Shields Green, colored, otherwise known as “Emperor,” was born a slave. After the death of his wife, he escaped on a sailing vessel from Charleston, South Carolina, leaving a little son in slavery. He eventually found his way to Rochester, New York, three years after his escape and after a sojourn in Canada. Here he became acquainted with Frederick Douglass, and though him with John Brown. And went on with Brown when Douglass turned back. Several reliable prisoners in the engine house testified to Shields Green’s cowardice during the fight. He endeavored to avoid arrest by palming himself off as one of the slaves impressed by Brown. O. P. Anderson, however, speaks of Green’s bravery, and declares that Green could have escaped with him, but that the form slave protested that he would go back “to de ole man,” even if there was no chance of escape. Owen Brown had a poor opinion of Green’s staunchness, after his experience in bringing him down from Chambersburg to the Kennedy Farm. Green’s age is said to have been twenty-three years. He was full-blooded negro.
Oswald Garrison Villard, John Brown, 1800-1859: A Biography Fifty Years After (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1910), 687.