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John Scopes Biography

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Produced in Kentucky in 1900, John Scopes was a teacher in Tennessee who became renowned for going on trial for teaching evolution. Scopes was part of an American Civil Liberties Union effort to challenge a state law forbidding the teaching of evolution. Scopes was found guilty, but his narrative remains well-known as the Scopes “Monkey Trial,” dramatized in the 1960 movie Inherit the Wind starring Spencer Tracy.

A high school science teacher, John Scopes located himself in the centre of one of the 20th century’s most well-known court fights. There, he graduated from high school in 1919. He needed to drop out to get a time for medical reasons, however he eventually earned a degree in law. At that time, there was a national discussion about whether evolution ought to be taught in schools. Across America, Christian fundamentalists went to bar any discussion of evolution in the country’s classrooms.

Tennessee passed their particular law contrary to the teaching of evolution in March 1925. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) needed to challenge the Butler Act in court . While he wasn’t a biology teacher, Scopes offered to be tried under the brand new law. He confessed he’d used a textbook that supported development while serving as a substitute biology teacher. That has been sufficient to get him charged under the brand new law.

Just 24 years old, Scopes saw the case as an opportunity to stand up for academic freedom. He afterwards said, “What goes on in a classroom is as much as the pupil as well as the teacher. When you introduce the ability of the state—telling you what you can and cannot do—you have become involved in propaganda.” On July 10, 1925, Scopes appeared in a Dayton court to stand trial. He was represented by among the very most popular attorneys of the time, Clarence Darrow. On the opposing side, former presidential candidateWilliam Jennings Bryanhad come to town to assist the prosecution.

The trial made headlines with reporters from coast to coast camped out in the small Tennessee town. Dayton was a modest, spiritual community, which led many, including writer H.L. Mencken, to consider that a guilty verdict was a foregone conclusion. Still both Darrow and Bryan gave remarkable orations throughout the trial. Darrow even put Bryan on the witness stand. In the court, Darrow grilled Bryan about narratives in the Bible. After several days of testimony, the jury took just minutes to determine Scopes’ destiny. He was found guilty, but his conviction was later overturned.

Scopes never taught again following the trial. He returned to his studies, earning a master’s degree in geology in the University of Chicago. Settling down, Scopes married and had two kids. He spent the remainder of his career working for such firms as Gulf Oil and United Gas. In 1967, Scopes publishedCenter of the Storm, a bookabout his life and experiences within the famous Scopes “Monkey Trial.” He died of cancer on October 21, 1970, in Shreveport, Louisiana.

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