The story of an Irish lad's immigration to New York State during the potato blight is a record of enterprise and endurance well rewarded. With his friend Barney, Pat goes in the 1840's to work on the Erie Canal and there the boys experience a cross section of the life that is young America. Combined with hard and often dangerous work, there are national and religious rivalries, the most flagrant of which is rich Mr. Pomeroy's advocation of America for the Americans. Pat and all the foreigners around him make a firm front then and prove that they are the true Americans. Later the rest of Pat's family arrives and they all start a new life in the town of Little Bend.