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Following the death of his wife, Gregory Vance, a respected Harvard educator and scholar, degenerates into a philosophical drunk, finally sinking to the position of night watchman. However, Vance's two young, children Joan and Donald, believe that their father can attain his former greatness if only he could find the inspiration to do so. Due to their father's tutoring, the children are outstanding students, but they dread going to school because the other children, led by bully Davy McCarthy, call their father a drunken bum. Donald and Joan find an ally in their new teacher, Miss Agnes Billow, who is impressed with their intelligence and intrigued when Donald utters the Harvard battle cry "Anghard" when fighting off Davy. She visits Vance and discovers that he is the scholar she has admired for years. Vance's luck begins to change when a press agent unearths the fact that he is the last uncommitted registered voter in a precinct that has traditionally determined the outcome of the election, and the mayor orders his political boss, Iron Hat McCarthy, to deliver Vance's vote. In response, Iron Hat tries to bribe Vance with a job as janitor, but Joan and Donald bargain with him until he offers their father the position of Commissioner of Education. Before Vance can cast his ballot, however, the children's wealthy grandparents appear and threaten to take them away from him. As Vance wrestles with the issue of compromising his ideals, the campaign makes him the center of attention, thereby restoring his self-respect. After shrewdly demanding the job offer in writing, Vance reveals that he voted against McCarthy's crooked political machine; thus he regains his dignity without sacrificing his honor. His dignity and family restored, Vance begins to court Miss Billow.