Former Slave Who Trained Jack Daniels Finally Gets Recognition

Nathan “Nearest” Green, a slave, who taught Jack Daniel the craft of whiskey distilling is getting his just due.

A photo of Jack Daniel and the son of Nearest Green

It’s not a secret that many ideas, inventions and crafts initiated by slaves were — at best — borrowed or — at worst — outright stolen by their owners throughout history.

The vital contribution of a former slave on Jack Daniel’s vast history is being placed into the spotlight as Tennessee’s whiskey industry soars.

The story of Nathan “Nearest” Green, a slave from Lynchburg, TN who taught Jack Daniel the craft of whiskey distilling,  piqued the interest of New York Times best-selling author Fawn Weaver , after an article about Green in the New York Times went viral last year.

After countless hours of research on the topic, Weaver has announced the launch of the Nearest Green Foundation. The organization is dedicated to honoring Green’s contributions to the Tennessee whiskey industry.

“The idea that there were positive stories out there of whites’ and blacks’ working side by side, through and beyond the Civil War, resonated with me,” Weaver said in a statement. “I liked the story of Jack Daniel, but Nearest Green’s story and the community at large really stayed with me.”

Among future projects for the foundation are a museum in Lynchburg dedicated to the history of Tennessee’s whiskey industry, the Nearest Green Memorial Park in Lynchburg, a scholarship fund benefiting direct descendants of Green’s and a book to be completed this year.

nearestA group Weaver helped assemble is releasing a Tennessee whiskey this month called Uncle Nearest 1856.

Weaver and her husband have purchased a 313-acre farm once owned by Dan Call, where Green, a slave of Call’s, taught Jack Daniel, a neighbor, how to make whiskey. The location is also the original home to Jack Daniel’s distillery. A two-room cabin where Green resided during the Civil War and a Greek revival home where Daniel and Call once lived are being rebuilt as well.

A long overdue tribute of recognition to a man whose knowledge spawned one of the largest and most successful businesses in the world is finally in place. Just makes you wonder how many other great, yet hijacked, achievements are being benefited from by the descendants of said hijackers.

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