June 21st, 2019 by Goshen Public Library Leave a reply »

Albert Hicks was handsome & charismatic &  had long been known in the dive bars & gin joints of the Five Points, the most dangerous neighborhood in maritime Manhattan.  For years he operated out of the public eye, rambling from crime to crime, working on the water in ships, sleeping in nickel-a-night flops,drinking in barrooms where rat-baiting & bear-baiting were great entertainments.  His criminal career reached its peak in 1860, when he was hired, under an alias, as a hand on an oyster sloop.  His plan was to rob the ship & flee, disappearing into the teeming streets of lower Manhattan, as he’d done numerous times before. `But the plan went awry; the voyage that was to enrich him instead led to his last desperate flight.

This story of Albert Hicks unfolded in the course of three bloody months in the summer before the Civil War.  There was a massacre, a flight, a manhunt & a trial, all of which kept the nation riveted, & remade Hicks , The Last Pirate of New York, into a celebrated antihero.

Richard Cohen tells the story of this notorious underworld figure: from his  humble origins to the wild, globe-crossing, bacchanalian crime spree that forged his ruthlessness & his reputation, to his ultimate incarnation as a demon who terrorized lower Manhattan, at a time when pirates anchored off 14th Street.


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