(AllHipHop News) The “Ocean’s Twelve” star, 52, has bought the rights to Shane White’s book “Prince of Darkness: The Untold Story of Jeremiah G. Hamilton, Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire,” according to editors at The Hollywood Reporter.
White’s tome tells the story of Hamilton, a broker and land agent in New York City in the early 19th Century, who by the time of his death in 1875 had joined the ranks of America’s financial elite.
Cheadle will reportedly reteam with screenwriter Steven Baigelman on the project. Baigelman penned the actor turned filmmaker’s 2015 directorial debut, Miles Ahead, a biopic of jazz superstar Miles Davis, who Cheadle also portrayed in the film.
Although the star will reportedly produce and star, it is not yet known if he will take the reins as director.
Hamilton’s remarkable life was well reported at the time, but his story had faded into obscurity until White’s book.
The African-American financier’s wealth and ruthless business practices made him a controversial figure in pre-Civil War America, where slavery was still accepted in many states, as did his marriage to a white woman.
Despite his wealth Hamilton was a victim of the intense racism prevalent at the time, and narrowly escaped death when a lynch mob broke into his home during the riots that swept New York City in 1863 in response to men being drafted to fight in America’s Civil War.
His wife reportedly turned away the mob by telling them her husband was away and gifting them liquor and cigars.
Among his notable business ventures was his purchase of stocks in rail companies whose trains he wasn’t legally allowed to travel on, and a tussle with the famous industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt over control of the Nicaragua Transit Company.