Mississippi Finally Officially Ratifies Anti-Slavery Amendment

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nearly 150 years after slavery was abolished, the state of Mississippi has officially ratified the 13th Amendment.


Lawmakers thought they had taken care of the matter in 1995, when the legislature adopted the anti-slavery amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


It turned out, however, that state officials neglected to tell the U.S. Archivist, which meant the ratification was not official. Once that clerical error was discovered this past November, the wheels were put into motion to complete the ratification process.


Finally, as of this month, Mississippi officially became the last state to ratify the amendment.


Congress approved the 13th Amendment in January 1864. From there, it took nearly two years for three-fourths of the states (that existed at the time) to complete the ratification. Georgia had the distinction of putting the amendment over the top on December 6, 1865.


During the 19th century, Mississippi lawmakers rejected the amendment, as did legislators in Delaware, Kentucky and New Jersey. New Jersey eventually ratified the amendment in 1866, Delaware in 1901 and Kentucky in 1976.


After seeing the film Lincoln, Dr. Ratjan Batra, who was born in India and became a U.S. citizen in 2008, noticed an asterisk next to the name of Mississippi on USConstitution.net that explained about the oversight. He contacted Ben Sullivan of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who called the office of the Federal Register at the National Archives, who confirmed the non-filing, and then followed up by telephoning the office of Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who then sent a copy of the 1995 resolution to the Federal Register. On February 7, Mississippi ratification was officially recorded.


“We’re very deliberate in our state,” said Mississippi State Senator Hillman Frazier (D-Jackson), who had introduced the 1995 ratification legislation. “We finally got it right.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Historic Oversight Corrected: Film 'Lincoln' Inspires Look into Slavery Vote (by Jerry Mitchell, Jackson Clarion-Ledger)

Iowa Republican Platform Calls for “No-Activity Wednesdays” (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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