Three University of Rochester political scientists have released a controversial study that says pre-war Southern counties that had a high concentration of slaves harbor more racial resentment than other counties that had a lower percentage of slaves.

The three authors — Avidit Acharya, Matthew Blackwell and Maya Sen — compared the counties listed in the 1860 census that had a substantial number of slaves with recent public opinion polls taken in those same counties.

They wrote in the introduction to their study:  “To explain our results, we offer a theory in which political and racial attitudes were shaped historically by the incentives of Southern whites to propagate racist institutions and norms in the areas like the ‘Black Belt’ that had high shares of recently emancipated slaves in the decades after 1865. We argue that these attitudes have, to some degree, been passed down locally from one generation to the next.”

Reporter James Goodman of Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle has written a lengthy article on the study and the reaction to it.