To the Archives
Each of Sen. Mitchell's and Mr. Hartgrove's arguments against ratification
have been overcome or badly weakened. Still, some of the evidence supporting ratification
is inferential; some of the conclusions are only implied. But it's no wonder that there's
such an austere sprinkling of hard evidence surrounding this 13th Amendment: According to
The Gazette (5/10/91), the Library of Congress has 349,402 un-catalogued rare books and
13.9 million un-catalogued rare manuscripts. The evidence of ratification seems
tantalizingly close but remains buried in those masses of un-catalogued documents, waiting
to be found. It will take some luck and some volunteers to uncover the final proof.
We have an Amendment that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. But because we have been unable to find the eggshell from which it hatched in 1819, Sen. Mitchell and Mr. Hartgrove insist we can't ... quite ... absolutely prove it's a duck, and therefore, the government is under no obligation to concede it's a duck.
But if we can't prove it's a duck, they can't prove it's not. If the proof of ratification is not quite conclusive, the evidence against ratification is almost nonexistent, largely a function of the government's refusal to acknowledge the proof.
We are left in the peculiar position of boys facing bullies in the schoolyard. We show them proof that they should again include the "missing" 13th Amendment on the Constitution; they sneer and jeer and taunt us with cries of "make us".
Perhaps we shall.
The debate goes on. The mystery continues to unfold. The answer lies buried in the archives.
If you are close to a state archive or large library anywhere in the USA, please search for editions of the U.S. Constitution printed between 1819 and 1870. If you find more evidence of the "missing" 13th Amendment please contact David Dodge, POB 985, Taos, New Mexico, 87571.
1) It's worth noting that Rick Donaldson, another researcher, uncovered certified copies of the 1865 and 1867 editions of the Colorado Civil Codes which also contain the missing Amendment. Although these editions were stored in the Colorado state archive, their existence was previously un-catalogued and unknown to the Colorado archivists.
2) If there's insufficient evidence that Virginia did ratify in 1819 (there is no evidence that Virginia did not), this raises a fantastic possibility. Since there was no time limit specified when the Amendment was proposed, and since the government clearly believed only Virginia's vote remained to be counted in the ratification issue, the current state legislature of Virginia could theoretically vote to ratify the Amendment, send the necessary certificates to Washington, and thereby add the Amendment to the Constitution.
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