The Conspirator (2010)
Edwin Stanton: Young man... always indebted to you for your courage in the field, but you must learn to tread lightly.
Frederick Aiken: Tread lightly? I will not tread lightly. You have predetermined her fate.
Edwin Stanton: Mary Surratt's fate rests entirely with the Commission. My concern is preserving our Union.
Frederick Aiken: Why did I fight for the Union if my rights aren't assured? You tell me.
Edwin Stanton: Fine words for rallying the troops, not for running a nation. They assassinated our president, and someone must be held accountable. The people want that.
Frederick Aiken: It's John Surratt you want. You don't even want Mary.
Edwin Stanton: I'll settle for either one.
Frederick Aiken: If John Surratt was part of this conspiracy, I pray that he receives every punishment known to man. But if his mother can be convicted on such insufficient evidence, I tell you, none of you are safe.
Frederick Aiken: Members of the commission, do not permit this injustice to Mary Surratt by sacrificing our sacred rights out of revenge. Too many of us have laid down our lives to preserve them.
Mary Surratt: So, have you handled cases like this before?
Frederick Aiken: There's never been a case like this before.
Frederick Aiken: Anna, your brother does not need too be saved now. Your mother does!
John Surratt: [to his mother] If this cause isn't worth fighting for, what is?
Mary Surratt: My husband died a drunk, Mr. Aiken, and left me loads of debt. I had to support my family, so I rented rooms to boarders. Those men were customers, nothing more.
Frederick Aiken: And you never considered their allegiances?
Mary Surratt: I didn't ask about their allegiances.
Frederick Aiken: What about yours, ma'am?
Mary Surratt: I'm a Southerner. I'm a Catholic and a devoted mother above all else. But I am no assassin.
Frederick Aiken: Your freedom is gonna require greater assurances than that.
Mary Surratt: Then you tell me what I should say to those generals.
Frederick Aiken: Oh, you can't say a thing. You're prohibited from testifying in your own defense. Perhaps your son could speak for you. Any idea where he's hiding?
Mary Surratt: No, I don't.
Frederick Aiken: All right. Is there anyone who will give your version of events?
Mary Surratt: You mean the truth?
Frederick Aiken: Well, obviously the government believes your version is not the truth.
Mary Surratt: Based on what?
Frederick Aiken: Their not releasing their list of witnesses or the evidence they'll use against you.
Mary Surratt: And can they do that?
Frederick Aiken: This kind of proceeding, they can do to you whatever they want.
Mary Surratt: Well, then what difference does that make? Those generals have made up their minds. I can tell by the way they look at me.
Frederick Aiken: The way they look at you?
Mary Surratt: Just the same way you're looking at me.
Frederick Aiken: I think she's as guilty as Booth. How can I possibly defend her?
Reverdy Johnson: You assume that she's guilty, like the Commission. You don't have any proof.
Frederick Aiken: Proof or no, don't give a damn what happens to her.
Reverdy Johnson: I tell you what. If you can prove that she's guilty, you can take yourself off the case.
Frederick Aiken: Thank you, sir.
Reverdy Johnson: You think it'll be that easy?
Frederick Aiken: I know it.
Joseph Holt: Inter arma, silent leges. "In times of war, the law falls silent."
Frederick Aiken: It shouldn't.
Mary Surratt: Have you ever believed in something far greater than yourself?
Frederick Aiken: You're my witness! Should I not expect you to tell me the truth?
Frederick Aiken: She built the nest that hatched this plot. President Johnson said it himself.
Reverdy Johnson: Well, I know this goes hard with you, Freddie, but... but what they're plannin', which is a military trial of civilians, is an atrocity.
Frederick Aiken: No, no. What she did is an atrocity.
Reverdy Johnson: There is no presumption of innocence, no burden of proof, no jury of your peers and no appeal.
Frederick Aiken: Alright, you were one of Lincoln's pallbearers too. How can you represent her?
Reverdy Johnson: She's entitled to a defense, Freddie, so I shall defend her.
Mary Surratt: So, what is it you wish to know?
Frederick Aiken: Why Booth and his associates were constants in your home.
Mary Surratt: I ran a boarding house, Mr Aiken. Forgive me if I chose to fill it with boarders.
Frederick Aiken: Ma'am, all I know about you is what I read in the papers. It's not flattering.
Frederick Aiken: [to courtroom] It seems that the only thing... that Mary Surratt might be guilty of is having given birth to her son John.
Frederick Aiken: [in closing summary, to courtroom] For the lawyer as well as the soldier, there is an equally imperative command. That duty is to shelter from injustice the innocent, to protect the weak from oppression, and when necessity demands, to rally to the defense of those being wronged.
Judge Wylie: You believe she's innocent?
Frederick Aiken: I don't know. But if we don't get a proper trial, we never will.
Edwin Stanton: Before you go Captain, tell me... when you first learned that our secretary of State has been butchered to within an inch of his life, and that they put a bullet in the back of our president's head, when this city was in chaos, do you not wish to see order restored and justice served, or were you just concerned with the rights of the assassins?
Frederick Aiken: It's not justice you're after. It's revenge.
Edwin Stanton: I would never go to such lengths out of vengeance, but to ensure the survival of this nation, I would do anything. Mary Surratt was a party to the most grievous crime in our history. Necessity demands that she be given a swift, sure and harsh sentence. I, too, hold sacred our rights, counselor, but they count not at all, if our nation ceases to exist.
Frederick Aiken: Please see to it that Mary Surratt is delivered to Judge Wylie's courtroom no later than noon... sir.
title card: [title card] A year after Mary Surratt's trial, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled citizens were entitled to a trial by jury, even in times of war.
Reverdy Johnson: Could somebody bring me the transcript of today's trial?
Edwin Stanton: Shall I read it aloud to you?
[brings transcript over]
Reverdy Johnson: Oh, Ed.
Edwin Stanton: Your young associate is putting up a spirited defense. Reminds me of a certain lawyer I had to face 25 years ago.
Reverdy Johnson: Ah, he learned to fight in your army. Can I get you a drink?
Edwin Stanton: No, no. No. I won't be staying long. Reverdy... You've done so much for this nation as any man I know.
Reverdy Johnson: Oh. Feeling's mutual, Ed.
Edwin Stanton: Don't you think it's time for us two old war horses to call a truce?
Reverdy Johnson: Not if you insist on staging this travesty.
Edwin Stanton: This trial will do more to keep the peace than any paper treaty could.
Reverdy Johnson: Heh. How'd you convince yourself of that?
Edwin Stanton: Because justice, swift and firm will help deter the South from ever conspiring again, as well as discouraging the North from seeking revenge.
Reverdy Johnson: What about the rule of law?
Edwin Stanton: My first responsibility is to ensure that this war stays won.
Reverdy Johnson: Oh, and this is how you do it, by keeping fear alive as long as you see fit?
[shows headlines and stories in a newspaper]
Reverdy Johnson: Look. "Stanton warns of future rebel plots", water supplies poisoned, firebombing cities, yellow fever spreading all over the place. This is a frightening country, Ed. And you don't need to scare us anymore.
Edwin Stanton: And who is to say that none of these things could happen? The unspeakable already has- Our president assassinated, 600,000 dead. The world has changed, Reverdy.
Reverdy Johnson: Abandoning the Constitution is not the answer.
Edwin Stanton: You may prefer dining alone. I just hope your young associate does as well. If he pushes too hard, he will make enemies who will not soon forget. On this, you know I'm right.
Frederick Aiken: Sarah. Sarah, where are you going?
Sarah Weston: Conduct unbecoming.
Frederick Aiken: I'm sorry about the party.
Sarah Weston: You think I care about the party?
Frederick Aiken: Please. Everything will be all right. I promise you.
Sarah Weston: You are just like that woman, ready to go to the gallows for the most pointless cause. People do get left behind when you do that.
Frederick Aiken: I can't ignore what's going on in that courtroom.
Sarah Weston: But you can ignore me, us?
Frederick Aiken: I didn't say that. Please, I have to do this.
Sarah Weston: Do you? I find your devotion to this frightening. I waited such a long time for you.
Frederick Aiken: I'm so sorry. I know. But I'm back now.
Sarah Weston: No, you're not.
Frederick Aiken: I am. I-ple -
[Sarah gets on the carriage]
Frederick Aiken: Sarah, please, will you just - We have to - we have to talk about this.
Sarah Weston: Fred, I love you. I - I wish I could do this. I just-I can't. I just can't.
Frederick Aiken: Wait. Let me see you at home at least.
[looks back for Edwin]
Frederick Aiken: Please wait.
Reverdy Johnson: Why, Ed, what a delightful surprise.
Edwin Stanton: Life's full of them, Reverdy.
Reverdy Johnson: This is our War Secretary, Mr. Edwin Stanton.
Frederick Aiken: Yeah it's a-it's a very great pleasure, sir.
Reverdy Johnson: Mr. Aiken had two horses shot from under him and never quit the field.
Edwin Stanton: [he and Frederick shake hands] Could use a loyal man like you over at the War Department, Captain.
Frederick Aiken: Sir.
Reverdy Johnson: Captain's back to bein' a lawyer. Time to heal the nation, Ed, not wage more war.
Edwin Stanton: Pleasure as always,senator. Captain.
Frederick Aiken: Sir.
Edwin Stanton: I'm sorry you won't be able to meet the president this evening.
Frederick Aiken: Will he not be attending?
Edwin Stanton: It seems Mrs. Lincoln prefers an evening in theater to a room full of soldiers.
Edwin Stanton: No. Damn it! No. No, she must be punished to the full extent. I want these people buried and forgotten.
Joseph Holt: The majority prefer a more merciful sentence, life in prison on account of her age, gender.
Edwin Stanton: I give Mr. Aiken credit. He knew just how to use the daughter.
Joseph Holt: It seems so.
Edwin Stanton: You made my sentiments known to the Commission?
Joseph Holt: Their minds are made.
Edwin Stanton: Then let us change them.
Reverdy Johnson: Freddie, she's not your mother. If John Surratt won't give himself up for her, then why should you?
Frederick Aiken: Two men standing at the Pearly Gates. The first man says, "How'd you die?" Second says, "I froze to death. How 'bout you?" And the, uh, second man says, "Well, I thought my... my wife was being unfaithful to me, so I ran all the way home. And burst into the bedroom. She just..."