Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 1 > Issue 3

Amnesty Policy and Elite Persistence in the Postbellum South: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

Jason Poulos, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School, USA,
Suggested Citation
Jason Poulos (2021), "Amnesty Policy and Elite Persistence in the Postbellum South: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 1: No. 3, pp 353-375.

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021
© 2021 J. Poulos
Econometric models,  American political development,  Political economy,  Political history
Amnestycausal inferenceelitesreconstructionregression discontinuity


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In this article:
Historical Background 
Research Strategy 
Empirical Results 


This paper investigates the impact of Reconstruction-era amnesty policy on the officeholding and wealth of elites in the postbellum South. Amnesty policy restricted the political and economic rights of Southern elites for nearly three years during Reconstruction. I estimate the effect of being excluded from amnesty on elites' future wealth and officeholding using a regression discontinuity design that compares individuals just above and below a wealth threshold that determined exclusion from amnesty. Results on a sample of Reconstruction convention delegates show that exclusion from amnesty significantly decreased the likelihood of ex-post officeholding. I find no evidence that exclusion impacted later census wealth for Reconstruction delegates or a larger sample of ex-slaveholders. The results are in line with previous studies evidencing both changes to the identity of the political elite, and the continuity of economic mobility among the planter elite across the Civil War and Reconstruction.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 3 Special Issue - Slavery and Its Legacies: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.