Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Frye, William Pierce

(1830-1911) a U.S. Representative and a U.S. Senator, grandfather of Wallace Humphrey White, Jr., was born in Lewiston on September 2, 1830. He attended the public schools in Lewiston and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850; studied law, was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Rockland in 1853.

He returned to Lewiston and became a member of the Maine House of Representatives (1861-1862, 1867) and was Mayor of Lewiston from 1866 to 1867. He then served as Maine’s Attorney General from 1867 to 1869.

Elected as a Republican to the Forty-second and to the five succeeding Congresses, he served from March 4, 1871, to March 17, 1881, when he resigned, having been elected Senator.

On March 15, 1861, Frye had been elected a Republican member of the United States Senate, filling the vacancy caused by the resignation of James G. Blaine. He was reelected in 1883, 1889, 1895, 1901, and 1907, and served from March 18, 1881, until his death on August 8, 1911.

Among his assignments: President pro tempore of the Senate during the Fifty-fourth through the Sixty-second Congresses; chairman Committee on Rules (Forty-seventh through Forty-ninth Congresses), Committee on Commerce (Fiftieth through Sixty-second Congresses, except for the Fifty-third Congress).

He was also a member of the commission which met in Paris in September 1898 to adjust terms of peace between the United States and Spain. Frye died in Lewiston on August 8, 1911, with interment in Riverside Cemetery.  Since was still serving as a member of Congress, he was succeeded by Obadiah Gardner who was appointed, then elected to the vacant seat.

Additional resources

Banks, Ronald F. The Senatorial Career of William P. Frye. Thesis (M.A.)in History — University of Maine at Orono. 1958. [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]

Letters and portraits of William Pierce Frye, 1872-1911. (Cataloger Note: Included are a letter dated April 8, 1872 in which William Pierce Frye wrote: “My brief experience here in Washington justifies the belief that promises are cheap and performance rare”; a letter to Betsey Jackson in Jay, Maine dated July 1, 1884 in which he discusses legislation to increase pensions by $4 per month; a letter to J.A. Pike of Androscoggin Pomona Grange, Auburn, Maine dated April 22, 1910 in which he discusses the repeal of the tax on oleomargarine. . . .” [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]

Paul, Jean. Senator Frye of Maine. New Hampshire. (between 1893 and 1911) [Maine State Library]

U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses. 62nd Cong., 3rd sess., 1912-1913. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1913.

White, Wallace H. Senator William P. Frye. 1911? (Extracted from: Just Maine Folks by The Maine Writers Research Club.)

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This entry was last modified: March 01, 2014 03:05 PM

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