Ben Gates(Nicolas Cage) and his father(Jon Voight) have lobbied to get their ancestor Thomas Gates, the man who was entrusted with the secret of the Templars treasure, honored as a historical hero. They believe that Gates was approached by two men who unbeknown to him were members of a group loyal to the confederacy, and one of the men, John Wilkes Booth, gives him his journal and shows him something they want him to decipher. Booth then leaves to assassinate Lincoln. Gates completes the deciphering and discovers that it's a clue to a great treasure but when Gates learns who they are, he rips out pages that had the clue and tried to burn them, he would then be shot. At the unveiling, a man named Wilkinson(Ed Harris) stands up claiming to have in his position one of the pages that Gates tried to burn and in it, is something that claims that Gates may have been involved with the plot to assassinate Lincoln. So now Thomas Gates is labeled a traitor. But Ben and his father don't believe it. So they acquire the page and discover what Gates was deciphering and sets out to prove that Gates is innocent. But Wilkinson is following him. Ben's trek takes him to France, England, and eventually back to Washington but they hit a road block. And to find the clue Ben is forced to kidnap the President.