Henry Davis Green was an anti-slavery activist (abolitionist) who was a participant in the Christiana Resistance (also known as the Christiana Riot) of 1851, the largest and most violent antebellum response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Green, a teamster by occupation, was born in Salisbury Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1827. He was the son of Benjamin, a mulatto man, and Sarah Green, a white woman.
Green took part in the Christiana Resistance which occurred nearly a year after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850. With that act, federal marshals were given the authority to track down fugitive slaves and to arrest those who harbored or defended them. Green in turn joined other free blacks in southeastern Pennsylvania in creating the quasi-secret Organization for Mutual Protection, whose members vowed to prevent the capture and reenslavement of runaways as well as to protect those who operated the Underground Railroad in their area. They pledged that protection even at the risk of their own lives, after listening to speeches by Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison who lectured in nearby Lancaster.
Their resolve was tested on September 11, 1851, when Edward Gorsuch, a Maryland slaveholder, and deputy U.S. marshal Henry H. Kline led a six man Maryland posse which descended on William Parker’s house, in Christiana, Pennsylvania. Parker, himself a former slave, maintained his place as a “safe house,” a stop along the Underground Railroad. Gorsuch demanded that Parker turn over his “property” meaning runaway slaves from his plantation. Parker told him that he had no “property” and commanded he leave his door. As the men argued, a shot rang out, hitting Gorsuch in the chest, killing him almost immediately. When the posse looked around, they found themselves surrounded by armed members of the Organization for Mutual Protection as well as local white abolitionists. The posse quickly fled the scene.
The men were taken to Philadelphia and housed in the