Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Jeremiah Beaumont is born in Kentucky in 1801. His father is Jasper Beaumont, one of the first settlers in Glasgow County, and his mother is the disinherited daughter of a wealthy planter. Jasper never prospers as he hoped, and his unfulfilled ambitions breed in him a strain of awkward moodiness that is reflected in his son.
Jasper dies, debt-ridden, when Jeremiah is thirteen. Before that time, the boy is in school with Leicester Burnham. Hoping for a better life than his father’s, Jeremiah is diligent in his studies. He is also stubbornly independent, for he refuses to become his grandfather’s heir because the old man insists that he take his mother’s maiden name, Marcher. When he is seventeen, Dr. Burnham introduces him to Colonel Cassius Fort, a famous frontier lawyer and politician who is looking for a young man to train in his law office at Bowling Green. Jeremiah is eager to accept Fort’s offer but cannot do so because of his ailing mother. Fort says that he is willing to wait for anyone Dr. Burnham recommends so highly.
The next spring, Mrs. Beaumont dies, and Jeremiah goes to Bowling Green to study law, not in Fort’s office, however, for the lawyer returned to Congress. Jeremiah’s only friend in the town is Wilkie Barron, another law student, from whose mother Jeremiah rents a room. Fort returns from Washington in 1820 and takes the young man under his patronage. From him, Jeremiah learns to look on the law not as a...
(The entire section is 1195 words.)
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