When Americans created civilization from wilderness, there were those who followed the rules and those who created their own-an enduring conflict between liberty and virtue that formed a new land.
Five years have passed since the death of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh. The native peoples of the Midwest have been defeated, and the fertile soil of Illinois is up for grabs by a steady stream of opportunistic dreamers. The ones who get there first will shape this new America as it suits them-or so they intend.
When two young adventurers, Thomas Beard and Murray McConnel, find their way to Mascouten Bay in 1818, the land is full of promise. There, Beard envisions a town built on the bank of the Illinois River, a bustling place of commerce. With McConnel's gift for political strategy, the two manipulate the land, and the laws, to work in their favor. This new town-Beardstown-will be above all a place of civilization and culture. But the untapped wealth of the region attracts more than just families. Fierce young people are out to make their fortunes in any way they see fit, and the frontier promises them the freedom to do so. As the town's founders wrestle to manage the clash of virtue and liberty, they bear witness to a nation shaping itself, a nation whose powerful forward momentum might be impossible for them, or anyone else, to control.
Beardstown boldly tracks the sweep of the nineteenth century across middle America and features an incredible cast of characters, from farmers, philosophers, soldiers, and gamblers to calculating entrepreneurs, charming and brilliant madams, and even a young captain-turned-lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. Beardstown is the second book of the American Trilogy series, three novels that reframe the epic legacy of the fight for the American Midwest.