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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


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).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882