Senator Allen Taylor Caperton (November 21, 1810-July 26, 1876) was born at Elmwood, the family estate in Monroe County. He was the son of Hugh and Jane (Erskine) Caperton. After attending a school in Huntsville, Alabama, and the University of Virginia, he graduated from Yale College. For a time he studied law in a Staunton, Virginia, law office and engaged in a brief practice in that town. In 1832, he married Harriet Echols, whose brother, John H. Echols, later a noted Confederate general, married Caperton’s sister.
A Whig prior to the Civil War, he represented Monroe County in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1841–42 and 1857–58 and served in the state Senate in 1844–48 and 1859–60. As a member of the Virginia constitutional convention of 1850, Caperton supported the western position in arguing for legislative representation on the basis of white population with no allowance for the number of slaves. Although he opposed secession, Caperton voted for it in the Virginia convention of 1861 in the belief that it might preserve peace. After Virginia entered the Confederacy, its state Senate elected him to the Confederate Senate, a position he held throughout the Civil War.
After the war, Caperton, by then a Democrat, returned to Monroe County. When Democrats gained control of West Virginia’s government in 1871, Caperton resumed an active political life. The state Senate elected him to the U.S. Senate, where he served in 1875–76, succeeding Arthur I. Boreman. Caperton died in Washington, and was buried at Union, Monroe County.
Caperton belonged to a well-established family. His father was an early congressman, and later generations produced business leaders and a governor. Governor Gaston Caperton served from 1989 to 1997.
This Article was written by Otis K. Rice
Last Revised on September 28, 2012
Morton, Oren F. A History of Monroe County. Staunton, VA: McClure, 1916, Reprint, Regional Pub. Co., 1974.
Wakelyn, Jon L. Biographical Dictionary of the Confederacy. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977.