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As the railroad blazes its way across the country, the town of Clover City is scheduled to become an important junction on the line. Railroad tycoon Jim Knox will stop at nothing to acquire the land he needs to build the railroad, and hires a gang of cutthroats to burn down the homes of the ranchers whose property lies on the right of way. The beleaguered ranchers are led by Thomas Logan, whose son Steve is returning home after finishing his law studies at Harvard. When Jerry "Pop" Wilkie's house is burned down, Rutledge, a local resident, shoots Gagan, who was working with Knox and was responsible for the blaze. Later, Maggie Adams, Steve's old sweetheart, warns Knox that Steve will lead the embittered town in bringing him to justice. After evaluating the situation, however, Steve decides that the best way to combat the railroad king is to pretend to be his ally. Disowned by his family and friends for his apparent allegiance to Knox, Steve secretly circulates a newspaper in which he accuses the tycoon of stealing property. He also preaches the principles of free choice and democracy to the railroad construction gang, which is composed mainly of immigrants. Steve befriends Knox' construction foreman, Chris Mulligan, and convinces him that his boss is a swindler and a crook. Maggie, thinking that Steve has abandoned her as well as his morals, becomes furious with him and, out of spite, agrees to marry Knox to make him jealous, but her plan fails. Realizing that Knox is preoccupied with his underground newspaper, Steve convinces the tycoon to start his own newspaper, and when Knox purchases the equipment, Steve steals the new press for his own use. Tension is heightened when Tom is shot and his house is set ablaze, and when Knox tries to prevent Steve from rescuing his father from the fire. After revealing his plan to win Knox' confidence to his father and Maggie, Steve makes an appeal to the townspeople by speaking against tyranny, while Knox stands at the opposite end of the stage and makes threats against him. Things look bad for Steve until Maggie saves the day by leading everyone in the song, "My Country 'Tis of Thee." As a result, the townspeople show their solidarity with Steve, and Knox is overthrown. Having restored the tenets of democracy to the town of Clover City, Maggie and Steve reunite.