John Green in the Age of Slavery
by Winston Perry, June 2020
John Green, who built the stone house at 23 Main Street, Nyack, lived in an age when slavery was legal and accepted in New York State. Born in 1772, he experienced New York’s gradual emancipation, and the final elimination of slavery in 1827 before he died in 1842.
Green’s actual home was in South Nyack. Census records for his household there show that he owned two slaves in 1810, but none in 1800 or 1820. Significantly, two free colored people lived in his household in 1840. Because of the nature of the census, and the fact that Green owned several properties, it is possible that this record is incomplete.
As of June, 2020, local historians have not been able to determine who, if anyone, actually lived in the house at 23 Main Street in its early years. Lacking the name of a head of household, we cannot check the census to determine whether any slaves lived there.
The Main Street house that we know of as the John Green House was built in 1819, during the years when slavery was still legal, so it is possible but unproved, that people in bondage may have worked on its construction, as they did on the Methodist-Episcopal Church building in Upper Nyack, now known as the Old Stone Meeting House, built in 1813.