At his court martial for conspiring to attack and annex Mexico with Aaron Burr, young Army officer Philip Nolan angrily blurts out that he wishes to never again hear of the United States. The tribunal, shocked by his outburst, sentences him to exile, permanently sailing the high seas on Navy ships, never to set foot on American soil again, with orders to all crew members that he is never to see or hear anything about his erstwhile homeland. As the decades pass, Nolan earns the friendship and respect of many crewmen, including proving himself an able warrior during one ferocious sea battle. He becomes a hungry scholar of languages and natural sciences gleaned from foreign books and comes to regret his views, causing his shipboard comrades to beseech Washington for leniency and forgiveness for the repentant man, now America's most ardent admirer.
One man was an island.