Scopes Trial

Satisfactory Essays
Scopes Trial

In March 1925, Tennessee passed the nations first law that made it a crime to teach evolution. The state legislature passed a law forbidding public schools to teach the theory that humans had evolved from lower forms of life rather than from Adam and Eve. Immediately the American Civil Liberties Union promised to defend any teacher who challenged the law. John T. Scopes a biology teacher in Dayton, was arrested for violating the law; he had volunteered to serve in a test case. In his biology class, Scopes read this passage from Civic Biology, "We have now learned that animal forms may be arranged so as to begin with one- celled form and culminate with a group which includes man himself. Scope's trial was set for July. Scope's trial that summer became a headline event.

The American Civil Liberties Union hired Clarence Darrow, the most famous trial lawyer of the day, to defend Scopes. William Jennings Bryan, the former secretary of state and three-time presidential candidate, argued for prosecution. The Scope's trail was a fight over evolution and the role of science and religion in public schools in American society. News correspondents crowded into town, and radio stations broadcast the trial. Almost overnight, the trail became a national sensation.

The trial's climax occurred when Bryan took the witness stand as an expert on religion and science. This was the contest that everyone had been waiting for. To handle the throngs of Bryan supporters, Judge Raulston moved the court outside to a platform built under the maple trees. There, before 2,000, Darrow relentlessly questioned Bryan about his beliefs. Bryan admitted that the Bible might be interpreted in different ways. But in spite of this admission, Scope was found guilty and fined $100. Although Scope's was convicted, modernists claimed victory. The testimony, they believed, had shown fundamentalism to be illogical. The Supreme Court later changed the verdict on a technicality, but the law outlawing the teaching of evolution stayed on books after the trial.

The Scopes Trial had a great impact on the lives of the people in the 1920's. One great impact it had was that it was educating people on evolution. The people in the 1920's minds were opening up to a new theory that just didn't deal with the religious aspect of it.
Get Access