Lawrence Yates Sherman – U.S. Senator

Lawrence Yates Sherman was born November 8, 1858 in Miami County, Ohio. His parents Nelson and Maria (Yates) Sherman, first moved to McDonough County, Illinois in 1859 and eventually settled in Jasper County in 1867. Sherman attended public school and the Lees Academy in Coles County. In order to pay for a college education he alternately taught school in Effingham and Jasper counties and attended McKendree College at Lebanon, Illinois. Sherman graduated from McKendree College in 1882. In that same year he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Macomb.

After passing the bar, Sherman involved himself in Illinois politics. He was city attorney for Macomb, Illinois from 1885 to 1887 and a McDonough County judge from 1886 to 1890. In 1890, he entered into the private practice of law in Macomb

Besides being a partner in the law firm of Sherman, Tunnicliff and Gumbart, Sherman was elected Macomb city attorney in 1885. From 1886 to 1890, he served as McDonough County Judge. In 1896 Sherman was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives from the twenty-eighth district. He represented the twenty-eighth district from 1897 to 1902 and the thirty-second district from 1903 to1904. During the 41st (1899-1900) and 42nd (1901-1902) General Assemblies, Sherman served as Speaker of the House.

While Speaker, Sherman played an important role in the creation of Western Illinois State Normal School (now Western Illinois University) and was instrumental in the selection of Macomb for its location.  Sherman Hall, the main administrative building at Western Illinois University, was renamed after Senator Sherman in 1957.

He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 1904 and served during the first administration of Charles Deneen (1905-1908). After leaving the Lieutenant Governorship, Sherman who had made Springfield his home, ran unsuccessfully for mayor.

From 1909 to 1913 he was president of the Illinois State Board of Administration, which controlled seventeen state charities. On March 26, 1913 the Illinois General Assembly elected Sherman to fill the unexpired term (1913-1915) of William Lorimer, who had been expelled. Sherman was reelected to the Senate in 1914. During his senatorial career, Sherman vigorously opposed ratification of Woodrow Wilson’s proposal for a League of Nations. He was chairman of the Committee for the District of Columbia and a vocal critic of President Wilson.

In 1915, Sherman was considered as a potential candidate for the 1916 Republican Presidential nomination. He also served as a member of the Republican National Committee from 1916 to 1924 and was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1912, 1920, 1924 and 1928. Sherman did not seek reelection in 1920 because of a hearing problem.

Following his Senate retirement in 1921, he practiced law in Springfield. In 1924, Sherman moved to Daytona Beach, Florida where he also practiced law. He was among the organizers of the First Atlantic National Bank of Daytona Beach in 1924 and served as its president in 1925. He later became chairman of the bank board and when it merged with the Atlantic National Bank of Jacksonville in 1930, Sherman served as a director of the new institution until his retirement in 1933.

Sherman was married briefly to Ella M. Crews, who died in 1893 after two years of marriage. In 1908 he married Estelle Spitler, a niece of his first wife. Their only child Virginia (Mrs. Marion H. Graham) was born in 1909. Estelle Sherman died in 1910. Sherman died in Daytona Beach, Florida, on September 15, 1939.