How has slavery shaped the politics of the United States over the last century and a half since emancipation? Our book, Deep Roots (Acharya, Blackwell and Sen, 2018), tackled this question using a combination of quantitative, historical, and theoretical tools. Building on our earlier article published in The Journal of Politics (Acharya, Blackwell and Sen, 2016), our book shows a clear, persistent correlation between the proportion of enslaved people in a Southern county in 1860 and the political attitudes of whites living in those counties in the 20th and early 21st centuries, especially on issues related to race. The book employs various identification strategies and falsification tests to establish these relationships as plausibly causal. It presents evidence that these patterns cannot easily be explained by theories of racial threat or by antebellum attitudes on race, but, rather, that the political economy of the post-Civil War period generated incentives for whites of all social strata to adopt strongly anti-Black views, which have been passed down in local communities over time.
Acharya, Avidit, Matthew Blackwell, and Maya Sen. "Slavery, Politics, and Causality." August 24, 2023.