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The Deep South state of Mississippi in February took the step of registering its approval of the 1865 measure that banned slavery in the United States, and officials said it happened only because a professor got curious after seeing the film Lincoln.
Mississippi was the last state to ratify the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution in a symbolic vote in 1995. In a bureaucratic bungle, the state failed to formally notify the Office of the Federal Register, the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, reported.
Thus, the ratification remained unofficial.
The oversight was discovered after Ranjan Batra, an associate professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre, went to see Lincoln in the cinema.
The Oscar-nominated film is about then-president Abraham Lincoln's drive to get the 13th Amendment passed by the House of Representatives in the closing months of the US Civil War when Union armies were overrunning the pro-slavery secessionists in the South.
The professor was curious about what happened to the amendment after it was passed in January 1865, the Clarion-Ledger reported. The South was defeated in April 1865, and 27 of the 36 states at the time ratified the amendment by December 1865, giving it the necessary three-fourths majority to be adopted.
Mississippi, one of the reconquered Confederate states, did not pass the amendment at the time, but the state legislature finally got around to it in 1995.
Batra and a colleague discovered that the state had not officially notified the federal government as required. They called the Mississippi secretary of state, who submitted the needed paperwork.
The state received notification on February 7 from the federal registrar that its unanimous vote passing the 13th Amendment was recorded - 147 years after it became the law of the land.- Sapa-dpa