The Scopes Monkey TrialCole DelongJunior DivisionHistorical PaperPaper Length: 2489 wordsThe Scopes Monkey Trial”Never in my life have I learned anything from any man who agreed with me (Dudley).”-Dudley Field MaloneIntroductionIn 1925, John Thomas Scopes was arrested and put on trial for violating the Tennessee Butler Act. This eventful trial, commonly called the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a pivotal moment in history and was done in an attempt to put the act on trial, rather than whether or not Scopes violated the act.BackgroundReligion and Science Since the beginning of mankind, we have been trying to explain where we came from and why things happen. There are two main ways we have done this: Science and Religion. Science is when we try to explain things by looking at facts and accepting that we might be wrong.
Religion is when we make up stories with no evidence to back them and try to convince people that what they say is true. I am not saying that people who are religious are ignorant or unintelegent, for if I was told from birth that every part of, say, the Bible, is true by my parents, people whom I highly trust, I would (probably) be a devout believer in the Bible. I am not even saying that religion is a bad thing. Religion has turned countless lives around, and for the better.
I am simply saying that if I do not believe in in ungrounded ideas of religion, I should not be treated as any less than people who do. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection The theory of evolution by natural selection is the theory that every organism evolved from a common ancestor (Contributor). The theory is that we evolved to have more preferable features because animals with those features are more likely to live long enough to reproduce, so we slowly get better and better. This theory has been endorsed by people of science, but many creationists deny this theory because it counteracts their religion. If you wish to learn more about the process of evolution, you can read Charles Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life.” The Butler Act Bryan Jennings William was an American attorney and politician, as long as a devout fundamentalist (DeBerry). He influenced people to try to make it illegal to teach evolution in schools. Because of him an act was passed in March of 1925 by John Butler that made it illegal for any teacher in a public school to, “.
..teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible… (“Butler_Act.Pdf.”; Johnson 73 )” People took “.
..any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation…” as the theory of evolution by natural selection. The governor who made this act did it for the rural vote and didn’t think it would actually be enforced (HUDSON). Sadly, however, he was wrong.
The Arrest and Other Preparations Understandably, many people were not happy about the act. According to the Salem Press, the ALCU, “…
offered to provide legal services to any teacher in Tennessee who would test the constitutionality of the act.” This means they would support them in court and pay the fee if they lose (DeBerry). George Rappleyea heard of ACLU’s offer and talked to Scopes about the possibility of a test case with Scopes (“The Scopes). Scopes followed up the offer, and, reluctantly, the Country Superintendent of Schools and the Chairmen of the School Board arrested him. A few days later, William Jennings Bryan responded by announcing that he would help District Attorney A.T. Stewart in the prosecution of this case, which caused Clarence Darrow, one of the most famous trial lawyer in the United States, to lead the defence’s case (DeBerry). Other big attorneys defending Scopes were Arthur Garfield Hays and Dudley Field Malone, and outstanding civil liberties attorney and a well-known divorce lawyer, respectively (DeBerry).
According to the Salem Press, the small town was flooded by reporters from the country’s major newspapers. This source states, “Telegraph wires were run into the courthouse, and the Chicago Tribune installed radio equipment; the trial was the first to be broadcast in American history.” Hotels filled up, so people started renting out rooms of their houses to guests. The Trial The trial was opened on Friday, July 10th with a prayer (DeBerry).
According to the book “The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial,'” there was a huge audience and reporters everywhere (40). The defense’s original approach was to test the constitutionality of the act, rather than whether or not Scopes actually violated the act (49). The book “The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial'” states, “He (John Neal) ended his remarks by declaring that the Butler Act established the teaching of religion in public school, a clear violation of Tennessee’s Bill of Rights.” This means Neal thought the Butler Act violated Tennessee’s separation of church and state clause.
This claim was rebutted by Ben McKenzie, a retired Tennessee lawyer who knew the majority of the audience were Christian, so they were on his side. Because of this, he used humor, which the crowd cheered and applauded to (49; 50). The main part of his rebuttal was that the public schools were funded by the taxpayers, therefore taxpayers should have authority over what could be taught in schools through their elected state representatives (51). He also mentioned that the Butler Act did not require students to attend any church (51).The defense’s next claim was that the Butler Act never explicitly mentioned evolution. The act states, “..
.it shall be unlawful… to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of a man as taught in the Bible… (“Butler_Act.Pdf”).” The only other place you can find the word “evolution” is in the preamble, which has no effect on the bill itself. According to the book “The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial,'” Clarence Darrow followed this by stating that, to comply with the Butler Act, every science teacher would have to carefully study the Bible to make sure that they never deny any of the scripture at any time (53).
They would have to teach that the sun revolved around the Earth, which, according to the Bible, is also flat (53). Every single science teacher would have to read and understand the Bible so be sure that he or she does not violate the act (53). Darrow then stated, that if we make it illegal to teach evolution in a public school, we will end up making it illegal to teach it in a private school, which will lead to making it illegal to teach in a church (54). Once Darrow took a seat, Judge Raulston closed the court for the day (54).During the trial, Scopes and Darrow were not shown as the reasonable men they were. Instead, according to the book “The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial,'” the day following Darrow’s speech, there was an editorial cartoon run by Commercial Appeal showing Darrow as the Antichrist (54). Also, in H.
L. Menken’s column for the Baltimore Evening Sun, he wrote this about Darrow’s speech, “The net effect of Clarence Darrow’s great speech yesterday seems sic to be precisely the same as if he had bawled it up a rainspout sic in the interior of Afghanistan (Digital History).” He means Darrow’s speech had a very little effect on the courtroom observers.There was a thunderstorm the evening subsequent to Darrow’s speech, which knocked out the electricity (Johnson 54). This was fixed by the preceding day, however, Judge Raulston had not completed his opinion on the defence motion, and therefore he announced that he would need to use a few more hours to work privately (54; 55). Notwithstanding, he has a pastor open the court day with a prayer (55). Clarence Darrow object to it this time, stating that it could potentially impact the jurors, which sparked a heated debate between Ben McKenzie and Stewart and Malone and Hays (55). In Anne Johnson’s book “The Scopes ‘Monkey Trial,'” she states, “Stewart accused Scopes’s defense team of being ‘agnostics’ who needed to remember that Tennessee was a ‘God-fearing country (56).
‘” Malone countered by denying being agnostic and telling him that New York City was God-fearing, too, which was put down when Stewart insisted that the Scopes case wasn’t about religion, rather it was about figuring out if Scopes has broken the law (56). Once again, Judge Rauslton called a pastor to deliver a prayer despite the objectify the defense (56). Rauslton left after lunch and came back a few hours later, furious to figure out that his decision on the constitutionality of the Butler Act was already released to the public, despite the fact that he had not even made his speech about it (58).The jury joined them for the fourth day (58). This was when Stewart started the prosecution with these two sentences: “Our position is that the stature is sufficient. The statute defines exactly what the people of Tennessee decided and intended and did declare unlawful, and it needs no interpretation.
(“Scopes.pdf.”)” Malone opened the case with a much longer speech, claiming that Scopes had never actually broken the law (59). The defence planned on using experts who are both people of science of religion to prove that there is no conflict between them (59). The prosecution called forward four witnesses: Rhea County School Superintendent Walter White, two of Scopes’s students, and Frank “Doc Robinson,” A person who helped convince Scopes to go up against the law. All of them stated that Scopes violated the law (60; 61). The defense’s first witness was Dr. Maynard Metcalf, a devout Christian (63; 64).
Judge Raulston allowed Metcalf to testify, although not in front of the jurs (65). He lectured the crowd about the difference about the theory of evolution and the fact of evolution and about whether or not they contradict the Bible (65). Now comes arguably one of the most iconic days of the case: the fifth day. In the beginning of this day, Bryan began this day with a highly anticipated speech where he addressed most of the topics that have come up over the course of the trial and talk about the dangers of teaching evolution (67-69). After this speech, Dudley F. Malone stood up and opened his rebuttal by uttering these words: “Whether Mr. Bryan knows it or not, he is a mammal, he is an animal and he is a man. (71)” The first thing Malone talked about was the fact that Bryan said evolution corrupted morals.
He reminded the judge that the students called forward claimed they had not been harmed by the theory (72). He then claimed that it was unfair that the defense was not allowed to produce witnesses to the jury (73). According to the book “Scopes ‘Monkey Trial,'” the courthouse “erupted in cheers and sustained applause when Malone completed his remarks. (73)” The book also states, “Even John Washington Butler… thought Malone’s presentation was ‘the finest speech of this century. (73)'” John Washington Butler is the author of the Butler Act (73). Unsurprisingly, the sixth day was opened with a morning prayer (75).
Despite Malone’s speech, Judge Raulston did not allow the defense’s expert to testify (75). However, after protest by the defense, they were allowed to call forward any witness as long as the prosecution would be able to cross-examine them (75). The defense took the weekend to prepare their statements (76). The crowd felt that the seventh day, opened by a prayer, would be the last (78). The morning consisted of the defense reading statements (79). Unexpectedly, this day took place outdoors (79). The defense’s last witness was William Jennings Bryan (80). He was called as an expert on the Bible (79).
He accepted (80). This questioning started out friendly, but soon became rather violent (81). Darrow challenged his fundamentalist view of the Bible, and in the end, Bryan admitted he did not actually believe the Bible 100% literally (84). On the eighth day, Darrow asked the jury for a guilty verdict, making it unnecessary to have closing arguments (86; 87). The jury took 9 minutes to find that Scopes was guilty (87). Judge Raulston stated that Scopes would pay the minimum fee of $100, which eventually was played by H.
L, Mencken (87; 88). Subsequent to the Trial The defense was planning on losing so it could appeal to higher courts, however, the court overstepped his authority, and therefore Scopes was cleared on a technicality, which means they could not appeal and put the constitutionality of the act on trial (DeBerry). Because of this, the law stayed as it was until 1967. Immediately after the trial, people assumed that the Scopes trial has dealt a big blow to the influence of religious fundamentalism in public schools, but many school boards reacted by taking evolution out of their high school curriculum (DeBerry). This case did succeed in sparking debate about religion because of how big the trial was. Conclusion In conclusion, the Scopes Monkey Trial was one of the biggest and most pivotal trials in history, which effects us and our schools even today.
Sources CitedPrimary Sources:”Butler_Act.Pdf.” Ncsc.com, https://ncse.
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