Scopes Trial  Aka "The Monkey Trial"


A highly publicized trial in 1925 when John Thomas Scopes violated a Tennessee state law by teaching evolution in high school; Scopes was prosecuted by William Jennings Bryan and defended by Clarence Darrow; Scopes was convicted but the verdict was later reversed.
   The trial began in Drayton on the 11th of July, 1925 , In the small town of Dayton, Tennessee. A group of teachers decided to test a law called the Butler Law. The Butler law made it illegal to teach the theory of evolution and instead mandated the biblical interpretation of creationism. The teachers felt that academic freedom and integrity as well as separation of church and state was at stake. Twenty four year old science teacher and football coach John T. Scopes would teach the class. Knowing he would be arrested Scopes taught the class and set into motion one of the most important trials in American history.
Scopes was arrested, as expected, for violating the Butler Law. At the trial William Jennings Bryan acted as special prosecutor. World famous criminal defense lawyer Clarence Darrow defended Scopes. The trial raged on for days. Darrow asked for immediate judgment and when the jury came back Darrow was shocked...he had lost! The judge levied the minimum fine possible ($100) against Scopes. Later that year the Scopes conviction was overturned on a technicality.
What did all this prove? Well for one it showed the religious and conservative nature of America. It also displayed the vast differences between the big cities and the small towns. The big city newspapers covering the trial scoffed at the Butler Law as small minded. In the cities Scopes was a hero but in Dayton Tennessee he was a criminal.

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