The son of a slave owner turns abolitionist and becomes a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
As fierce slavery debates are dividing the country, James Waynewright breaks family tradition and travels to New York to study. Having grown up on a tobacco plantation in Virginia he never questioned how his family’s wealth is generated. In the beginning he is shocked by what he feels are radical ideas of abolition and feels that Northerners have been subject to propaganda. As time goes on, James begins to understand their point of view, and he realizes that he no longer condones slavery.
James falls in love with Katherine Greenfield, an upper class New Yorker and an abolitionist. Due to unforeseen circumstances they hastily marry and return to the plantation. Intending to free their slaves, James and Katherine begin leading double lives in order to help runaways that are escaping north, at the same time having to navigate their neighbors’ increasing suspicion and the slave laws of their state.
James’ journey is the realization that the foundation of the world he lives in is immoral. The paradigm that he has accepted all his life comes into such conflict with his epiphany that he becomes willing to risk everything to do what is right.