Argument of Roger S. Baldwin, of New Haven, Before the Supreme Court of the United States, in the Case of the United States, App

About the Project

This is a first edition manuscript of Roger Sherman Baldwin’s 1841 arguments before the US Supreme Court in the trial “United States v. Schooner Amistad.” Baldwin, who represented the Africans in the lower court cases, joined John Quincy Adams in representing the Africans in front of the Supreme Court. Baldwin's principal legal goal during the trial was to win the freedom of the Africans, and the arguments he stressed were those he thought most likely to produce success. Often these were narrow, property-law based arguments rather than moralistic, broad-based attacks on slavery itself. Baldwin, however, did argue that the two Spanish men who forced the enslaved people onto The Amistad were the criminals, not the Africans who fought for their freedom, and that the men "deserve the penalty of death for piracy." Baldwin and John Quincy Adams both argued the Africans' cause, but it was Baldwin's arguments that the Court found convincing. Upon learning of the Court's 7 to 1 vote to recognize the status of the Africans as free persons, Baldwin expressed pleasure at "the glorious result of our cause." Help us transcribe this invaluable piece of history showing the highest court in America ruling against the institution of slavery.

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(3 out of 5)

Level 1 --- BEGINNER

Content: all typed
Language: English
Format: letters, diaries, flyers, pamphlets, and one-page documents
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: none required

Level 2

Content: mostly typed, handwritten in print, or otherwise very clearly written/readable
Language: English
Format: memorabilia, advertisements, image captions, telegrams, diaries, letters, notes
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: none required


Content: typed and handwritten materials in cursive or print
Language: English
Format: newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, letters/diaries/notes that may include annotations or margin notes
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: experience reading cursive writing may be useful

Level 4

Content: handwritten materials, primarily in cursive or somewhat difficult to read (predominantly from the 19th and 20th centuries) , audio recordings that are relatively easy to hear/decipher, and scientific materials
Language: English and/or other languages that use Roman script but may require the use of diacritics (French, Spanish, German, Italian, etc.)
Format: audio recordings, letters, diaries, notes and other written materials, projects with templated fields and special instructions
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: some knowledge of non-English Roman-character/script languages and diacritics may be useful, as well as experience reading cursive handwriting. A general knowledge or familiarity with scientific terminology.

Level 5 --- ADVANCED

Content: handwritten materials in cursive (from the 19th century or earlier) or in a non-Roman script language, audio recordings that are difficult to hear or are not in English, specialty materials/projects such as numismatics projects and the Project Phaedra notebooks 
Language: foreign languages that use non-Roman characters (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Greek/Cyrillic, Native American and Indigenous languages, etc.) and English 
Format: audio recordings, columned data/tables, manuscripts, letters, diaries, notes, currency sheets, coins
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: knowledge of a specific language and access to a keyboard with the characters in that language may be required for certain projects. Experience reading cursive handwriting and familiarity with 19th century (or prior) handwriting and conventions/abbreviations may be useful, as well as knowledge of scientific terminology, astrophysics data, or linguistics.

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