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The Life of Jacob Hodges, an African Negro, who Died in Canandaigua, N.Y., February, 1842. “Black Jacob,” A Monument of Grace.
The Life of Jacob Hodges, an African Negro, who Died in Canandaigua, N.Y., February, 1842. “Black Jacob,” A Monument of Grace.
The Life of Jacob Hodges, an African Negro, who Died in Canandaigua, N.Y., February, 1842. “Black Jacob,” A Monument of Grace.

The Life of Jacob Hodges, an African Negro, who Died in Canandaigua, N.Y., February, 1842. “Black Jacob,” A Monument of Grace.

Centered on the real account of New York’s first murder-for-hire legal case


A scarce biography recounting the true-life crime of Jacob “Jack” Hodges (1763?–1842), a free-born African American who was deceived by white conspirators in a plot to murder Richard Jennings in New York in 1819. (See Michael J. Worden’s The Murder of Richard Jennings: The True Story of New York’s First Murder for Hire.)

Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Hodges was shipped off at ten years of age on the schooner Lydia of Philadelphia to the West Indies. On board, he served as a waiting boy. Sea life abroad lead Hodges to pick up evil habits (“And who is more reckless and abandoned than a homeless, African sailor!”) and eventually he returned to America in sorry circumstances where he lived in New York City before moving to Orange County, New York.

Hodges was then manipulated into murdering an old man for his money, and pages 7-44 of this text chronicle his journey from murderer—his cohorts executed, his life spared—and onward through to his prison experience, rehabilitation, and reintegration into society, eventually becoming a devout Christian residing near Auburn, New York.

The crime gained notoriety and widespread attention, and his life story became an inspirational symbol of reform and faith after A.[nsel] D.[oanes] Eddy (1798–1875) published this biography in the year Hodges died.

The range of Eddy’s commentary on Hodges’s life is broad. It extends from expressing regret about the limited improvement in the social status of African Americans (p. iii) to observing that after Hodges’ release from prison, he distanced himself from his own race, not out of pride, but because their way of life didn’t align with his devout beliefs. (p51)


Description: The Life of Jacob Hodges, an African Negro, who Died in Canandaigua, N.Y., February, 1842. “Black Jacob,” A Monument of Grace.

Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, (1842). 12mo.  vi, [3]-94pp. Quarter cloth, marbled boards. Good.

[3733595]

Blockson Catalogue 2345. LCP, Afro-Americana 1842. Not in McDade, but see 965–966: “The murder at Sugar Loaf, New York, of Jennings, a mean and grasping old man of seventy, grew out of a bitter lawsuit over some property. Teed, Dunning, and David Conkling hired Jack Hodges to shoot Jennings; but he only wounded him and Dunning, taking the gun, beat in Jennings’ head. All four were convicted, but the legislature chose to commute the sentences of Hodges and Conkling and allowed Teed and Dunning to be hanged at Goshen, New York.”


Price: $450.00