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Scopes Trial 1925 One of the most famous trials in American history was the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. John T. Scopes, a young science teacher, was charged with violating the Butler Act, a state law that, in a roundabout way, prohibited the teaching of evolution in public schools. Scopes was quickly relegated to a minor character in the trial as the two lawyers took center stage. Civil libertarian groups hired famed defense lawyer Clarence Darrow (on the left) to represent Scopes. The prosecution obtained the services of former presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (right), a renowned creationist and famous orator. The highlight of the trial occurred when Darrow called Bryan to testify as an expert on the Bible. (The jury was out of the courtroom when Darrow cross-examined Bryan, and the entire exchange was expunged from the court record as the judge ruled it was irrelevant to whether or not Scopes had broken the law.) Scopes was eventually found guilty and fined $100. The conviction was later overturned on a technicality: the jury was supposed to establish the fine, not the judge. Actually, the trial should not have even occurred. Scopes was not at school on the day cited in the charge. The Butler Act remained on the books in Tennessee until 1976. The trial inspired the 1960 movie Inherit The Wind.
Tags: Scopes  trial  Bryan  Darrow 
Added: 16th November 2007
Views: 1755
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Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2007-11-16 
A quick note on the movie: It shows the William Jennings Bryan character dramatically dying in the courtroom at the conclusion of the trial. Bryan did die shortly after the trial, but not in the courtroom.
Posted by: Teresa on 2007-11-16 
GREAT PHOTO!
Posted by: Naomi on 2007-11-16 
What sparked the trial in the first place was a man named George Rappalyea, who traveled to a Dayton TN drugstore with a copy of a paper containing an ACLU announcement that it was willing to offer its services to anyone challenging the new Tennessee anti-evolution statute. He managed to talk the town leaders into having the trial there, as a way of putting Dayton on the map. Another bit of trivia from this historical event: George Rappalyea
wanted HG Wells to head the defense team, but Wells wasn't interested.
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2007-11-17 
Great info, Naomi! I don't think I'd heard about that aspect of the trial. It doesn't surprise me, though. The law was really on trial here, not John Scopes. It was a great publicity stunt, but it probably did more damage than good to Dayton's reputation.
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