Better Late Than Never

Mississippi finally ratifies the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The circumstances for Dr. Ranjan Batra almost inadvertently inserting herself into Mississippi state history are accidental at best. After seeing Lincoln in theaters last November, he went home and did a little bit of Internet research only to discover the Mississippi never got around to actually ratifying the amendement. The state did vote to ratify the amendment back in 1995 , nearly 20 years after Kentucky, the second-to-last state to ratify the amendment, held its vote. However, through an apparent clerical error, Mississippi never officially notified the United States Archivist of the ratification, meaning that they’ve officially been on the side of slavery for a century-and-a-half. (That sounds kind of sensational when you put it like that, but heck, you’d think the state would double check on an issue as big as this.) Batra and his friend Ken Sullivan reported the mistake up the chain of command, and this month, Mississippi finally sent in the paperwork to complete its belated ratification of the Thirteen Amendment.

“On the side of slavery” is both flip and unfair — not to mention untrue. But I wonder which political party refused to vote for ratification for over 130 years? Care to wager?

8 comments to Better Late Than Never

  • Raoul Ortega

    Yep. We live in an age where symbolism is the highest virtue. As long as you look like you are doing good, and mouth the right platitudes, your actual actions are meaningless and you can get away with anything.

    Okay. I’d like to know if any states that have joined the union since the 13th was ratified have done so, and when. For that matter, did 30 odd states go and ratify the Bill of Rights after their admission? Or are those states for “cruel and unusual punishments”, for restricting speech and for quartering of troops in homes?

    (Actually, I thought that approval of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments was a precondition to readmission , or am I remembering my history lessons wrong?)

    And as you point out, the fact that some states didn’t ratify it can be directly tied to their being under the control of the party of slavery and secession and segregation so long that everyone forgot about it, and pretty much ignored hem anyhow. (The party that I saw recently described as a “gangster coalition masquerading as a political party.”)

  • Scott M.

    Just trying to make Southerners look stupid.

  • As I recall Johnson’s plan called for ratification of the 13th A. for readmission to the Union, but by the time many of the Southern states were readmitted the 13th had already been ratified.

    The Radical Republican plan for Reconstruction made the 14th and 15th Amendments required for readmission. Some argued in the South that the 13th was part of the U.S. Constitution they took an oath to defend and uphold as part of readmission. Each state should — and did — ratify the 13th as a matter of principle, but technically — read “legally” — Mississippi adopted the 13th Amendment when its leaders swore the oath in 1870 for readmission.

    All States post Reconstruction didn’t go back and retro ratify the document… they adopted it wholly when they voluntarily came under it via Statehood.

  • Scott M.

    Tennessee put the 19th Amendment over the top by one vote in the State House,50-49…a Republican changed his vote.

  • Texacalirose

    Does this mean Wesley Snipes can get out of prison early … or somethin’. :)

  • You know I’ve never looked at ratification dates in detail before…

    Very interesting stuff there…\

    All amendments will show up there… California specifically rejected the 15th and then ratiufied in 1962. New York not until 1970, etc. fascinating

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