Undeterred, Sen. Mitchell wrote that, "Article XIII did not receive the three-fourths vote required from the states within the time limit to be ratified." (Although his language is imprecise, Sen. Mitchell seems to concede that although the Amendment had failed to satisfy the "time limit", the required three-quarters of the states did vote to ratify.)

Dodge replies: "Contrary to your assertion.., there was no time limit for amendment ratification in 1811. Any time limit is now established by Congress in the Resolves for proposed amendments."

In fact, ratification time limits didn't start until 1917, when Sect. 3 of the Eighteenth Amendment stated that, "This Article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified within seven years from the date of submission ... to the States by Congress." A similar time limit is now included on other proposed Amendments, but there was no specified time limit when the 13th Amendment was proposed in 1810 or ratified in 1819.

Sen. Mitchell remained determined to find some rationale, somewhere, that would defeat Dodge's persistence. Although Sen. Mitchell implicitly conceded that his "published by error" and "time limit" arguments were invalid, he continued to grope for reasons to dispute the ratification: "... regardless of whether the state of Virginia did ratify the proposed Thirteenth Amendment... on March 12, 1819, this approval would not have been sufficient to amend the Constitution.

In 1819, there were twenty-one states in the United States and any amendment would have required approval of sixteen states to amend the Constitution. According to your own research, Virginia would have only been the thirteenth state to approve the proposed amendment." Dodge replies: "Article V [amendment procedures] of the Constitution is silent on the question of whether or not the framers meant three-fourths of the states at the time the proposed amendment is submitted to the states for ratification, or three-fourths of the states that exist at some future point in time. Since only the existing states were involved in the debate and vote of Congress on the Resolve proposing an Amendment, it is reasonable that ratification be limited to those States that took an active part in the Amendment process."

Dodge demonstrated this rationale by pointing out that, "President Monroe had his Secretary of State... [ask the] governors of Virginia, South Carolina, and Connecticut, in January, 1818, as to the status of the amendment in their respective states. The four new states (Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, and Illinois) that were added to the union between 1810 and 1818 were not even considered."

From a modern perspective, it seems strange that not all states would be included in the ratification process. But bear in mind that this perspective is based on life in a stable nation that's added only five new states in this century -- about one every eighteen years. However, between 1803 and 1821 (when the 13th Amendment ratification drama unfolded), they added eight states -- almost one new state every two years. This rapid national growth undoubtedly fostered national attitudes different from our own. The government had to be filled with the euphoria of a growing Republic that expected to quickly add new states all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the Isthmus of Panama. The government would not willingly compromise or complicate that growth potential with procedural obstacles; to involve every new state in each on-going ratification could inadvertently slow the nation's growth.

For example, if a territory petitioned to join the Union while an Amendment was being considered, its access to statehood might depend on whether the territory expected to ratify or reject a proposed amendment. If the territory was expected to ratify the proposed Amendment government, officials who favored the Amendment might try to accelerate the territory's entry into the Union. On the other hand, those opposed to the Amendment might try to slow or even deny a particular territory's statehood. These complications could unnecessarily slow the entry of new states into the nation, or restrict the nation's ability to pass new Amendments. Neither possibility could appeal to politicians. Whatever the reason, the House of Representatives resolved to ask only Connecticut, South Carolina, and Virginia for their decision on ratifying the 13th Amendment -- they did not ask for the decisions of the four new states. Since the new states had Representatives in the House who did not protest when the resolve was passed, it's apparent that even the new states agreed that they should not be included in the ratification process.

In 1818, the President, the House of Representatives, the Secretary of State, the four "new" states, and the seventeen "old" states, all clearly believed that the support of just thirteen states was required to ratify the 13th Amendment. That being so, Virginia's vote to ratify was legally sufficient to ratify the "missing' Amendment in 1819 (and would still be so today).