The state thought it had approved the amendment in 1995, but a clerical error left the ratification unresolved, learned Dr. Ranjan Batra of Ole Miss, who was inspired by the film ‘Lincoln.’ The state took action, and its support for the amendment became official this month.
BY ADAM EDELMAN / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PUBLISHED: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2013, 3:19 PM
UPDATED: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2013, 9:39 PM
The State Capitol of Mississippi in Jackson.
It’s about time!
The State of Mississippi officially ratified the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery … nearly 150 years after most of the states in the union did.
The gross delay, fixed earlier this month, was the result of a clerical error that left unrecorded what many state officials thought was its official ratification nearly 20 years ago.
The Mississippi Legislature had actually formally ratified the historic amendment in 1995, which even then was more than a century late, but because the ratification document was never presented to the U.S. archivist, it was never considered official.
According to The Clarion-Ledger, the bizarre error was discovered by a pair of patriotic Mississippians, who, after seeing the movie "Lincoln," looked up historical accounts of Mississippi's action and brought to the attention of state officials that they had never, in fact, ratified one of the most important documents in modern history.
The 13th Amendment, which outlawed all slavery and involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime, was passed by the U.S. Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House of Representatives on Jan. 31, 1865.
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Throughout 1865, 26 states ratified the critical law, and in December of that year, the amendment was formally adopted into U.S. law after Georgia’s approval brought the number the required 27.
Several states, including Kentucky and Delaware, waited decades to ratify the amendment, the last being Mississippi in 1995 -- or so the state thought.
The convoluted tale resumed last fall, when Dr. Ranjan Batra, a neurobiology professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, saw the movie “Lincoln,” which focuses on the passage of the 13th Amendment.
The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson. The 1995 ratification was not received by the U.S. archivist, which rendered it invalid.
After the moving film, Batra walked away from the theater wondering how and when his state ratified the law.
Batra learned that Mississippi’s ratification never became official.
He discussed the matter with a friend, Ken Sullivan, who called the National Archives Office of the Federal Register, which confirmed that Mississippi had indeed not yet ratified the law, the Ledger reported.
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Sullivan saw “Lincoln” the next weekend and left the theater feeling inspired to make sure his native state made its ratification official.
Sullivan contacted the office of Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who agreed to find the paperwork from the original 1995 resolution, which had been approved unanimously by the Mississippi Senate and House.
And so it came to be that on Jan. 30, Hosemann sent off a copy of the passed and adopted resolution to the Office of the Federal Register.
A week later, Federal Register Director Charles Barth confirmed he had received the paperwork, the Ledger reported.
“With this action, the State of Mississippi has ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” he wrote.
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