Born in Rochester, New Hampshire, Whitehouse received a common-school education. He moved to New York City in 1835 and was engaged as a clerk until 1839, when he moved to Brooklyn, New York, and engaged as a merchant and manufacturer of shoes. He moved to Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1860 and continued the shoe manufacturing business.
Whitehouse was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-third and Forty-fourth Congresses (March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1877).
He served as chairman of the Committee on Reform in the Civil Service (Forty-fourth Congress). He was not a candidate for reelection in 1876 to the Forty-fifth Congress.
He resumed the shoe manufacturing business. He was also interested in banking and railroading.
He was owner of the Daily News 1872–1880.
He died in Poughkeepsie, New York, August 24, 1881. He was interred in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New New York