Clanton is the county seat of Chilton County. The town was founded by Alfred Baker in 1868, when Chilton County was formed. Clanton was named in honor of General James H. Clanton, a brigadier in the Confederate States Army, and was incorporated on April 23, 1873. Baker was also elected first mayor of the town.
Early Civil Rights activist Ida B. Wells reproduced a photographic postcard depicting an 1891 lynching in Clanton to educate the white public of the atrocities committed against blacks.
During World War II, a small German Prisoner of War camp was located in Clanton.
Clanton is governed via the mayor-council system. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote. The city council consists of five members elected from one of five wards.
Over 80% of Alabama's peach crop comes from Chilton County.
The Chilton County School System provides public education for Clanton. Students in Clanton may attend any public school in Chilton County.