Mississippi (Finally) Says Yea

Published:February 18, 2013 by Brendan Wolfe

Screenshot from "Lincoln," directed by Steven Spielberg (2012)

In 1865, the citizens of Mississippi rejected the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery. It didn’t matter because the amendment, in December 1865, was ratified by three-quarters of the states anyway. See Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln for the full story.

Here’s the thing about Mississippi, though. It finally got around to rubber-stamping the amendment 130 years later—in 1995. Problem was, the unanimously approved resolution was never send to the Office of the Federal Register, as required in the last paragraph of the resolution in order for it to become official. No one actually noticed this until an Indian-born professor of neurobiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center saw the Spielberg film and discovered the oversight. (There was actually an asterisk next to Mississippi on the website usconstitution.net.)

Steps were taken, and on February 7, 2013, or about 148 years after most everyone else, Mississippi has given its thumbs up to the end of slavery.

PS: We have an entry being prepared right now about the Thirteenth Amendment. Here’s what it says about Virginia’s ratification, which was speedy because its state government was then controlled by Unionists:

Many state legislatures were in session when Congress submitted the proposed amendment to the states, and several of them speedily adopted ratification resolutions. The assembly of the Restored Government of Virginia was one of them. On February 8, 1865, the six-member Senate, with one member absent, voted 5 to 0 to ratify the amendment. The following day, February 9, the thirteen-member House of Delegates voted 9 to 2 to ratify the amendment … Secretary of State William H. Seward officially counted Virginia’s ratification as the twelfth of the requisite twenty-seven state legislative ratifications required …

The only other states to reject the amendment—besides Mississippi—were Delaware, Kentucky, and New Jersey.

IMAGE: Screenshot from Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg (2012)