It is the late 1940's. In Merriwether County, Georgia, John Wallace (Andy Griffith) is "King". He has almost total control of agriculture and the illegal whiskey trade. Wallace's rule is assured by intimidation, bribery and bloodshed. When Wallace decided to make an example of a farmhand who challenges his power by executing him, he secures his own downfall. By committing the crime in Coweta County, he has entered the territory of Sheriff Lamar Potts (Johnny Cash), a man of determination and unquestioned integrity who swears he will convict the arrogant Wallace. A true story of ruthless corruption.