Based on the life of H. A. W. Tabor, a storekeeper invests in Colorado mines, becomes a silver millionaire and enters politics.
In 1876 Yates Martin (Edward G. Robinson) proposes they name the town Denver and is made mayor. He buys drinks for all and comes home drunk to his wife Sarah Martin (Aline MacMahon), who complains but suggests they open a store. Yates gives Rische and Hook provisions for one-third of what they find. Almost out of beans, Sarah wants to return to Kansas; but Yates is made county treasurer. Rische and Hook tell Yates they discovered silver. Yates buys a mine and is asked to run for Lt. Governor. Yates learns the mine is no good but makes a speech promising to donate half to the state. Yates shows off his new furniture and is elected. Yates learns that his new mine in Leadville struck a vein of silver.
Yates buys a mansion in Denver. He buys drinks for senators and offers to build an opera house. During its building he meets pretty Lily (Bebe Daniels) and helps her move. He puts up a nude picture, and they embrace. At the opening of the opera house Yates sits with General Grant. Yates donates land for a post office. Lily praises Yates, who fears scandal. Yates packs and tells Sarah he is moving to a hotel. Yates learns he won't get elected senator unless he goes back to his wife.
Yates gets divorced and is appointed to the U. S. Senate. President Arthur attends the wedding of Yates and Lily. They have a child, and he sends out golden books to impress high society. Congressman Bryan warns Yates that gold men will devalue silver, and President Cleveland does it. Yates finds out his stock went down, and he loses almost everything. Sarah offers to help Yates with money, but he says he still has a mine. Lily tells Yates they need $60 for rent. Yates sells some gold from a baby book for $31.50 and asks a senator for a loan. The senator promises Yates he will be appointed postmaster of Denver. Yates has not received a letter; he goes to the opera house and remembers the opening, collapsing on the stage. Yates dies, and Lily cries. Sarah also attends his funeral with a silver casket.
This melodrama portrays the gaining of a fortune as more luck than business skill. One wonders if it is worth it in order to have one's body buried in a silver casket. The philanthropy that contributed to the opera house and the post office are probably the lasting achievements.