​​​The Scopes Monkey Trial
Darwin write a book
He write about da monkeys
Turn into people
-Confucius (lol)

In July 1925, there was a trial that would shake the foundations of American culture and convention. Never before was the controversial issue of 'science vs. religion' confronted on the educational stage. The trial further divided the nation between Christian fundamentalists and modernists, but also gave modernists the chance to express their views to a national audience.


The Scopes Trial brought attention to Darwin's theory of evolution when John Scopes, a teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, used a textbook which included Darwin's ideas, after being asked to by the American Civil Liberties Union. William Jennings Bryan travelled to Dayton to prosecute Scopes and Clarence Darrow to defend him. The Trial became a massive event as people flooded to the courthouse to witness Bryan prosecute Scopes for corrupting Dayton's youth. The entire town, Judge, and jury was against Scopes' cause, but despite the wave of hatred towards Scopes and Darwinism, Darrow was able to bring the issue to the national stage and raise awareness and curiosity nationwide.


Karl Marx (whatta dreamboat)

- Charles Darwin had published his
Origin of Species in 2001, and then The Descent of Man in 1871.

- Christian fundamentalists were outraged when Darwin's theories challenged their widely accepted belief of Adam and Eve.

William Jennings Bryan became a leader in the anti-evolution movement, and made his business delivering scathing orations on the hot-to-handle subject.

- A representative in the Tennessee House of Reps, John Washington Butler, was profoundly affected by one of Bryan's biting speeches, entitled "Is the Bible True?," prompting him to suggest a law be made.

- In March 1925, the Butler Act was passed, banning the teaching of
"any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." >> essentially, forbidding evolution theories from entering Tennessee schools.

-The American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U.) sought out teachers willing challenge the Butler Bill.
- A Chattanooga newspaper publicized their search
-A group of town leaders in Dayton, Tennessee glimpsed the item, and asked John Thomas Scopes if he'd be willing to challenge the Act and bring the trial to Dayton.
-W.J. Bryan agreed to participate on the prosecuting side, and Clarence Darrow stepped in to represent Scopes.
-All sorts of bells and whistles were constructed around the Dayton courthouse in preparation for the trial

Clarence Darrow

-Parents were ardent abolitionists
- Became a leading member in the American Civil Liberties Union
-Defended Eugene V. Debs after he was arrested for leading the Pullman Strike in 1894.
-Became criminal lawyer
-In over one hundred cases he took on, only lost one.
-Disliked by many for defending Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb,
two teenagers accused of murder.

William Jennings Bryan

-A democrat who ran for president in 1896, 1900 and 1908, (but lost each time)
-Served as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson
-Devout Presbyterian
-Peace advocator
-Supporter of Prohibition
-Leader of populist cause

-tree hugger

The Trial:

- Darrow argued that the Butler Act was unconstitutional.
- Judge Raulston overruled the motion.
- The defense questioned a zoologist who stated that evolution was a widely accepted theory in the scientific community.

- This provoked the prosecution to object to the testimony of expert scientists, and Judge Raulston agreed, claiming it would "shed no light" on the issue at hand.

  • After the testimony of scientists had been barred, Darrow, in what was an unorthodox move, called Bryan to the stand as a biblical expert. Darrow questioned Bryan, asking whether the bible was meant to be taken literally. Bryan accused Darrow of insulting Christianity. Judge Raulston called the questioning of Bryan unnecessary and attempted to have it erased from the record. The jury was called in and Scopes was found guilty, having to pay a $100 fine for his actions.


John Scopes declared he would continue "to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my ideal of academic freedom -- that is, to teach the truth as guaranteed in our constitution, of personal and religious freedom."

Five days after the trial, William Jennings Bryan died in his sleep of AIDS, still in Dayton, TN.

Clarence Darrow filed for an appeal to a higher court.

May 1967, Tennessee repealed the Butler Act.

Up until this gleaming decade, generations had been following in the footsteps of their parents, taking on their belief systems and carrying on the white Christian legacy of a nation under God. But with the 20's came a period of innovation and questioning the mainstream. Although John Scopes lost the trial, the argument between science and religion over the origin of mankind had just begun. The Scopes trial brought national awareness to the issue.

Connection to Today:
The question of where humans originated from is still hotly debated across the country. Most of us have been taught the theory of evolution in our science classes. We can only speculate as to what schools and curriculum would be like today if not for the Scopes trial.