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Lorenz Graham

Shields Green was born a slave in South Carolina and spent most of his life there. As a young man he escaped and fled to the North with the help of the Underground Railroad. In Rochester, New York, Green found shelter in the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who has given a detailed description of Green and especially of Green's relationship to radical abolitionist John Brown. Green first met Brown at Douglass's home. Douglass wrote that Green, or “Emperor,” as he was sometimes called, was “a man of few words, and his speech was singularly broken; but his courage and self-respect made him quite a dignified character. John Brown saw at once what ‘stuff’ Green ‘was made of,’ and confided to him his plans and purposes.” Green believed in Brown and trusted him. He promised to go with Brown whenever Brown might call him.

Two months before ...


Zoe Trodd

fugitive slave, was hanged for his participation in John Brown's raid at Harpers Ferry. Nothing is known about his family or early life except that he was from Charleston, South Carolina, and was nicknamed “Emperor.” Green escaped from slavery, leaving behind a son, and reached Canada, but then returned to the United States and sought out Frederick Douglass. In 1859 Green met Brown at Douglass's Rochester, New York, home. According to Douglass, Brown saw “at once what ‘stuff’ Green ‘was made of’ and confided to him his plans and purposes” (Life and Times, 757). Green felt a kindred chemistry too. He was ready to follow Brown and accepted a position in Brown's provisional government for a nation without slavery.

On 19 August 1859 with his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry looming large on the horizon Brown summoned Douglass to a meeting that ...


Lois Kerschen

one of the two black men captured and executed following the raid on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. A fugitive slave of pure African descent from Charleston, South Carolina, Shields Green was also known as Emperor. Green was in his early twenties and illiterate when he was introduced to John Brown at the home of Frederick Douglass in Rochester, New York. Douglass described Green as a man of few words, perhaps because his “speech was singularly broken.” Nonetheless, Brown admired Green's character and later asked Douglass to bring Green with him to a secret meeting on 19 August 1859 in Chambersburg Pennsylvania The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the proposed raid on Harpers Ferry Douglass knew the raid was a doomed mission and refused to participate Green on the other hand had become an avid follower of Brown over the three weeks during which they ...