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'Finally': State officially ends slavery

NEED TO KNOW
  • 'Lincoln' spurs two men to fix historic oversight
  • Proper paperwork was never submitted to ratify 13th Amendment in Mississippi
13th Amendment

It only took 148 years, but Mississippi finally ratified the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery.

Dr. Ranjan Batra, an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at the University of Mississippi, saw the Steven Spielberg film, “Lincoln,” which detailed the president’s fight to abolish slavery.

Batra wondered what happened when the states voted on ratification, so he went to the website, usconstitution.net. On the website, he learned the amendment received the three-fourths’ vote needed for ratification. The states that rejected the measure were Delaware, Kentucky, New Jersey and Mississippi.

Delaware, Kentucky and New Jersey eventually ratified the amendment, but Batra found there was an asterisk beside Mississippi with the footnote, “Mississippi ratified the amendment in 1995, but because the state never officially notified the U.S. Archivist, the ratification is not official.” 

Batra talked to his friend Ken Sullivan, who recalled state lawmakers voted to ratify the amendment when he was in high school. The conversation led Sullivan to do his own research.

Sullivan contacted the National Archives Office of the Federal Register and learned the state didn’t ratify the amendment. Sullivan found a copy of the resolution. It turns out the amendment was passed by the Mississippi House and Senate in 1995, but for some reason, the proper paperwork was never submitted to the Office of the Federal Register.

“It was unanimous,” Mississippi Sen. Hillman Frazier, the bill sponsor, told The Clarion Ledger. “Some didn’t vote, but we didn’t receive a ‘nay’ vote.”

Sullivan contacted Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who then filed the paperwork to the Office of the Federal Register. On Feb. 7, the director of the Federal Register replied that Mississippi had officially ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

“We finally got it right,” Frazier said to the newspaper.

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