John Scopes and the Monkey Trial

762 Words4 Pages
John Scopes and the (monkey) trial The Scopes Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a famous American legal case in 1925 in which a high school teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach evolution in any state-funded school. The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught evolution, but he purposefully incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side. William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate for the Democrats, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial set modernists, who said evolution was consistent with religion, against fundamentalists who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on the veracity of modern science regarding the creation-evolution controversy. The trial is perhaps best known today for serving as the inspiration for the play, and later the movie, Inherit the Wind, both of which were critical successes. State Representative John W. Butler, a Tennessee farmer, succeeded in passing the anti-evolution law that was known as the Butler Act.[2] Butler later stated, "I didn't know anything about evolution... I'd read in the papers that boys and girls were coming home from school and telling their fathers and mothers that the
Open Document