He attended the common schools and Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, for two years. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1836, and began the practicing law in Norwich this same year.
He engaged in mercantile pursuits. He served as state"s attorney for the county of New London from 1842 to 1844 and 1846 to 1854. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election as Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut in 1854, 1855, 1856, and 1857.
He served in the Connecticut Senate in 1865 and 1866, the latter year as president pro tempore.
Wait was elected as a Republican to the Forty-fourth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Henry H. Starkweather. He was reelected as a Republican to the Forty-fifth and to the four succeeding Congresses, serving from April 12, 1876, to March 3, 1887.
He was not a candidate for renomination in 1886, and resumed the practice of his profession. He died in Norwich, Connecticut, April 21, 1899, and was interred in Yantic Cemetery.
He served as member of the Connecticut House of Representatives in 1867, 1871, and 1873, serving as speaker in 1867.