Mississippi and the abolition of slavery … in 2013

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. “

The 13e amendment abolishing slavery was passed by Congress in January 1964. To acquire its constitutional value, it had to be ratified by three-quarters of the states, which is the case when Georgia becomes 27e State (out of 36) to do so in December 1865.

Date of ratification, State by State

state Dated
1 Illinois Feb. 1, 1865
2 Rhode Island Feb. 2, 1865
3 Michigan Feb. 3, 1865
4 Maryland Feb. 3, 1865
5 New York Feb. 3, 1865
6 Pennsylvania Feb. 3, 1865
7 West Virginia Feb. 3, 1865
8 Missouri Feb. 6, 1865
9 Maine Feb. 7, 1865
10 Kansas Feb. 7, 1865
11 Massachusetts Feb. 7, 1865
12 Virginia Feb. 9, 1865
13 Ohio Feb. 10, 1865
14 Indiana Feb. 13, 1865
15 Nevada Feb. 16, 1865
16 Louisiana Feb. 17, 1865
17 Minnesota Feb. 23, 1865
18 Wisconsin Feb. 24, 1865
19 Vermont March 8, 1865
20 Tennessee April 7, 1865
21 Arkansas April 14, 1865
22 Connecticut Mayi 4, 1865
23 New Hampshire Jul 1, 1865
24 Caroline from the south Nov 13, 1865
25 Alabama Dec. 2, 1865
26 North Carolina Dec. 4, 1865
27 Georgia Dec. 6, 1865
28 Oregon Dec. 8, 1865
29 California Dec. 19, 1865
30 Florida Dec. 28, 1865
31 Iowa Jan 15, 1866
32 New Jersey Jan 23, 1866
33 Texas Feb. 18, 1870
34 Delaware Feb. 12, 1901
35 Kentucky March 18, 1976
36 Mississippi March 16, 1995 *

* unofficial ratification until 2013

Of course, the story does not end there

This is only the beginning of this deep split between the North and the South, crystallized around the famous Jim Crow laws. The chaos that will mark the families finally released, but broken down, as illustrated by the novel “Freeman” by Leonard Pitts. The long struggle for civil rights, embodied by Rosa Parks, and finally exposed by Freedom Summer and especially the murder of three white students from the North, immortalized by the film Mississippi Burning.

Rosa Parks

However, a number of federated states are still – still – slow to ratify this amendment.

American slaves in 1860
American slaves in 1860

Moreover, in Mississippi, there was still a form of serfdom until the 1960s – and whose existence would not be known until much later – where, despite the abolition of slavery a century earlier, a a number of African American families are kept in the dark and continue to be enslaved, beaten, terrorized and to work for free. More than a century later.

But in 1995, the latest, the state of Mississippi voted – well – for ratification.

The story could have ended there

In reality, because Mississippi has not officially notified the official federal records, the ratification has no legal value.

It will take a movie (Lincoln – focused on the political battle around the adoption of 13e amendment), two researchers who note this incongruity (Ranjan Batra and Ken Sullivan), and the confirmation of the reception by the federal register of the required documents so that finally, last February 7, it could be said that “The State of Mississippi ratified the 13e amendment to the Constitution of the United States ”.

Would the story end there?

As for slavery, yes.

As for mentalities, not so sure. Discrimination remains very high in Mississippi, whether its socio-economic or even racial foundations. Of course there is no longer any question of slavery. But degrading treatment, to which African-Americans are more often subjected than whites. The most glaring example is that of corporal punishment in schools.

They are licensed in a number of Bible Belt states, again today in 2013.

And this process, from which African-American students suffer more often as the testimonies show, confines minorities (economic and racial) in a logic of reproduction of violence. And draw, if we stick to the percentages, the contours of Dixieland. One example among many that history has not yet come to an end …

Elisabeth Vallet

Associate Professor in the Geography Department of UQAM and Director of Research at the Raoul-Dandurand Chair

Twitter @ geopolitics2020