Pros And Cons
Of course, there are two sides to this issue. David Dodge, the principal researcher, argues that this 13th Amendment was ratified in 1819 and then subverted from the Constitution near the end of the Civil War. U.S. Senator George Mitchell of Maine, and Mr. Dane Hartgrove (Acting Assistant Chief, Civil Reference Branch of the National Archives) have argued that the Amendment was never properly ratified and only published in error.
There is some agreement.
Both sides agree the Amendment was proposed by Congress in 1810. Both sides also agree that the proposed Amendment required the support of at least thirteen states to be ratified. Both sides agree that between 1810 and 1812 twelve states voted to support ratification. The pivotal issue is whether Virginia ratified or rejected the proposed Amendment. Dodge contends Virginia voted to support the Amendment in 1819, and so the Amendment was truly ratified and should still be a part of our Constitution. Senator Mitchell and Mr. Hartgrove disagree, arguing that Virginia did not ratify. Unfortunately, several decades of Virginia's legislative journals were misplaced or destroyed (possibly during the Civil War; possibly during the 1930's).
Consequently, neither side has found absolute proof that the Virginia legislature voted for (or against) ratification. A series of letters exchanged in 1991 between David Dodge, Sen. Mitchell, and Mr. Hartgrove illuminate the various points of disagreement. After Dodge's initial report of a "missing" Amendment in the 1825 Maine Civil Code, Sen. Mitchell explained that this edition was a one-time publishing error: "The Maine Legislature mistakenly printed the proposed Amendment in the Maine Constitution as having been adopted. As you know, this was a mistake, as it was not ratified." Further, "All editions of the Maine Constitution printed after 1820 [sic] exclude the proposed amendment; only the originals contain this error." Dodge dug deeper, found other editions (there are 30, to date) of state and territorial civil codes that contained the missing Amendment, and thereby demonstrated that the Maine publication was not a "one-time" publishing error.