How Spielberg's 'Lincoln' Helped Mississippi Officially Abolish Slavery

How Spielberg's 'Lincoln' Helped Mississippi Officially Abolish Slavery

Feb 19, 2013

There are lists upon lists of bizarre state laws — some old and others brand new. Take Illinois, for example, which recently outlawed sex with a corpse. We had no idea the prairie state had an issue with necrophilia in 2013, but we won't judge. 

Mississippi is another state with a strange law that was recently discovered by University of Mississippi Associate Professor Ranjan Batra. The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlaws slavery thanks to Abraham Lincoln the man, but Lincoln the movie is responsible for calling the weird clerical error to Batra's attention. He saw Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated movie and checked into the state law where he found that Mississippi never officially ratified the amendment. Somewhere down the line, someone didn't notify the U.S. archivist of the vote to do so in 1995. Batra enlisted Ken Sullivan, also from the university, to help make the ratification official. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann contacted Director of the Federal Register Charles A. Barth to complete the ratification: "With this action, the State of Mississippi has ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States." 

Thanks to a little Spielberg magic and the super powers of Daniel Day-Lewis, Mississippi history was made. 


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