Historic snafu: Mississippi officially joins the anti-slave states

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Oversights are an unavoidable part of being human. But the snafu that caused the state of Mississippi to ratify only this month the nation's constitutional ban on slavery was an oversight on steroids.

In November, according to The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, a Mississippi resident named Ranjan Batra saw the Steven Spielberg film "Lincoln" and became curious about when his state voted to ratify the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

After the Indian-born professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center did some research, he was surprised to find that his adopted state hadn't voted to approve the amendment until 1995, more than a century after Congress. The delay was scandalous enough, but at least the vote sailed through the Mississippi Legislature without a single "nay."

After further digging, Mr. Batra discovered that despite the 1995 vote 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 Jan. 30. The next week, the director of the Federal Register told the state he had received the documents and, with that action, "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 in coming. Although the reason remains a mystery, better late than never.

opinion_editorials


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