Home / Dave Brockington / Breaking: Mississippi Ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment

Breaking: Mississippi Ratifies the Thirteenth Amendment


This bold step into the latter third of the 19th Century was declared official by the National Archivist on February 7.  Of this year.  As in, precisely two weeks ago:

On Feb. 7, Charles A. Barth, director of the Federal Register, wrote back that he had received the resolution: “With this action, the State of Mississippi has ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

The delay was apparently due to a clerical error, as the state legislature ratified the Amendment in 1995 yet the paperwork was not formally submitted to the United States Archivist.  But still, 1995?

In all fairness, my current state of residence, Oregon, didn’t get around to ratifying the Fifteenth Amendment until 1959, and waited until 1973 to ratify the Fourteenth. At least Oregon ratified the Thirteenth 130 to 148 years prior to Mississippi, depending on how one measures these things.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • rea

    What a coincidence that if they were gong to forget to turn in their paperwork, it would be for the 13th Amendment.

  • Dave

    I guess, once enough states have ratified for it to go into effect, it’s mostly just a waste of time… Unless you believe in political symbolism, of course…

  • c u n d gulag

    Maybe Mississippi was still on the old Julian Calendar?

    10 days can turn into 148 years real fast, if you’re not paying close attention.

    Hold on, people of Mississippi – health care is on it’s way!
    In 2157.

  • TT

    Fortuitous timing. By finally agreeing that slavery should be outlawed Mississippi has shown that Section 5 of the VRA is no longer needed.

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Of course Mississippi never got around to ratifying the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th amendments.

    Or acting like they’d want to, either.

    • dave brockington

      I’m not clear on how this aspect of ratification works, and the number of cases isn’t large, but it appears that once an Amendment is formally adopted, states that joined the union following adoption do not have the opportunity to ratify. In cases where the amendment is still pending in the several states, and additional states join the union during this process, the states that joined later (but prior to adoption) do have the opportunity to ratify post-adoption — e.g. the 27th, where four states ratified between adoption and 1995, including both Hawaii and Washington. However, neither Hawaii nor Washington has “ratified” any of the reconstruction amendments. Mississippi didn’t join the union until 1817, hence wouldn’t have had the opportunity to ratify Amendments 1 through 12. Of course the preceding paragraph can simply be wrong.

  • montag

    Of course, they didn’t do it until they had gotten the schoolyard-to-prison pipeline up and running.

    It’s now up to the private prison system to hire out all those young bucks to the 21st century’s version of plantation owners.

  • Joe

    Given Oregon is not exactly the South or anything, that 15A thing is pretty bad. A few states didn’t ratify the 13A back in 1865. After awhile, it is a bit silly.

    But, it should be noted that a concern wasn’t just slavery and involuntary servitude. @2 gives Congress power to deal with “badges and incidents of slavery” and this covered a lot of local racial legislation. For instance, a fair housing law.

    The possible reach of the 13A is actually fairly broad. Prof. Loomis, e.g., is probably aware of those in the New Deal Era that suggested union and workers’ rights was a 13A issue, in fact, arguing that it was a better basis for federal legislation than the Commerce Clause.

    • Benjamin

      Or as a better basis for abortion rights than privacy.

      • Joe

        Andrew Koppelman has a good article on that but the average person doesn’t quite see it that way. There is a reason why the movement uses privacy and equal protection with a shade of religious freedom (h/t Ronald Dworkin).

  • jon

    Mississippi, welcome to the Nineteenth Century! We’ve got some other treats for you, too, just as soon as you’re ready.

  • CJColucci

    I ask this question because I am frankly too lazy and busy to look it up myself. When less important or controversial amendments lock up enough ratifications to seal the deal, what do states that have not yet acted tend to do?

    • Greg

      At the very least, they don’t wait 17 years to dot the i’s on the paperwork.

      Fun Fact: Wisconsin didn’t ratify the 18th Amendment until after it had sealed the deal, but was the second to ratify the 21st.

It is main inner container footer text