Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Charles J. Bayard

Second Committee Member

Robert M. York

Third Committee Member

Herbert H. Wood


William Pierce Frye served as a Senator from Maine for a period of thirty years, 1881-1911. During this time the United States passed from a nation still binding the wounds of the Civil War to a nation which achieved the status of a world power. Frye was an active participant in this growth and as much as any single individual, symbolized the United States of this period.

Like his country, Frye was often impulsive as his opposition to the Bayard-Chamberlain negotiations illustrates. He was an artist at "twisting the lion's tail" and never failed to exploit this ability whenever the position of his country or of himself could be enhanced at the expense of Great Britain.

The Senator was impressed with the greatness of his country, a greatness, which to him, was characterized by its bigness in industrial production rather than by its intellectual and cultural achievements. An analysis of his efforts to preserve this greatness, as he conceived it, has been attempted by investigating his position on such issues as foreign commerce, the tariff, and the merchant marine.

It was Frye's contention that territorial acquisitions were of prime importance to the United States if this country were to maintain her greatness. He championed, indefatigably, the annexation of Cuba and Hawaii and several times advocated that the United States should seize Canada and "hold her against the world." It was Frye who was personally responsible for the payment of twenty million dollars to Spain for the Philippine Islands in the Treaty of Paris, 1898.

The Senator from Maine held positions of national significance. He was a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as Chairman of the Committee on Commerce a subsidy to merchant vessels consumed much of his energies. For fifteen he was president pro-tempore of the senate and for five of those years served as acting Vice-President. From these positions he extended a profound influence on national policy. An attempt to analyze the results of this influence has been the object of this thesis.