Set in the mid-Atlantic states during the turbulent pre-Civil war years, The Wages of Fame traces the lives and choices of Hugh Stapleton's grandson George and his beautiful, willful wife Caroline. While engaged to George, Caroline had an affair with John Sladen, one of his closest friends. Before George could learn of the deception, Sladen left, only to become a powerful force in Louisiana politics. When George wins the election as New Jersey's senator, the three are united in Washington. As the Mexican war approaches, passions both old and new surface as ideals collide over the fate of the country.