Who would have thought that, nearly 150 years after his death, Abraham Lincoln would still be helping to ratify the 13th Amendment?
But that’s pretty much what happened in Mississippi. A doctor who was inspired by the movie “Lincoln” has spurred the Magnolia State to become the final one to officially ratify the amendment that abolished slavery in the U.S., 148 years after the fact.
Here’s what happened: Dr. Ranjan Batra, an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, set the wheels in motion after viewing the Oscar-nominated film in November. Through some Internet research, he discovered the state had never formally ratified the 13th Amendment. Oh sure, it had voted to ratify it in 1995, but it wasn’t official since the state had never notified the U.S. Archivist.
Batra shared the discovery with his colleague, Ken Sullivan, who continued Batra’s work to right the wrong. Sullivan eventually managed to track down a copy of the 1995 resolution, which was passed by the state’s House and the Senate, and brought the embarrassing and glaring error to the attention of Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. At the end of January, Hosemann sent the Senate resolution to the Office of the Federal Register.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Hosemann said he is glad to see the chapter closed, adding, “It was long overdue.”
On Wednesday, he met with Sullivan and his family.
That same day, Sullivan introduced his daughters to state government, just as his father, Dale T. Sullivan, deputy director of the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, had done for him decades earlier.
To be a part of something historic, to see the 13th Amendment finally ratified pleases Sullivan. “Now it’s officially filed and recorded,” he said. “There’s no asterisk by Mississippi any more.”