The Seekers (novel)

The Seekers (novel)

"The Seekers" is a historical novel written by John Jakes and originally published in 1975. It is book three in a series known as the Kent Family Chronicles or the American Bicentennial Series. The novel mixes fictional characters with actual historical events or people, to tell the story of the United States of America from 1794 to 1814.

Plot summary

The story begins in 1794, just prior to the Battle of Fallen Timbers, in the Northwest Territory. Abraham Kent, the son of Philip Kent and Anne Ware, had enlisted in the Legion of the United States to neutralize the threat of American Indians against expanding white settlements. He led a cavalry charge in the battle, but let a chance to kill Tecumseh slip away.

Philip Kent, his father, had grown affluent as the proprietor of the publishing firm, Kent and Son, in Boston and would have like Abraham to follow him into that business. But Abraham was not interested in that trade and was not sure what he wanted to do with his life. Politically, father and son did not see eye to eye. Philip supported the Federalists, a party more friendly to urban industrialists, but Abraham did not.

Abraham fell in love with Elizabeth Fletcher, his stepsister, the daughter of Judson Fletcher and Peggy McLean Kent. Philip had married Peggy after the death of his first wife, but he never adopted Elizabeth as his own daughter. Elizabeth resented him for this and did not want to live by his conservative rules. Sharing a common desire to leave Boston and Philip, Abraham and Elizabeth married and planned to start a new life in the Northwest Territory. They purchased a tract of land on the Great Miami River, near Fort Hamilton, though Abraham feared that his young wife was too frail to make the journey. Along the way Elizabeth revealed that she was pregnant, but she lost the baby when their riverboat crashed in the Ohio River.

Once reaching his tract of land, Abraham took advice once given to him by Thomas Jefferson and began farming corn. There, a son, Jared Adam, was born to Abraham and Elizabeth. Having lived there two years had not made Elizabeth any more content then she was when she was living under Philip’s roof in Boston. Not wanting to see her in such distress, Abraham decided to sell his farm and move to a more populated settlement. This news seemed to raise her spirits, but just before the move, two Shawnee men wandered onto Abraham’s farm looking for whiskey. In an attempt to expel them, Abraham killed one of the men, but the other one killed Elizabeth. Afterwards, Abraham, distraught, returned to his father’s house in Boston with Jared to learn that Philip had recently died.

Gilbert Kent, the son of Philip and his second wife Peggy McLean, took over operations at Kent and Son after his father’s passing. He gave Abraham, his half-brother, a job there, but that kind of work was not to Abraham’s liking. Gilbert tried to arrange for Abraham to participate in the Lewis and Clark expedition, but Abraham informed him that he could not participate because he had caught a disease from a prostitute. When Gilbert expelled him from his house, Abraham tried to take his son with him, but Gilbert’s wife, Harriet, would not allow it. Abraham pushed her down the stairs and she went into labor prematurely. After a violent scuffle, Abraham left without Jared, and Harriet gave birth to Amanda.

Jared Kent never saw his father after that. He was raised by Gilbert and Harriet, though Harriet did not like him and treated him cruelly. After the War of 1812 was declared, Jared enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served aboard the USS Constitution. He participates in the battle with HMS Guerriere that took place on August 19, 1812. During the battle Jared contributed to the maiming of Hamilton Stovell, a superior officer who had earlier demanded sex from Jared, but was denied.

Later that year Gilbert Kent had a seizure and died. Harriet quickly remarried. Her second husband, Andrew Piggott, appeared to be a suitable mate before they were married, but afterwards she found out differently. He was a compulsive gambler and would lose the entire Kent and Son publishing firm in a game of craps to Hamilton Stovell. In his rage upon hearing this news Jared set fire to the firm and shot an associate of Hamilton’s. Thinking the man he shot was dead, Jared fled the city with his young cousin, Amanda. Earlier that day, Harriet had been hit by a carriage and died, leaving Amanda an orphan.

Having no specific destination in mind they traveled to Pittsburgh. Once there, Jared made the decision to settle in New Orleans, but he was sidetracked along the way. While in Tennessee, near Nashville, Amanda was raped and abducted by William Blackthorn. Having been beaten by Blackthorn, Jared was required to rest a while at The Hermitage, the home of Andrew Jackson. Jackson made inquires to Blackthorn’s destination and discovered him to be going to St. Louis. Jared followed him there and shot him dead. With his dying breath Blackthorn told Jared he sold Amanda to fur traders going up the Missouri River.

Jared was jailed for ninety-days for disturbing the peace and while in jail he was visited by Elijah Weatherby. Weatherby, a fur trader, had witnessed Blackthorn’s murder and he was impressed by young Jared. He told Jared he was going to Indian Country to trade and that he needed a partner. Weatherby offered to aid Jared in his search for Amanda along the way. After much consideration, Jared accepts the offer. The story ends without Jared and Amanda being reunited, but the reader does learn that Amanda is alive and was sold by fur traders to an American Indian.

Historic figures Abraham Kent interacts with throughout the novel:

Anthony Wayne

William Henry Harrison

Meriwether Lewis

William Clark

Tecumseh

George Washington

Martha Washington

John Adams

Abigail Adams

Robert Morris

Thomas Jefferson

Historic figures Jared Kent interact with throughout the novel:

Henry Clay

Albert Gallatin

Isaac Hull

Charles Morris

James Richard Dacres

Ferdinand Rozier

Abraham Lincoln – Jared and Amanda stopped briefly on their journey from Boston at the log cabin on Knob’s Creek were Lincoln lived as a boy with his father, Thomas, his mother, Nancy, and his sister Sarah.

Rachel Jackson

Andrew Jackson

William Clark

Books and Chapters

Book One: Kent and Son

Chapter I: Battle Morning

Chapter II: The Charge

Chapter III: Clouds of Homecoming

Chapter IV: The Storm Breaks

Chapter V: “Scenes of Life Among the Mighty”

Chapter VI: Wedding Night

Chapter VII: Wagon Road

Chapter VIII: Ark to the Wilderness

Book Two: The Enemy Land

Chapter I: The Cabin

Chapter II: Old Ghosts and New Beginnings

Chapter III: The Burning

Chapter IV: Problems of a Modernist

Chapter V: The Mark

Chapter VI: Blood

Book Three: Voices of War

Chapter I: Jared

Chapter II: A Mackerel by Moonlight

Chapter III: The Frigate

Chapter IV: A Devil’s Companion

Chapter V: “Her Sides are Made of Iron!”

Chapter VI: Heritage

Book Four: Cards of Fate

Chapter I: Mr. Piggott

Chapter II: Act of Vengeance

Chapter III: Act of Murder

Chapter IV: Ordeal

Chapter V: Reverend Blackhorn

Chapter VI: Judge Jackson

Chapter VII: Pursuit to St. Louis

Chapter VIII: The Windigo

Chapter IX: “I Will Seek That Which Was Lost”

Epilogue: In the Tepee of the Dog Soldier


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