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The monkey trial

On this day in 1925, an American was indicted for teaching evolution in a state-funded school in Tennessee. He was later tried in a case that became known as the ‘Monkey Trial’

Published: 25th May 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th May 2017 11:31 PM   |  A+A-

On this day in 1925, an American was indicted for teaching evolution in a state-funded school in Tennessee. He was later tried in a case that became known as the ‘Monkey Trial’

Science vs Religion
John T Scopes had violated a law that prohibited teaching evolution. The charge was that Scopes had taught “certain theories” that “deny the story of Divine creation of man as taught in the Bible and did teach thereof that man descended from a lower order of animals”

Prez candidate prosecutes
Leading civil rights lawyer Clarence Darrow defended Scopes while William Jennings Bryan, a Democrat who stood three times as the party’s nominee for US president, was the state’s prosecutor. H L Mencken, one of America’s greatest writers, had come to witness the trial and write about it. In fact, it was he who asked Darrow to volunteer and defend Scopes

Civil War returns
"Mencken and Darrow really wanted in some sense to re-fight the Civil War. They were Northerners come down to tell the Southern yokels just how stupid they were,” PBS quotes historian Kevin Tierney as saying

$100 fine
Eventually, Darrow lost the case and Scopes was fined $100. Mencken wrote that the trial had been carried on in a manner that exactly fitted the anti-evolution law. He added that the prosecutor began like a competent lawyer but “ended like a convert at a Billy Sunday revival”

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