieutenant Governor of New York
Succeeded by
Charles T. Saxton


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