Jeremiah G. Hamilton, the so-called “Prince of Darkness,” was a powerful Wall Street broker and considered its first Black millionaire. Hamilton used questionable tactics to amass his considerable wealth and was reportedly despised by both Black and White businessmen.
Hamilton was born either in the Caribbean Islands or Richmond, Va. in 1807, eventually establishing himself in New York City. In 1828, a 20-year-old Hamilton was tasked by powerful New York merchants to ship counterfeit Haitian currency to Port-Au-Prince and the scam was discovered. The Black elite shunned Hamilton for disgracing Haiti and for not giving up the names of those who hired him.
But the event began Hamilton’s career and soon after he launched an insurance scheme where he insured fleets for more than they were worth and purposefully wrecked the vessels to collect the funds. Hamilton’s scheme was so lucrative that the marine industry banded against him in 1835 and vowed not to use his insurance company.
Little Known Black History Fact: Jeremiah G. Hamilton was originally published on blackamericaweb.com