An editorial from The Athenian praises the use of enslaved labor at the original Athens Factory in 1830. The original Athens Factory, located at Whitehall in southern Clarke County, became known as the Georgia Factory after the mill that now houses UGA School of Social Work opened in 1833.

The Athens Factory also participated directly in slavery from the time of its founding until at least 1863.

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.

The Athens Factory was fully dependent on the institution slavery. The factory management owned and rented enslaved labor. The raw material for the fabric spun and woven by factory operatives was cotton planted, tended, and harvested by men, women, and children enslaved in Georgia. Also one of the Athens Factory’s principal products was “negro cloth,” a course cloth sold to local landowners for the purpose of clothing enslaved people. Scholars argue that this clothing rendering enslaved persons visible by clothing them in stigmatized fabric.

The Athens Factory produced and sold fabric that was intended to be used by enslavers to clothe their human property. This advertisement ran in the Southern Banner on October 23rd, 1840 (page 3).