Shields Green

Shields Green was a fugitive slave from South Carolina whom Frederick Douglass befriended in Rochester. Douglass introduced Green to John Brown, who was planning his famous raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry.

“Shields Green was not one to shrink from hardships or dangers. He 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 easily believed in Brown, and promised to go with him whenever he should be ready to move.”[1]

Shields Green was captured at Harper’s Ferry alongside Brown. He was tried, found guilty, and executed on December 16, 1859. His body was taken by the Winchester Medical College and used for dissection practice by the medical students. The final whereabouts of Greens’ remains are unknown but a cenotaph to his memory stands in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Oberlin, Ohio.

Cenotaph GPS coordinates: 41.289078, -82.216195

[1] Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (Boston: De Wolfe & Fiske Co., 1892), 387.

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