He attended North Yarmouth Academy and Dartmouth College, was graduated from Bowdoin College in 1845. Fessenden studied law, was admitted to the bar in April 1848, and began his practice in Mechanic Falls.
Moving to Auburn in 1850, he continued the practice of law and was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1856 and 1868. He was a member of the Maine House of Representatives in 1860 and 1868, and prosecuting attorney for Androscoggin County in 1861 and 1862.
Elected as a Republican to the Thirty-seventh Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Charles W. Walton, he served from December 1, 1862, to March 3, 1863, but was not a candidate for renomination in 1862.
Fessenden resumed the practice of law and died in Auburn on September 28, 1868, with interment in Riverside Cemetery in Lewiston.