I’m not usually one for easy Mississippi jokes, but this story is like dangling low-hanging fruit in my face and daring me to pick it. So it turns out, Mississippi had never officially ratified the 13th amendment, and it wasn’t until a professor at the University of Mississippi saw Lincoln that anyone decided to do anything about it. Now if we could just get Spielberg to make a movie about dental hygiene and vegetables, ha ch-cha cha cha.
Last November, Dr. Ranjan Batra, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, saw the Steven Spielberg film and wondered afterward what happened when the states voted on ratification.
After Congress voted for the 13th Amendment in January 1864, the measure went to the states for ratification.
On Dec. 6, 1865, the amendment received the three-fourths’ vote it needed when Georgia became the 27th state to ratify it. States that rejected the measure included Delaware, Kentucky, New Jersey and Mississippi.
In the months and years that followed, states continued to ratify the amendment, including those that had initially rejected it. New Jersey ratified the amendment in 1866, Delaware in 1901 and Kentucky in 1976.
But there was an asterisk beside Mississippi. A note read: “Mississippi ratified the amendment in 1995, but because the state never officially notified the US Archivist, the ratification is not official.” [Jackson ClarionLedger, via CinemaBlend]
You see? It wasn’t because they’re racist and 20 years behind Kentucky, it’s because they can’t read or write or mail. (Sorry, Mississippi, but you totally walked into that one).
To make a long story short, Dr. Batra told his friend Ken Sullivan the story, who found out that in 1995, democratic state senator Hillman Frazier had introduced a resolution to ratify the amendment, which passed both bodies of the state assembly without a single nay vote. But for some reason, the then secretary of state never sent it to the Office of the Federal Registrar (I like to think it was because he was a horse). Thanks to letters by Sullivan and Batra, the matter has since been corrected by the new Mississippi secretary of state, named, I shit-you-not, Delbert Hosemann. Anyway, congratulations, Mississippi, welcome to the twentieth century. And to think, all it took was a guy who’s not even from there watching a movie directed by a Jew from New Jersey.
[inset picture via the ClarionLedger]