The Scopes Trial
On July 13, 1925 the Scopes trial began. The weeks that led up to the trial were a turbulent time. One pastor was even forbidden to preach. Several farmers even clamed that they had see evolution in process. One said that they had seen a "cat-rabbit" and one saw a "two species hen" (p
1, New York Times, July 12, 1996). The people fought to keep the trial in Dayton (p 2 New YorkTimes, July 7, 1925). Judge Raulston explains why he did not move the trial to Chattanooga.
Here Congress has emphasized the fact that a Judge cannot act upon new matters when outside his district by specifically stating just what he can do. Section 5 if the amendment to Section 18 of the Judicial Code vest the Judge[,] while within the designated district[,] with all the powers of the Judgefor that district. Viewing the law as I do, any injunction which might issue upon a flat which I might grant while not within the territorial limit of the district where the offense is alleged to have been committed and when the trial in the State court is sought to be enjoined would be void. Other reasons for refusing to grant release sought might be assigned, but it is thought the foregoing aresufficient (2, New York Times, July 8, 1925).
The jury was selected in a brief amount of time. The jury was composed of ten farmers, a schoolmaster and a shipping clerk. No one in the jury believed in evolution, but Darrow said, "he did not expect to find any who did" (p 1, New York Times, July 11, 1925).
The plaintiff of the Scopes trial was the People of the State of Tennessee. The Defendantwas John Thomas Scopes who is charged with teaching evolution, which is a violation of Tennessee law. The teaching of the Bible was illegal, so the state legislators decided that it should be illegal to teach evolution. They passed the following law, which is similar to one passed in Florida.
"Be it enacted, by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, that it shall be unlawful for anyteacher of the universities, normals, and all other public schools in the State, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach the 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."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that it wouldfinance a court case to test the constitutionality of the law. John Scopes volunteered to allow himself to be arrested in order to test the law. He said later that, to his knowledge, he had never taught evolution; he simply went along with the ACLU to give them a case. The day that Scopes supposedly taught evolution, he was not even in class ("Biology: God's Living Creation, 353). The penalty forteaching evolution was more than one hundred dollars but not more that five hundred dollars. The prosecution was William Jennings Bryan, who was an ex-Presidential candidate and ex-Secretary of State. The Defense team consisted of Clarence Darrow, John R. Neal, and Dudley Field Malone. The trial was presided by Judge J.T. Raulston (p 1, New York Times, July 11, 1925).
William Jennings Bryanimmediately volunteered to serve as prosecutor for this case. He was known for his strong Biblical stance and his eloquent lectures against liquor and Darwinism. He believed that the Bible was at stake through this trial. He said, "Why these men would destroy the Bible on evidence that would not convict a habitual criminal of a misdemeanor.... The contest between evolution and Christianity is a duel tothe death. It has been in the past a death struggle in the darkness.From this time on, it will be a death grapple in the light. If evolution wins in Dayton[,] Christianity goes - not suddenly, of course, but gradually - for the two cannot stand together. They are as antagonistic as light and darkness, as good and evil" ( 2, New York Times, July 8, 1925).
Clarence Darrow and Dudley Malone, the...
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