Scopes "Monkey Trial" Begins

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by wpe3bql, Jul 10, 2015.

  1. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql
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    "On this date (July 10) in 1925 in Dayton TN, the so-called "Monkey Trial" began with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, being accused of teaching evolution in violation of a TN state law.

    "The law, which had been passed in March, 1925, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to 'teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, & to teach that man has descended from a lower order of animals.'

    "With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, & after his arrest, the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense.

    "Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the 3-time Democratic presidential candidate & a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution.

    "Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, & the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in US history.

    "On July 10, 1925, the 'Monkey Trial' got underway, & within a few days, hordes of spectators & reporters had descended on Dayton, as preachers set up revival tents along the town's main street to keep the faithful stirred up.

    "Inside the Rhea County Courthouse, the defense suffered early setbacks when Judge John Raulston ruled against their attempt to prove the law was unconstitutional & then refused to end his practice of opening each day's proceeding with prayer.

    "Outside, Dayton took on a carnival-like atmosphere as an exhibit featuring 2 chimpanzees & a supposed
    'Missing Link' opened in town. Vendors sold Bibles, toy monkeys, hot dogs, & lemonade.

    "The 'Missing Link' was, in fact, Jo Viens of Burlington, VT, a 51 YO man who was of short stature & possessed a receding forehead & a protruding jaw. One of the chimpanzees--named Joe Mendi--wore a plaid suit, a brown fedora, & white spats, & entertained Dayton's citizens by 'monkeying' around on the courthouse lawn.

    "In the courtroom, Judge Raulston destroyed the defense's strategy by ruling that 'expert scientific testimony' on evolution was inadmissible--on the grounds that it was Scopes who was on trial, not the law he had violated. The next day Raulston ordered that the trial be moved to the courthouse lawn, fearing that the weight of the crowd inside was in danger of collapsing the floor.

    "In front of several thousand spectators in the open air, Darrow changed his tactics & as his sole witness he called Bryan in an attempt to discredit his literal interpretation of the Bible.

    "In a searching examination, Bryan was subjected to severe ridicule & forced to make ignorant & contradictory statements to the amusement of the crowd.

    "On July 21, in his closing speech, Darrow asked the jury to return a verdict of guilty in order that the case might be appealed.

    "Under TN law, Bryan was thereby denied the opportunity to deliver the closing speech he had been preparing for weeks.

    "After 8 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with a guilty verdict, & Raulston ordered Scopes to pay a fine of $100, the minimum the law allowed.

    "Although Bryan had won the case, he had been publicly humiliated & his fundamentalist beliefs had been disgraced. Five days later, on July 26, he lay down for a Sunday afternoon nap & never woke up.

    "In 1927, the TN Supreme Court overturned the 'Monkey Trial' verdict on a technicality, but left the constitutional issues unresolved until 1968, when the SCOTUS overturned a similar AR law on the grounds that it violated the 1st Amendment."

    SOURCE: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/monkey-trail-begins
     
  2. Thousand Hills

    Thousand Hills
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    Paul, if you've never been to Dayton it might be a fun trip. Nice little town, lot of beautiful scenery in that area.
     
  3. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql
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    I've never been to Dayton.

    One of these days I might try driving there, but in my handicapped situation, I don't know when that will be.

    When I was teaching at a Christian school in Clarksville TN (the now-defunct Bible Baptist Academy) back in the 1980's to 1993, I thought it'd be a neat thing to have some of BBA's HS students that qualified for BBA's HS "Honor Roll" go to visit the site where the trial took place.

    I was told that every year students from what's now WJB University (It was WJB "College" back then.) re-enact the trial based on the actual Rhea County Courthouse transcripts [as opposed to the Gone With the Wind bunch of falsehoods].

    Unfortunately, WJB University re-enacts the trial in the summer (July), and BBA's term didn't start until about a month later (early August).

    Oh well. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  4. Alcott

    Alcott
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    What was some monkey accused of?
     

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