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I must protest. To offer the Klingons a safe haven within Federation space is suicide. Klingons would become the alien trash of the galaxy. And if we dismantle the fleet, we'd be defenceless before an aggressive species with a foothold on our territory. The opportunity here is to bring them to their knees. Then we'll be in a far better position to dictate terms.
~ Cartwright's rant on peace with the Klingons.

Admiral Cartwright is a supporting protagonist in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and a supporting antagonist of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. As an Admiral he served as Commander-In-Chief, Starfleet Command. In addition he was the Starfleet liaison to the Diplomatic Corps.

He was portrayed by the late Brock Peters, who was best known for playing Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird as well as Benjamin Sisko's father Joseph Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Biography

In the 2260s Cartwright was a Starfleet Captain, and commanded the USS Ark Royal. One of the ship's missions involved rescuing a colony under attack by Klingon renegades. During the course of the rescue mission he met a young Vulcan girl named Valeris along with her parents.

By 2268 Cartwright was a Rear Admiral working with Section 31. He ordered Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock to retrieve a Romulan cloaking device. Even back then Kirk was suspicious of the Admiral having a secret agenda.

During the early 2280s he became aware of how Valeris - now a cadet at Starfleet Academy - had written a controversial paper on how peace with the Klingons was not something that should be desired on the part of the Federation. Summoning her to his office at headquarters he convinced her to delete the paper before it became known to academy staff and wrecked her career before it could even begin. Cartwright also told Valeris that there were others in the Federation that felt that she did about the Klingons. In the years to come Valeris would become one of Cartwright's chief agents, undertaking clandestine missions where a Starfleet Admiral would attract too much attention.

In 2286 Cartwright led Starfleet's response when an alien probe looking for humpback whales began causing severe climatic disruption on Earth and was at headquarters when Admiral Kirk made contact. Kirk informed them that the probe's transmissions were those sung by the extinct humpback whales, and that he and his crew were going back in time to retrieve such whales. When Kirk was successful in his mission and the whales he brought back convinced the probe to leave, Cartwright saw Kirk and his people clinging to the crashed Bird of Prey in San Francisio bay and left to find a working shuttlecraft so he could retrieve them. In the days that followed Cartwright attended the trial and judiciary council sessions convened to address the violations of the law Kirk and his crew committed in rescuing Captain Spock. The proceedings resulted in Kirk being busted back to Captain, but given command of a new USS Enterprise by a grateful Federation for saving Earth.

Three years later Cartwright ordered the Enterprise to observe a weapons test being conducted by the USS Pacific. Kirk objected to the weapon since it used protomatter, but Cartwright assured Captain Kirk that the protomatter used in the weapon was more stable than that Kirk's son David used in the Genesis Device. Cartwright hoped that the test would be successful and future protomatter weapons could be used to destroy the Klingon Empire.

The following year, after Sulu had clandestinely informed Sarek of a potential threat to the Korvat conference that was to be held between the Klingons and the Federation, Sarek asked Starfleet to have the Excelsior take him to and provide security for the conference. Cartwright contacted Excelsior and ordered Captain Styles to rendezvous with Sarek's shuttle and escort him to Korvat Colony for the conference.

After the destruction of Praxis in 2293, the Klingon Empire sued for peace. Cartwright was a vocal opponent of the peace process, wanting to attack the Klingons, defeat them, and dictate terms. However Starfleet and the Federation Council did not accept his recommendations and supported the peace process, with the C-in-C assigning Captain Kirk to take the Enterprise out and escort the Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth for peace talks.

Cartwright then got in touch with other members of Starfleet who felt as he did - including Valeris - along with people in the Klingon and Romulan Empires opposed to hostilities ending. Because Kirk had voiced support for some of Cartwright's positions, Cartwright and his co-conspirators used Kirk as a scapegoat when they assassinated Gorkon. They framed Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy for killing Gorkon, and planned to assassinate the Federation President - an act they intended to blame on the Klingon Empire. Ironically, Kirk's battle prowess had the conspirators ask the Federation President for permission to stage a rescue mission, reasoning they would need Kirk once the war began. But the President rejected this as well. Also the Klingon judge in charge of the show trial decided not to sentence Kirk or McCoy to death, but to sentence them to life on Rura Penthe.

However Kirk and McCoy were able to escape from Rura Penthe and were then rescued by Spock and the Enterprise. With help from Captain Sulu of the USS Excelsior, the crew of the Enterprise arrived in time to the renewed peace talks to prevent the assassination. Cartwright attempted to flee but was arrested by Sulu and an Excelsior security team.

Cartwright was convicted for his role in the conspiracy, stripped of rank, and sent to prison. He died in prison in 2298 of apparent natural causes. Some members of Starfleet - particularly those in Starfleet Intelligence - thought one of Cartwright's many enemies arranged for him to be killed in a way that appeared to be natural. As a result of his death by 2300 Valeris was the only known survivor of the conspiracy, and after the Klingon intelligence agent tracked down and killed the Romulan Tal'Shiar agent Nanclus, Valeris was indeed the last survivor.

Trivia

  • The script gave Cartwright's first name as Donald. Other licensed media gave Cartwright's first name as Lance or Kenneth.
  • While Brock Peters was supportive of the message The Undiscovered Country was trying to convey and supported the idea of Cartwright going on a racist rant about the Klingons on the grounds that it would increase the impact. However he was very uncomfortable with the racist language Cartwright used in the Starfleet Headquarters scene. It took multiple takes to get through the scene, as it was very similar to what real-life racists used against African-Americans such as himself. Ultimately the film's crew had to stitch the rant together from a number of different takes.
  • Peters would later return to portray Benjamin Sisko's father Joseph.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Augments (Khan & Joachim)
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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: Whale Probe | Kamarag
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: The One | Klingons (Klaa & Vixis) | Sybok
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: Khitomer Conspiracy (General Chang, Nanclus, Valeris, Admiral Cartwright, Patrick West, Harlan Burke, Thomas Samno)
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