Thomas Jefferson

What was his stance/personal background regarding indentured servants and/or slavery?

Thomas Jefferson was a consistent opponent of slavery. He believed slavery was a "moral depravity" and a "hideous blot". To him, slavery was contrary to the laws of nature, that everyone had a right to liberty.

How did this connect to his political beliefs?

During the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson was involved in a legislation he hoped would abolish slavery for good in the colonies. In 1778 he drafted a law that prohibited the importation of African slaves in Virginia. In 1784 he proposed an ordinance that would ban slavery in Northwest territories. Jefferson always maintained that the option to free slaves and completely abolish slavery would have to be part of a democratic process.

How did his writings/speeches influence or reflect what Isabel or other characters experienced in Chains?

In Thomas Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia", he states how he believes that blacks are inferior to whites and how although he doesn't support slavery, he still doesn't think of them as equals. Jefferson says he knows that slavery will be abolished eventually no matter what but instead of having the slaves free in America, he wanted to send them back to Africa. Like Jefferson, many other whites thought of themselves as superior to African Americans. In "Chains", Isabelle and her sister are supposed to be set free based on the will of her previous owner. But, the white men don't believe her and sell her anyway. All throughout the story, Isabelle is treated unequal and inferior to whites.