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Kentucky v. Dennison - Significance, Who Decides?, A Slave Girl And The Man Who Helped Her, On The Eve Of The Civil War

john governor petitioner decision


State of Kentucky


William Dennison, Governor of Ohio

Petitioner's Claim

That Governor Dennison should return to Kentucky the man, Willis Lago, who had allegedly helped a slave to escape and who had been indicted in Kentucky for what was a crime under the laws of that state.

Chief Lawyers for Petitioner

John W. Stevenson, Humphrey Marshall

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Ohio Attorney General Christopher P. Wolcott

Justices for the Court

John Archibald Campbell, John Catron, Nathan Clifford, Robert Cooper Grier, John McLean, Samuel Nelson, Roger Brooke Taney (writing for the Court), James Moore Wayne

Justices Dissenting



Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

14 March 1861


That although it was in fact Governor Dennison's duty to return a fugitive from justice to another state, as the executive authority of a state, he could not be coerced into doing so.

Related Cases

  • Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 41 U.S. 539 (1842).
  • Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857).
  • Puerto Rico v. Branstad, 483 U.S. 219 (1987).
Kilbourn v. Thompson - Significance, An Uncooperative Witness, Preserving The Separation Of Powers, Congressional Immunity, Samuel R. Lowery, African American Lawyer [next] [back] Kendall v. United States - Significance, A Carriage And A Pair Of Horses, The President Fails To Intervene, The Separation Of Powers

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about 10 years ago

Why can't a case's background and facts be related without tearing into the judge with a biased opinion of him. The decision could not have shocked both the Northerners and Southerners, considering that the decision was exactly what many Northern governors wanted: ex. William Seward governor of NY and Dennison of Ohio. both believed that runaway slaves should not have to be extradited from free states