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Published: Tuesday, 2/26/2013

Historic snafu

Last November, a Mississippi resident named Ranjan Batra saw the movie Lincoln. He became curious about when his state had voted to ratify the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which outlawed slavery.

After the professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center did some research, he was surprised to find that his state hadn’t approved the amendment until 1995 — more than a century after Congress did so. The delay was scandalous, but at least Mississippi’s legislature ratified the amendment without a single no vote.

After further digging, Mr. Batra discovered that the paperwork needed by the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register to certify Mississippi’s action had never been filed. The state was still listed as the only one that had not ratified the 13th Amendment. The reason for the oversight is unknown.

Once the glitch was discovered, Mississippi submitted the necessary paperwork at the end of January. The next week, the director of the Federal Register told the state that he had received the proper documents and that “Mississippi has ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

For a state with a tortured racial history, it was a long time coming. The reason remains a mystery, but better late than never.

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