JEREMIAH G. HAMILTON; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 37
(Extensions of Remarks - February 28, 2019)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E229]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                          JEREMIAH G. HAMILTON


                          HON. JERROLD NADLER

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, February 28, 2019

  Mr. NADLER. Madam Speaker, as we celebrate Black History Month, I 
rise today to commemorate the life of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, the first 
black millionaire in the United States, whose story has been absent 
from the history books. I have the honor of representing the district 
in which Mr. Hamilton lived and worked.
  Born in the West Indies in 1807, Mr. Hamilton made his way to New 
York in 1828 and began amassing his fortune by selling stocks to both 
black and white entrepreneurs. He was touted as being astute in 
successfully predicting the markets and became a prominent financier 
and businessman on Wall Street in the pre-Civil War era.
  Mr. Hamilton defied many conventions of his time as he rose to the 
top of the business world. He owned stock of railroad companies on 
whose trains he was not legally allowed to ride. He married a white 
woman named Eliza Morris and had a close relationship with his friend 
Benjamin Day, who was the publisher of the Sun Newspaper. He took on 
titans of industry, including battling Cornelius Vanderbilt over 
control of the Accessory Transit Company until he got a settlement. In 
fact, in Vanderbilt's obituary it is stated, ``There was only one man 
who ever fought the Commodore to the end, and that was Jeremiah 
Hamilton . . . the Commodore respected him.''
  However, Mr. Hamilton faced the horrors of the rampant racism and 
violence against African-Americans in the mid-19th century. In the 
1830s, insurance companies blackballed him and refused to underwrite 
his business ventures. During the draft riots in 1863, white men 
unsuccessfully sought to lynch Mr. Hamilton in his own home.
  Jeremiah G. Hamilton died in 1875, leaving behind an estate of $2 
million, which would be around $45 million today.
  It is vital that the history of America reflects the lives of all 
Americans, and I am proud to help share some of the lost history from 
the 10th Congressional District.
  Madam Speaker, I ask all of my colleagues to join me in recognizing 
not only the life of Jeremiah G. Hamilton but the dedicated work of 
both the Committee to Commemorate Jeremiah G. Hamilton and historian 
Shane White to create a permanent place in history for the first 
African-American millionaire.
  The Committee to Commemorate Jeremiah G. Hamilton was established in 
February 2018 by community activists, including Dr. Sam D. Albert, Hon. 
Louise Dankberg, Hon. Alan J. Gerson, Gail Green, Barbara Guinan, Greg 
Lambert, Esq., Christine Merritt, Hon. Daisy Paez, Mark P. Thompson, 
Leona Zeplin and the Committee's Co-Chairs Dolores Leito and Hon. 
Michelle D. Winfield.