After almost 150 years, Mississippi has become the last state to ratify the 13th Amendment, which put an end to slavery after the Civil War. The formal ratification of the amendment is a symbolic gesture at this point, but had gone without completion since 1995, when lawmakers believed they had passed it. As it turns out, the Office of the Federal Register never received the ratification, leaving Mississippi as the lone dissenting state.
University of Mississippi Medical Center professor Dr. Ranjan Batra discovered the oversight while researching the state’s position on the amendment. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that Batra, an Indian immigrant, was motivated to research the subject after watching Lincoln in theaters. Much of the film revolves around the president’s efforts to pass the amendment.
Along with fellow Mississippian Ken Sullivan, Batra contacted Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, whose office completed the final step to ratification on Feb. 7. Hosemann told the Clarion-Ledger that the process “was long overdue.”
Mississippi was one of four states to reject the amendment in the original voting, along with New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky. Kentucky was the second-to-last to ratify the 13th Amendment in 1976, during the country’s bicentennial year.