A member of the Maine House of Representatives in 1854, he served as speaker. A supporter of alcohol prohibition, in 1857 he spoke in two hundred towns advocating reenactment of the repealed “prohibitory law.”
He was a Democrat until 1853 when he supported Anson P. Morrill for Governor and later helped organize the Republican Party in Maine.
Clerk of the courts of Oxford County 1859-1863, Perham was elected as a Republican to the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, and Fortieth Congresses (March 4, 1863-March 3, 1869). He was chairman of the Committee on Invalid Pensions (Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses), but was not a candidate for renomination in 1868.
Perham served as Governor of Maine 1871-1874 and was the namesake of the Aroostook County town of Perham. He was president of the board of trustees of Westbrook Seminary, Deering (1865-1880) and of the Maine Industrial School at Hallowell (1873-1898). He was Secretary of State of Maine in 1875 to fill a vacancy. Later he served as appraiser in the customhouse at Portland (1877-1885).
He was a member of the board of trustees of the Universalist General Convention for twenty-seven years and served as president of the board. Perham died in Washington, D.C., April 10, 1907, with interment in Lakeside Cemetery, Bryant Pond, Oxford County, Maine.
*Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the 19th Century. Boston: Metropolitan Publishing and Engraving Company, 1885, pp. 143-146.
Chase, Henry. ed. Representative Men of Maine.
*Kennebec Journal, Augusta, April 12, 1907.
Town of Perham: People, Places, Past, Present 1867, 1897, 1997. Perham Ladies Group. Perham, Me. The Group. 1997.
*Cited in Friends of the Blaine House at http://blainehouse.org/governors(accessed April 25, 2011) (accessed April 25, 2011)