Powell Clayton attended the Partridge Military Academy in Bristol. He then studied in Wilmington, Delaware engineering. In 1855, Clayton moved to Leavenworth in Kansas, where he was employed by the city council as a surveyor ( surveyor ). At the outbreak of the American Civil War, he appeared as Captain in the "First Kansas Infantry Regiment" one. During the war, he returned to the regimental commander, and even to brigadier general. Clayton was mainly used in Arkansas. He participated in several battles, in which also many of his soldiers fell. Clayton was there also at the capture of the capital of Little Rock. Later he became commandant of the city of Pine Bluff in Jefferson County., where he resisted an attack by the Confederates successfully. at the end of his military service, he commanded the cavalry Division of the Seventh Corps of the Union Army.
In August 1865 Clayton retired from the army. There he returned to Arkansas, where he rented a confiscated by the U.S. Treasury plantation along with his brothers. He was wealthy enough to buy their own plantation. In 1867, he helped build the Republican Party in Arkansas. He was motivated by the encroachments of some former supporters of the Confederacy to his plantation. Clayton was swiftly promoted to the party and was nominated for an indigenous candidate for top candidates for the gubernatorial elections.
Governor of Arkansas
After the successful election Clayton could take up his post on July 2, 1868. A major problem was the increasing violence. Politically, he was opposed by conservative forces, while at the same time joined the Ku Klux Klan with violent activities in appearance. The governor reacted decisively to this challenge and imposed over eleven districts martial law. This allowed him, unlike many other Southern states to obtain the Klan activities early in the handle. In addition, he also took on Black in the National Guard, which was a scandal in the country in the eyes of conservatives.
This made the governor anyway life difficult and tried several times unsuccessfully to remove him from office. The charges against him ranged from corruption to the allegation of personal involvement in crime. Clayton but was acquitted. But also from parts of his own party came to object to his policies. Nevertheless, his government was successful. In addition to the actions against the machinations of the Ku Klux Klan, the railway network in the country was re- established and expanded and the school system has been improved. In 1871, Clayton was elected to the U.S. Senate. For this reason he resigned on March 17 this year, back by the Office of the Governor.
Between 1871 and 1877 represented Clayton Powell his state in Congress in Washington. There he was on several committees while he was leader of the Republican Party of Arkansas. In addition, he was in the Republican National Committee and played in the events in the gubernatorial election of 1872 and the subsequent Brooks - Baxter War, a significant role, which led to the shortening of the term of office of Governor Elisha Baxter. Later he was director of a railway company and 1897-1905 U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. In 1912 he moved to Washington, where he died in 1914. He was married to Adaline McGraw, with whom he had five children.
Powell Clayton is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.