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Andrew Johnson, Requisition


Bouvier (1856) “The constitution of the United States, art. 4, s. 2, provides that fugitives from justice shall be delivered up to the authorities of the state from which they are fugitives, on the demand of the executive from such state. The demand made by the governor of one state on the governor of another for a fugitive is called a requisition.”


Requisitions for the return of fugitives were routine pieces of correspondence between Kentucky’s governors and those of other states. Usually, application was made to the governor of the state where the crime was committed to issue the requisition. This application came from the judge who presided over the case, and would include supporting documents like indictments, trial transcripts, judgments, and correspondence about where the fugitive was believed to be. If the governor agreed to issue the requisition, he would send a document like this one along with supporting documentation he believed relevant to the case.

1860s fugitives were widely travelled, but the war meant that the majority of CWGK requisitions to and from Kentucky were from states north of the Ohio River. As the United States army regained control over southern territory and as civil government in those states returned to operation, requests began to pour in from the South again.

In this instance, Tennessee governor and Vice President-elect Andrew Johnson requests the return of a mule thief to the custody of James Steele, who has been appointed Tennessee’s agent to handle the case. Agents often came from the ranks of city and county law enforcement (policemen and sheriff’s deputies) or a handful of professional bounty hunters.