The Honorable William P. Frye
William P. Frye graduated at Bowdoin College in 1850; studied law with Hon. William Pitt Fessenden and began the practice of his profession at Rockland. Soon, however, he removed to Lewiston and entered into a co-partnership with Thomas A. D. Fessenden, which continued until the death of the latter. Mr. Frye then took as a partner Mr. John B. Cotton, who became Assistant Attorney-General under President Harrison; and later, Mr. Wallace H. White, a son-in-law of the Senator, became the junior member of the firm of Frye, Cotton & White.
A fine physique and voice, a logical mind, and a ready tongue, contributed to his success, and he early gained a reputation as an eloquent advocate. The rapidity with which he absorbed the facts in a case and the promptness with which he met any new phase in its development are still subjects of comment in the Bar of Androscoggin County, of which he was the acknowledged leader.
In 1867 he was elected Attorney-General of the State and held the office for three years, during which he conducted the prosecution of several trials for capital offenses in such a manner as to gain a reputation which extended far beyond the .limits of his State.
But he was not allowed to devote himself exclusively to the practice of his profession. He was chosen in 1861, 1862, and 1867 as the Representative of Lewiston in the State Legislature; in 1864 he served as a presidential elector; in 1866 he was elected Mayor of Lewiston and re-elected in 1867; thus holding at one time no less than three public offices. He was a member of the Republican National Executive Committee in 1872; was re-elected in 1876 and again in 1880. He was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1872, 1876, and 1880, and in 1881 was elected chairman of the Republican State Committee, in the place of Hon. James G Blaine. He was chosen Trustee of Bowdoin College in 1880; received the degree of LL.D. from Bates College in 1881 and from Bowdoin in 1889. In 1871 he was elected a Representative to the Forty-second Congress, and he continued to hold a seat in that body until elected, in 1889, to the United States Senate, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of the Hon. James G. Blaine. He was re-elected to the Senate in 1883 and again 1888.
In the House of Representatives he was chairman of the Library Committee; served several years on the Judiciary and Ways and Means Committees, and during two Congresses was chairman of the Executive Committee. It was generally conceded that he would have been elected Speaker of the House in the Forty seventh Congress, had he not resigned before it met on account of his election to the Senate. In the House he was prominent as a debater, especially on political questions, displaying a degree of courage and brilliancy sufficient to give him a reputation as one of the foremost champions of the principles of the Republican Party. He took, also, a leading part in the discussion of all important national questions. In the distribution of the Geneva Award, he espoused the cause of the actual losers, conducted the contest in the House through four Congresses, and in the Senate through one, until the bill as originally introduced by him became a law and the entire fund was distributed according to its terms.
In the Senate he was for several years, until the recent change in administration, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, one of the largest and most important in that body. As such, he had charge of all matters relating to the general commerce of the country, and never failed in passing through the Senate measures which he reported from that committee.
In the reorganization of the Senate he retained a place on this committee, and also on that of Foreign Relations, and was given one of the few chairmanships of minor committees which are accorded to the minority.
He took a leading part in all matters touching our fishery relations with Canada. It was largely due to his efforts that the complications of affairs in Samoa were settled. He introduced the bill providing for a Congress of American Nations and took charge of it until it became a law, as he did also of the bill providing for the Maritime Congress and all legislation resulting there from. Indeed, he has been closely identified with most of the important legislation of Congress for the past twenty years.
He has been a political speaker in every campaign for thirty years, speaking in nearly every Northern State. On the platform, as in Congress, his speeches are remarkable, not only for their eloquence, but for the directness and courage with which he expresses his convictions.