The Scopes Monkey Trial

In 1859, Charles Darwin published a book called the Origin of the Species. After much research, he put forth his theory that all organisms have evolved into what they are today from very different organisms thousands of years ago. Man, in fact, evolved from apes. He did not at all believe in the Bible or in the idea that God or a divine creator fashioned the world and everything in it.

In January 1925, John Butler, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, submitted a bill which stated that no teacher in the state who worked in a school taking state funds could teach any theory denying divine creation. The House passed the bill. The senate decided to pass it also because they thought the governor would veto it.

However, the governor did not veto it. He did say that he thought that no one would enforce it. The ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization which tries to protect civil rights of citizens, heard about the case. They were afraid that if the law stood in Tennessee, other states would follow suit. The ACLU believed in evolution and denied a divine creator.

The ACLU agreed to pay the expenses of any teacher who would test the law by teaching evolution in his classroom. A young science teacher and coach at Rhea County Central High School in Dayton, Tennessee, John Scopes, agreed to do this because he believed in evolution and did not believe in God. The town was excited about being the center of attention and his neighbors urged Scopes to take on the challenge. He was arrested on May 7, 1925.

William Jennings Bryan, an attorney, a former Congressman from Nebraska, and Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson, agreed to be the prosecutor against Mr. Scopes. Bryan was called the 'Great Commoner' and believed that religion was the 'backbone' of the rural farmer. He believed in divine creation and was against teaching evolution.

Bryan believed that Mr. Scopes was guilty of breaking the law. Several witnesses confirmed that Scopes had taught the theory of evolution. Bryan didn't even plan to debate the moral issues in the case, whether the law was wrong or right. He believed that the right of the people to control what they wanted taught in their schools was in question.

Clarence Darrow, a social reformist and an attorney who had made a name for himself in defending many famous cases, took over the defense of Mr. Scopes. Darrow didn't believe in God and thought that evolution should be taught in school. He thought that Christianity was a 'slave religion.'

Darrow knew that he couldn't spend much time saying that his client was innocent, so decided to put William Jennings Bryan on the stand as a witness. For 2 hours, he questioned him repeatedly about the Bible and his beliefs. He wanted him to admit that he really had questions about some parts of the Bible being true. Bryan even did agree that maybe God didn't create the world in 6 days. He knew that Darrow had led him into a trap.

The jury found John Scopes guilty. Darrow believed that there would be an appeal so wasn't worried about the guilty verdict. The State Supreme Court heard the appeal and upheld the guilty verdict, but the Chief Justice decided to throw out the 'bizarre' case, so Scopes went free. William Jennings Bryan died 5 days after the trial ended. The anti-evolution law remained in place in Tennessee until 1967. This case became known as the 'Scopes Monkey Trial' because of Darwin's theories.

A: Clarence Darrow
B: William Jennings Bryan
C: Woodrow Wilson
D: John Butler

A: John Butler
B: Clarence Darrow
C: Charles Darwin
D: William Jennings Bryan

A: Clarence Darrow
B: Charles Darwin
C: John Butler
D: Woodrow Wilson


A: John Butler
B: Charles Darwin
C: William Jennings Bryan
D: Clarence Darrow

A: 1967
B: 1955
C: 1931
D: 1939

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