Prince of Darkness The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Streetís First Black Millionaire

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 10/13/2015
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press

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Winner of the 2015 Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Best Book Prize

In the middle decades of the nineteenth century Jeremiah G. Hamilton was a well-known figure on Wall Street. Cornelius Vanderbilt, America's first tycoon, came to respect, grudgingly, his one-time opponent. The day after Vanderbilt's death on January 4, 1877, an almost full-page obituary on the front of the National Republican acknowledged that, in the context of his Wall Street share transactions, "There was only one man who ever fought the Commodore to the end, and that was Jeremiah Hamilton."

What Vanderbilt's obituary failed to mention, perhaps as contemporaries already knew it well, was that Hamilton was African American. Hamilton, although his origins were lowly, possibly slave, was reportedly the richest colored man in the United States, possessing a fortune of $2 million, or in excess of two hundred and $50 million in today's currency.

In Prince of Darkness, a groundbreaking and vivid account, eminent historian Shane White reveals the larger than life story of a man who defied every convention of his time. He wheeled and dealed in the lily white business world, he married a white woman, he bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, he owned railroad stock on trains he was not legally allowed to ride, and generally set his white contemporaries teeth on edge when he wasn't just plain outsmarting them. An important contribution to American history, Hamilton's life offers a way into considering, from the unusual perspective of a black man, subjects that are usually seen as being quintessentially white, totally segregated from the African American past.

Author Biography

SHANE WHITE is the Challis Professor of History and an Australian Professorial Fellow in the History Department at the University of Sydney specializing in African-American history. He has authored or co-authored five books and collaborated in the construction of the website Digital Harlem. Each project has won at least one important prize for excellence from institutions as varied as the American Historical Association and the American Library Association. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Invisible Man

Chapter One

Haiti, 1828

Chapter Two

Moving to New York

Chapter Three

The Great Fire, 1835

Chapter Four


Chapter Five

Jim Crow New York

Chapter Six

Real Estate

Chapter Seven


Chapter Eight

Starting Over

Chapter Nine

The Trial

Chapter Ten

Wall Street

Chapter Eleven

Living with Jim Crow

Chapter Twelve

Making Money

Chapter Thirteen

To the Draft Riots

A Lion in Winter

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