Born in Mecca, Ohio, Rice attended the academy in Chester, Ohio. He taught in the district school during the winter months. He studied law. He was admitted to the bar in June 1854 and practiced for about three years in Mahoning County, Ohio. He moved in the spring of 1858 to California, Missouri. He served during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, in the United States Infantry Volunteer Service from Missouri. He received gradual promotions from first lieutenant to colonel. He returned to Missouri in the spring of 1866 and resumed the practice of his profession in Tipton, Missouri. He was circuit judge 1868-1874.
Rice was elected as a Greenbacker to the Forty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1881-March 3, 1883). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1882. He resumed the practice of law in Boonville, Missouri, until his death in that city November 7, 1895. He was interred in Tipton Cemetery, Tipton, Missouri.