The Scopes Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a famous American legal case in 1925 in which a high school teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach evolution in any state-funded school. The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught evolution, but he purposefully incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant.
Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side. William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate for the Democrats, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial set modernists, who said evolution was consistent with religion, against fundamentalists who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on the veracity of modern science regarding the creation-evolution controversy.
The trial is perhaps best known today for serving as the inspiration for the play, and later the movie, Inherit the Wind, both of which were critical successes.
Famous quotes containing the word trial:
“You may talk about Free Love, if you please, but we are to have the right to vote. To-day we are fined, imprisoned, and hanged, without a jury trial by our peers. You shall not cheat us by getting us off to talk about something else. When we get the suffrage, then you may taunt us with anything you please, and we will then talk about it as long as you please.”
—Lucy Stone (18181893)