Nathanael Greene was born in Potowomut on July 27, 1742. He was the son of a respected minister in the Quaker society, and also a prosperous businessman. He was educated by Lindley Murray and Ezra Stiles; who was later president of the Yale College. Consequently, he knew some reading, writing and commerce math. In 1770, he moved to Coventry, Rhode Island to take care of his father's business. He served in the Rhode Island assembly from 1770 to 1772, and again in 1775. He was expelled from the Quaker meeting because of attending a military meeting in 1773.
On July 20, 1774, Greene married a beautiful woman named Catherine Littlefield.She came from Block Island and gave him six children. She was the niece of two future governors of Rhode Island and daughter of the deputy to the General Assembly.
In August of 1774, some men of East Greenwich County formed a Militia in which Greene took participation.
Nathanael was challenged by his group with some problems that he had when he was younger. Fortunately, one of his best friends, James Mitchell Varnum and his influence in the Militia, threatened to resign if Greene was forced to leave.
Nathanael Greene was given command as a Brigadier General of state troop during an army of observation by the Assembly of Rhode Island in April 1775. Greene led his troops to Boston were he showed a very good talent for assembling supplies and stopping fights between colonies. On June 22, 1775 he was commissioned as the youngest brigadier general in the Continental Army. He later took command of Prospect Hill during the siege of Boston. Due to the fact that he was asking for more supplies in Rhode Island, he missed the battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.