Biographical Database of Black Woman Suffragists

Biography of Mary Ann Green, 1810-1897


By James Elton Johnson, historian and education consultant

As the mother and comrade-in-arms of evangelist Henrietta Crawford (southern New Jersey's leading Black female activist of the 19th century), Mary Ann Green nurtured and gave quiet fiber to the rising tide of women's suffrage in the post-Civil War decades. Mostly obscure to the pages of history, Green's contributions were nonetheless those of a steady, reliable foot-soldier in the women's suffrage movement and the long Black struggle for civil rights.

In the quest for women's suffrage, Green's participation was important enough that she is mentioned as one of four African Americans anonymously recorded as voters in the historic women's mock election held in Vineland, NJ in November 1868. That symbolic action helped refocus national attention and brought increased support for a burgeoning post-war women's suffrage movement.

The Vermont newspaper Rutland Independent reported that the Vineland women were "opposed to the existing aristocracy of sex" and that they wanted "to establish a republican form of government in New Jersey based on the consent of the governed." Relatedly, suffrage supporters "at Providence" and "in Concord, N.H." were inspired by the collective energy of 172 Vineland activists including suffragist Mary Ann Green. The reinvigorated national commitment for achieving women's suffrage coincided with wide-spread agitation for passage of the 15th Amendment which extended voting rights to Black men in 1870 -only to have those rights of citizenship violently crushed, in the southern states primarily, starting near the end of Reconstruction in 1876.

Mary Ann Green's life-journey to being matriarch of one of Vineland's most influential African American families in the post-war Vineland, began in Havre de Grace, Maryland around 1810. Other than birth location and being the daughter of Jacob and Dianna Stevens, nothing more surfaces explicitly in the historical record regarding her family's background along the Chesapeake Bay. In 1820, however, a free Black farmer named Jacob Stevens, presumably Mary Ann Green's father, reported on the federal census for Harford County, MD a sizable household, which included an adult female and three boys and three girls all younger than 14-years old.

By 1840, 30-year old Mary Ann was living in Mannington, New Jersey, a heavily Black enclave 1 mile north of Salem City in Salem County. There, she would have encountered radical influences such as Amy Reckless, a middle-age African American stalwart on the Underground Railroad and her co-activists, abolitionist Quaker sisters, Abigail and Elizabeth Goodwin. Also, Mannington's numerous African American churches provided culturally rich spiritual sustenance, especially within the Black Methodist tradition which Mary Ann and George raised their family. It was in Mannington, too, where Green gave birth to her second child Henrietta, the future progressive evangelist.

Moving later to Clarksboro in Gloucester county, NJ, the couple had at least five more children before George died in the late 1850s. Mary Ann never remarried and sometime between 1865 and 1870, she relocated to Vineland, following her daughters Selomith and Henrietta, who were already residents there by summer 1865. The awesome gift of this footsoldier was her progressive maternalism that propelled Henrietta Crawford's radical wings of activism. After helping sustain her daughter's historic campaigns in southern New Jersey for Black civil rights and women's suffrage for three decades the aging matriarch died suddenly from heart failure while relaxing on her front porch on June 11, 1896.


James Elton Johnson, "Henrietta Crawford: Radical Black Evangelist In Post-Civil War New Jersey," New Jersey Studies-An Interdisciplinary Journal, 7:1 (2021), 71-106. Accessible online at

Rutland Independent (Rutland, Vermont), 1868 December 12, p.2.

1850 Federal census,

1865 New Jersey State Census,

Evening Journal (Vineland, NJ), 11 June 1897, p. 3.

William Still, The Underground Railroad (Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, 2005) Orig. pub. 1872, pg. 443-46.

Ann D. Gordon, ed., The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Vol. 2: Against an Aristocracy of Sex, 1866-1873 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1997), appendix C, pp. 646-47.


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