Before Oscar Micheaux became celebrated as one of the earliest black filmmakers, he wrote a series of remarkable novels, the first one published in 1913 as The Conquest. Dedicated to Booker T. Washington, the black educator whose advocacy of assimilation was opposed by many of his race who were agitating for civil rights, The Conquest "is a true story of a negro who was discontented and [of] the circumstances that were the outcome of that discontent." The novel portrays the aspirations and struggles of a black homesteader named Oscar Devereaux. Born on a small farm near Cairo, Illinois, one of thirteen children, Devereaux leaves home to work in the Chicago stockyards and finally graduates to the job of porter in a Pullman railway car. He is personable, industrious, and frugal with a purpose. After saving $2,500, Devereaux goes to South Dakota and buys land. His object is not speculation for a quick profit but the cultivation of property he can call his own. He plows and sows and sweats, and by the age of twenty-five has reaped an estate worth $20,000. Success is sweet, self-respect sweeter. But if the calamities he is exposed to as a homesteader are severe, so are those brought on by marriage to the passive daughter of a dominating preacher.