Roger Sherman Baldwin
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Quotes for
Roger Sherman Baldwin (Character)
from Amistad (1997)

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Amistad (1997)
Baldwin: Captain Fitzerald, please explain to us your primary duties in Her Majesty's Navy.
Captain Fitzgerald: To patrol the Ivory Coast for slave ships.
Baldwin: Because?
Captain Fitzgerald: Because slavery is banned in British law, sir.
Baldwin: Yet the abduction of freemen from the British Protectorate of Sierra Leone and their illegal transportation to the New World, as described by Cinque, is not unheard of, is it?
Captain Fitzgerald: Not even unusual, regrettably.

Baldwin: Cinque describes the cold-blooded murder of a significant portion of the people on board the Tecora. Mr Holabird sees this as a paradox. Do you, sir?
Captain Fitzgerald: Often when slavers are intercepted, or believe they may be, they simply throw all their prisoners overboard and thereby rid themselves of the evidence of their crime.
Baldwin: Drown hundreds of people?
Captain Fitzgerald: Yes.
Holabird: It hardly seems a lucrative business to me, this slave trading. Going to all that trouble, rounding everybody up, only to throw them all overboard.
Captain Fitzgerald: No, it's very lucrative.
Baldwin: If only we could corroborate Cinque's story somehow with evidence of some kind.
Captain Fitzgerald: The inventory. If you look, there's a notation made on May tenth, correcting the number of slaves on board, reducing their number by fifty.
Baldwin: What does that mean?
Captain Fitzgerald: Well, if you look at it in conjunction with Cinque's testimony, I would say that it means this: the Tecora crew had greatly underestimated the amount of provisions required for their journey, and solved the problem by throwing fifty people overboard.

Baldwin: On the other hand, let's say they aren't slaves. If they aren't slaves, in which case they were illegally acquired, weren't they? Forget mutiny, forget piracy, forget murder and all the rest. Those are subsequent irrelevant occurrences. Ignore everything but the pre-eminent issue at hand. The wrongful transfer of stolen goods. Either way, we win.
Tappan: Sir, this war must be waged on the battlefield of righteousness.
Baldwin: The what?

Baldwin: [holds up a knife] Have you seen this before?
Joseph Cinque: [in Mende] I could kill you with my bare hands before you raise that sword.
Baldwin: This belongs to you? Does this? No, no. Umm, I need to know where you're from.

Amistad Slave #1: [in Mende] He reminds me of that Fula of Baoma, you know the one who hires himself to scrape elephant dung from the crop rows.
Amistad Slave #2: [in Mende] A dung-scraper might be just the kind of man we need right now.
Baldwin: [point to a map] Here, Africa? Is this where you're from? A-fri-ca?

Baldwin: [to the court] My clients' journey did not begin in Havana, as they claim and keep claiming more and more emphatically. No, my clients' journey began much, much further away.

Baldwin: [to Cinque] Cinque, I need you to tell me how you got here.

Baldwin: Our president, our big, big man has appealed the decision to our Supreme Court.
Ens. Covey: [translating for Cinque to John Quincy Adams] What does that mean?
Baldwin: We have to try the case again.

Baldwin: [to Cinque] I said this before the judge, this is almost how it works here, almost.

Baldwin: [writing a letter to John Quincy Adams] To His Excellency John Quincy Adams, Massachusetts member, House of Representatives. I have understood from Mr. Joadson that you are acquainted with the plight of the Amistad Africans. If that is true, then you are aware that we have been at every step successful in our presentation of their case. Yet despite this and despite the unlikelihood of President Van Buren's re-election, he has appealed our most recent favorable decision to the highest court in the land. As I'm sure you are well aware, seven of nine of these Supreme Court justices are themselves Southern slave owners. Sir, we need you. If ever there was a time for a man to cast aside his daily trappings and array himself for battle, that time has come. Cicero once said, appealing to Claudius in defense of the Republic, that the whole result of this entire war depends on the life of one most brave and excellent man. In our time, in this instance, I believe it depends on two. A courageous man at present in irons in New Haven, named Cinque... and you sir. Sincerely Robert S. Baldwin, attorney-at-law.

Baldwin: Ah, Mr. Tappan. How do you do, sir? My name is Roger S Baldwin, attorney-at-law.
Tappan: Real estate?
Baldwin: Real estate, inventories and other assets.
Tappan: Can I help you with something?
Baldwin: What is it that you do?
Tappan: Well, I own various business... and banks.
Baldwin: As a matter of fact, you probably could help me, Mr. Tappan. But that's not why I'm here. I'd like to help you.
Tappan: Me?
Baldwin: Yes. I deal with property. Sometimes I get people's property back, other times I get it taken away, as in this case. Every one of the claims speaks to the issue of ownership.
Tappan: Thank you, Mr... Mr. Baldwin.
Baldwin: Baldwin, Roger S, attorney-at-law.
Tappan: But I'm afraid what's needed here is a criminal attorney. A trial lawyer. But thanks for your interest.
Baldwin: Yes. Well... intending no disrespect, Mr. Tappan, but if that were the way to go, well, then... Well, I wouldn't have bothered coming down here. Goodbye. I bid you gentlemen a good afternoon.

Baldwin: Ignore everything but the pre-eminent issue at hand. The wrongful transfer of stolen goods. Either way, we win.
Tappan: Sir, this war must be waged on the battlefield of righteousness.
Baldwin: The what?
Tappan: It would be against everything I stand for to let this deteriorate into an exercise in legal minutia.
Baldwin: Mr. Tappan, I'm talking about the heart of the matter.
Tappan: As am I. It is our destiny, as abolitionists and as Christians, to save these people. These are people, Mr. Baldwin, not livestock. Did Christ hire a lawyer to get him off on technicalities? He went to the cross, nobly. You know why? To make a statement. To make a statement, as must we.
Baldwin: But Christ lost. - You, I think...
Tappan: No, sir, he did not!
Baldwin: You want to win, don't you?
Tappan: Yes.
Baldwin: I certainly do. Hell, sometimes I don't get paid unless I do. Which brings us back to the question of worth. In order to do a better job than the Son of God's attorney I'll require two and a half dollars a day.