The Scopes "Monkey" Trial

In Defense of Science

Perhaps the most famous of all American trial lawyers, Clarence Darrow left indelible marks in legal history for defending in controversial cases.

His most celebrated case, and probably the preeminent trial in American history was the defense of John Thomas Scopes in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925, known popularly as the "Monkey Trial", Scopes was tried for teaching evolution in a public high school, violating a new law. William Jennings Bryan, three-time candidate for President, volunteered to prosecute.

"So I volunteered to go ... He said that he was 'not so much interested in the age of rocks as in the Rock of Ages'... I called Mr. W. J. Bryan as an expert on the meaning of the word "religion"... I proceeded with questions that brought out points illustrating... ideas of the Bible and religion... Bryan twisted and dodged and floundered... and... made himself ridiculous and contradicted his own faith... He did not think. He knew. "
- The Story of My Life
by Clarence Darrow

Scopes was convicted and fined $100.00. But the proceeding had been carried by radio and in most major newspapers. The discrediting of Bryan ended any further constraints on the scientific approach to understanding. The case "marked a watershed in intellectual history".
- Great American Trials
by Edward W. Knappman

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