Scopes Trial

2301 Words10 Pages

The Scopes Trial, a Tennessee legal case involving the teaching of evolution in public schools, induced a pivotal point in American history. This world-famous trial symbolizes the conflict between science and theology, faith and reason, individual liberty, and majority rule. The preeminent purpose of the case was to decide not only the fate of an evolution theory teacher by the name of John Scopes, but also to decide if fundamentalists or modernists would rule American culture and education. An object of profound publicity, the trial was identified as a battle between urban modernism and rural fundamentalism.

On January 20, 1925, a Tennessee state senator, John A. Shelton, proposed a bill to make the teaching of evolution in the state’s …show more content…

More than two hundred newspaper reporters from all over the world had come to the small town of Dayton to witness the historical event take place; for the first time in history, a trial would be broadcast over the radio. (Johnson) The judge of the trial was John T. Raulston, a conservative Christian who craved publicity. The jury consisted of twelve men, the majority of them being farmers and church-goers. Superintendent White led off the prosecution’s list of witnesses with his testimony that John Scopes had admitted to teaching about evolution from Hunter’s Civic Biology textbook. Chief Prosecutor Tom Stewart then asked seven students in Scopes class a series of questions about his teachings. They testified that Scopes taught that man and all other mammals had evolved from one-celled organisms. Darrow cross-examined the students, asking freshman Howard Morgan, “Well did he tell you anything else that was wicked?”. Howard replied, “No, not that I can remember.” . After, drugstore owner Fred Robinson took the stand to testify as to Scopes’ statement that “Any teacher in the state who was teaching Hunter’s biology was violating the law.” The prosecution rested, John Scopes was fined $100 for his crime, and the trial adjourned for the weekend. During the break, William Jennings Bryan preached a sermon at Dayton Methodist Church and used the occasion to attack the defense strategy in the Scopes Case. (Larson) His biased sermon urged the congregation to stand against Scopes and his public defenders in the

Show More
Open Document