The Athens Manufacturing Company participated directly in slavery from the time of its founding until at least 1863. The founders and investors in the company were enslavers themselves and many owned agricultural lands that were cultivated by enslaved laborers. The company itself also bought, sold, and rented enslaved people who likely lived on the factory grounds.
In June of 1836, “seven negroes”—Bob, Cuffee, and Charles, along with Ezekiel and Dinah and their two children—are listed alongside the other assets of the company, including “lands, water privileges, mills, factory buildings…smith tools, wagon and team and the stock of wool.” Many of these same individuals appear again in the company minutes in May 1843 and February 1844, when the stockholders resolved to sell Cuffee, Ezekiel, and Ezekiel’s family members, along with another person known only as “yellow boy,” in order to pay off company debt. During the Civil War in 1863, the company sold the last of their human property.