Jeremiah Beaumont (jeh-reh-MI-uh BOH-mont), a man betrayed by his idealism as well as by the compromises and realities of life. An earnest young lawyer, he first becomes disillusioned with his benefactor, Colonel Cassius Fort, a famous lawyer and politician, on learning that Fort has seduced an innocent girl. He renounces his benefactor, becomes involved in politics, and marries the betrayed girl. Jeremiah loses a bitter election. He gives up his intention of killing his wife’s seducer, but a scurrilous political handbill, giving a false account of the seduction, enrages him. He kills his former benefactor and is convicted on the basis of false evidence. An old friend helps him to escape from prison. While hiding out, Jeremiah learns that this friend had been responsible for the libelous handbill. Jeremiah’s wife commits suicide, and he is murdered when he attempts to go back to tell the real story. Jeremiah’s story is a reworking of that of a historical figure, Jeroboam Beauchamp.
Colonel Cassius Fort
Colonel Cassius Fort, Jeremiah’s benefactor, a frontier politician. Although he did seduce the girl whom Jeremiah marries, he is not the author of the handbill that bears his name and that drives Jeremiah to kill him. This character is based on Colonel Solomon P. Sharp, who, like Fort, was assassinated in 1825.
(The entire section is 577 words.)