Allen Taylor Caperton was born on November 21, 1810, on his family’s estate in Monroe County. During the 1840s and 1850s, he served as a Whig in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate.
As the Civil War approached, Caperton was personally opposed to secession. However, in April 1861, he served as a delegate to the Virginia secession convention and voted with the majority to join the Confederacy.
From 1863 until the end of the war two years later, he represented Virginia in the Confederate Senate. He was one of only three Virginians to serve in the Confederate Senate during the Civil War.
In 1875, the West Virginia Legislature elected Caperton, now a Democrat, to be a United States senator. In doing so, Caperton set two precedents. He became the first ex-Confederate elected to the U.S. Senate. He also was the first and only former Confederate senator to serve in the U.S. Senate after the war. His time in the senate, though, was brief—less than 17 months.
He died in July 1876 at the age of 65 and was buried in his hometown of Union.