Misrepresenting Mississippi

(January 4,, 2017) As I continue through the YouTube lectures posted by Columbia University’s history professor Eric Foner, I came to one about President Andrew Johnson’s attempt to implement “Presidential Reconstruction” in a futile effort to pre-empt “Congressional Reconstruction” that the Republicans would later adopt.

Johnson’s plan, which he hoped to have a fait accompli by December 1865, required that the Rebel states elect delegates to conventions to adopt constitutions and resolutions to: (1) ratify the 13th Amendment ending slavery, (2) repeal their secession ordinances, and (3) repudiate the Confederate debt. This was more than Lincoln had required in his December, 1863 “10% plan,” which was the only official plan that the martyred President ever announced.


Although Mississippi did not promptly ratify the amendment, Foner erroneously implies that the state failed to quickly abolish slavery and foot-dragged for 140 years by saying:

Mississippi refused to ratify the 13th Amendment. They thought about it a long, long, time. Eventually, the state…did ratify the 13th Amendment, but it did not happen until 1995. So it took them a long time to accept that: “Slavery is gone. I’m sorry.” [audience laughter.]

Professor Foner failed to mention that the Mississippi state constitution of August, 1865 outlawed slavery. It was adopted by a vote of 87-to-11.*

*Henry, The Story of Reconstruction, 79; Mississippi State Constitution: August 1865,

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