Don Cheadle, (Hotel Rwanda, House of Lies) will star in The Prince of Darkness, an upcoming biopic of Jeremiah G Hamilton, who was called “Wall Street’s first black millionaire.” The screenplay will be written by Steven Baigelman, who worked with Cheadle on the Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.
Hamilton escaped Haiti in 1828. Less than a decade later, he was selling stocks to both white and black entrepreneurs on Wall Street. Hamilton broke laws and flouted customs. He married a white woman, bought a mansion in New Jersey and bought railroad stocks. By the time he died in 1875, Hamilton was worth about $2 million. If you account for inflation, that adds up to about $42 million today.
The film is based on Shane White’s 2015 biography Prince of Darkness.
“In the middle decades of the nineteenth century Jeremiah G. Hamilton was a well-known figure on Wall Street,” reads the Amazon description for the book.
“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.”
Cheadle, who directed, produced, and starred in the 2015 Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, appeared in the films Devil in a Blue Dress, Boogie Nights, Out of Sight, Traffic, the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Crash, Iron Man, and Captain America. He was nominated for four Emmys for his role on Showtime’s House of Lies. He was nominated for an Oscar for Hotel Rwanda.