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The Story of Jeremiah Hamilton – The First Black Wall Street Millionaire

Great tidbit of previously unknown or forgotten history here…

The Story of Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire

Jeremiah Hamilton made white clients do his bidding. He bought insurance policies on ships he purposely destroyed. And in 1875, he died the richest black American.

No one will ever erect a statue honoring Jeremiah G. Hamilton. As an African American broker in the mid-1800s, Hamilton was part of no one’s usable past: Wall Street in that time was completely white, and New York’s black leaders disdained him for his brashness. But his death, in 1875, attracted national attention, and scores of newspapers reported that Hamilton was the richest non-white man in the country and that his estate was worth about $2 million, or about $250 million today.

Hamilton worked in and around Wall Street for 40 years. Far from being some novice feeling his way around the economy’s periphery, he was a skilled and innovative financial manipulator. Unlike later black success stories such as that of Madam C. J. Walker—the early 20th-century manufacturer of beauty products, often assumed to be the first African-American millionaire—who would make their fortunes selling goods to black consumers, Hamilton cut a swath through the thoroughly white New York business world in the middle decades of the 19th century.

He may have been successful, but he was not well-liked. “The notorious colored capitalist long identified with commercial enterprises in this city,” one obituary spat, “is dead and buried.” Rumors of counterfeiting and scams against insurance companies dogged him until he died. Not that the ethics or business practices of many of his antebellum contemporaries could bear too much scrutiny, but Wall Street was never going to be a level playing field for a trailblazing African American. His forays soon earned him the nickname of “The Prince of Darkness.” Others, with even less affection, simply called him “Nigger Hamilton.”

Yet for all that, brokers and merchants generally were more interested in the color of the man’s money than his skin. Not that Hamilton gave a damn one way or the other. In general, he simply carried on amassing his fortune whenever an obstacle arose.

Born in 1807, either in the Caribbean or in Richmond, Virginia (his story of where he came from depended very much on whom he was talking to), Hamilton first made his mark on the historical record in 1828. In that year, the 20-year-old ran a cargo of counterfeit Haitian coin to Port-au-Prince for a consortium of New York merchants. When the Haitian authorities uncovered the criminal enterprise, Hamilton fled.

After news of the abortive expedition broke in New York, the newspapers condemned him. Most notably, the editor of Freedom’s Journal, the first African-American newspaper, cursed Hamilton for what he viewed as his disgraceful role in undermining the existence of the world’s first and only black republic. Under considerable pressure to name names, the African-American entrepreneur kept his silence and the identities of the New York merchants who had bankrolled the counterfeiting expedition were never revealed. Although still young, Hamilton apparently had learned the ways of Wall Street.
Five years later, he had shifted his focus permanently to New York, where he quickly acquired a reputation for over-insuring vessels and then arranging for them to be scuttled, which proved quite lucrative (for him, at least). Indeed, it was businessmen such as Hamilton who drove the nascent marine-insurance industry to organize itself. By 1835 all of the New York marine-insurance companies made no secret that they had collectively agreed never to insure any voyage involving Hamilton.

In the mid-1830s, the United States was in the throes of a real-estate boom, and Hamilton jumped headlong into the frenzy. He bought 47 lots of land in what is present-day Astoria. Even more impressively, he invested heavily in property in Poughkeepsie, buying several tracts of land in the town, an iconic local mansion, and a 400-foot-long wharf. In all, he gambled more than $10 million in today’s money that the boom would continue. Following the herd turned out to be the worst business decision of Hamilton’s life. He had bought at the top of the market, only weeks before what became known as the Panic of 1837. Hamilton dodged his creditors for several years, but, taking adroit advantage of new federal legislation, declared bankruptcy in 1842.

Although Hamilton had bought and sold some stocks in the 1830s, the second act of his New York business career, beginning after 1842, was defined by his Wall Street speculations. His bets did not always pay off, but they most definitely were distinguished by wile and creativity. For instance, in the mid-1840s, he dragged the Poughkeepsie Silk Company into court so that the struggling firm could be legally dissolved, leaving the cash realized from the sale to individual shareholders, including himself.

Perhaps more impressive to modern eyes, Hamilton, by the 1860s, if not earlier, ran what was termed a “pool,” which resembled a hedge fund. It worked like this: Investors pooled their money, depositing it for Hamilton to invest on their behalf. The benefit of such an arrangement was that the pool’s contents were used as an assurance that would let Hamilton borrow more money, so that a much larger sum was available to play the market. It was entirely up to Hamilton to decide which stocks were purchased, but the point of a pool, as with a hedge fund, was to take aggressive and therefore more hazardous positions in the market. In effect, Hamilton was risking other people’s savings in order to speculate.

What may be even more startling today was that white New Yorkers, eager to join Hamilton’s pool, were driven to giving him gifts to gain his favor. In the mid-1860s, Hamilton advised one to “send him a basket of champagne and a box of segars.” Furthermore, Hamilton made it absolutely clear that when it came to such offerings, “he did not want any but the very best.”

Consider the greater historical context of such a statement: In the middle of a war of almost unimaginable carnage over the existence of slavery, less than 12 months after the Draft Riots—New York’s own cataclysm, in which the mutilated bodies of African Americans were hanged from lampposts—an unapologetic wealthy black man let it be known that he was willing to receive cigars and champagne (mind you, only “the very best”) as acknowledgment of his benevolence. In order to gain privileged access to this African American’s wisdom about the market prospects of listed corporations—modern entities beyond most Americans’ understanding that were laying thousands of miles of railroad track and steaming huge iron vessels across oceans—some white New Yorkers were willing to grovel….Read the Rest Here, including Hamilton’s toe to toe battle with Cornelius Vanderbuilt

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Black History, Giant Negros

 

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2012 Election – Sno’ Ho’ vs. “Hair” Trump

You're Fired!

He has a hit TV show where he fires contestants…

She has a TV show where she fires at defenseless animals.

He made millions by cunning Real estate deals…

She made millions by conning conservatives.

He’s got hair…

She’s got hair.

The one thing he’s got she doesn’t,  is nobody in their right mind accuses “The Donald” of being stupid…

Whereas anyone with a mind, knows the Sno’ Ho’ is.

“Hair” Trump for President… Indeed.

Trump ‘really thinking’ about prez bid

Let’s get one thing straight: Donald Trump doesn’t want to run for president. Honestly, he doesn’t. Not interested.

But because the country is in such dire straits, he says, the business tycoon and perennial publicity hound just might have no choice. The country needs him.

“For the first time really would think about it. And I am thinking about it. It doesn’t mean I want to do it. I’d prefer not doing it. I’m having a lot of fun doing what I’m doing. It’s a great time to be buying things. I’m buying a lot of things and really having a good time,” Trump told Joy Behar Wednesday on HLN, CNN’s sister network.

“But I hate – you know, I’m very proud of this country. I’m very proud to be an American. And frankly, I hate what I’m seeing. I hate that friends of mine from Europe, from Asia, from all over the world – they’re telling me stories about this country,” the reality television host lamented.

Trump said President Obama particularly embarrassed America when he traveled to Copenhagen a year ago in a failed last-minute bid to secure the 2016 summer Olympics for Chicago.

“Our President flies over to see if he can get the bid. Now, he then comes back. We don’t end up not only in first place. We don’t end up in second place or third place. We were in fourth place,” said Trump.
 “Now, for the president of this great country to fly over there, he has to be given a wink. Like, come over, we’d love to have you. And you’re going to get it. I mean, do you know how bad we looked?”

Ultimately, it all comes down to respect for Trump:

“That shouldn’t be happening to this country. People are not respecting us. They are not respecting this country. And I hate to see it.”

Trump said earlier this year he will decide on a presidential run by June.

 

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2010 in You Know It's Bad When...

 

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Pays to Advertise…

This bachelor decided to forego the usual way of meeting women

And try his luck with a Billboard!

Tom Feltenstein wasn't afraid to put himself out there to find love -- he put himself on I-95. On a billboard. And it worked.

Ladies – for advice in landing that Sugardaddy – go here.

Guys – Tome met his new(est) wife not through advertising – but when walking his dog.

For millionaire Guys – He doesn’t list the name of his pre-nup Lawyer, and admits he was a “multimillionaire” before his last divorce. He now claims to only be a millionaire.

It is indeed, “Cheaper to Keep Her”.

Yeah I know this isn’t the popular version – but it’s nice anyway –

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2010 in Nawwwwww!

 

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