- Currer – Semi-autonomous slave of Thomas Jefferson; mother of Clotel and Althesa. Currer is "Sally Hemings fictional counterpart." Instead of serving Jefferson directly, she works as a laundress, giving him her pay. She exchanges her income for a "pseudo-freedom" for her and her daughters, and gets them educated. She is purchased by Rev. Peck.
- Clotel – Daughter of Currer and Jefferson; sister to Althesa. At 16 years old, she is purchased by Horatio Green, with whom she has a daughter Mary. Later she is sold again, ending up in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She escapes from there with the slave William, while disguised and traveling as a white gentleman, Mr. Johnson.
- Althesa – Daughter of Currer and Jefferson; sister to Clotel. Purchased at 14 years old by James Crawford and resold to Dr. Morton. She passes as white so they can be married; they have two daughters, Jane and Ellen, and her life looks hopeful.
- Mary – Daughter of Clotel and Horatio Green. She becomes the lover of the slave George Green, jailed as an insurgent after Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831. She switches places with him in prison, allowing him to escape dressed as a woman. She is eventually sold to a French man who takes her to Europe. After his death, she encounters George by chance, and they marry.
- George Green – Slave in the service of Horatio Green; becomes Mary’s lover. After escaping prison with her help, he flees to the free states, evading recapture in Ohio with the help of a Quaker. He reaches Canada and migrates to Great Britain. Ten years after arriving in England, he travels to Dunkirk, France, where he re-encounters Mary, and they marry.
- Horatio Green – He is the first to buy Clotel after Jefferson’s death, and takes her as a concubine. He is Mary’s biological father. He sells Clotel and enslaves Mary after marrying a white woman.
- Georgiana Peck – Daughter of Reverend Peck.
- Reverend Peck – Father of Georgiana Peck. He buys Currer, assigning her to kitchen and household affairs.
- William – An enslaved mechanic who is hired out to work alongside Clotel in Vicksburg. While paying his master from his earnings, he saved $150 in secret. He and Clotel use this to support their bold escape.
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