He graduated from Williams College in 1807. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1812, commencing practice in Lisbon, New York.
He subsequently moved to Ogdensburg, New York and continued the practice of law. He was clerk of the board of supervisors of St. Lawrence County from 1820 to 1852, and was appointed district attorney of St. Lawrence County on February 24, 1821, and served until May 21, 1840. He was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-third Congress, serving from March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855.
He was not a candidate for renomination in 1854 and returned to Ogdensburg, where he continued the practice of law until his death there in 1866, aged 79. Interment was in Ogdensburg Cemetery.
Perkins was a member of the State constitutional convention in 1846 and a member of the New York State Assembly in 1846, 1847, and again in 1849.