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"The Monkey Trial" Scopes Vs. State By Alexander Schmit.

1079 words - 4 pages

An era was coming to an end, and a new one was beginning. America was changing, and socialism was taking its hold. The 1920's social life was split mostly between traditionalists and modernists. Traditionalists believed everything with value was coming to an end, and the behavior of the modernists began to fall upon one's intellect, instead of society's approval. Jazz flowed through the veins of the young as fluently as did alcohol. Prohibition was questioned, contemporary art was abstract, as was the thoughts of the young(Hanson, Linder).They argued mainstream concepts, and searched for new ideas. One such person was John Thomas Scopes, a high school science teacher who was substituting for a biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee(Hanson, Linder, Menton). He assigned readings on evolution for a review. Wanting to get publicity for their town, a group of conspirators, including George Rappaylea, a friend of Scopes, concocted a lynching lawsuit against him. Rappaylea fed words to Scopes to create an image of criminal act by Scopes' teaching of evolution. His teaching came from the state approved textbook, that Scopes had assigned work from. Thus, Scopes had broken the law. Scopes was taken to court, and the trial of the 20's had begun. At court Scopes was tried(Hanson, Linder).Originally, Rappaylea wanted to have science fiction writer H.G. Wells to head the defense. Wells had no interest in the case, but a law school dean from Knoxville, John Neal, volunteered. Willeam Jennings Bryan, accompanied by Clarence Darrow, offered to join the prosecution team, despite the fact he had not practiced law in over thirty years. Dudley Field Malone, an international divorce attorney, took up the last spot of the defense team. The rest of the prosecution team consisted of A. T. Stewart, Ben B. McKenzie, and Bryan's son William Jennings Bryan, Jr(Hanson, Linder, Menton).Dayton's environment became carnival-like as it gained its 15 seconds of fame. Banners decorated the streets, lemonade stands were set up, chimpanzees performed in a sideshow on Main Street, and Anti-Evolution League members sold copies of Hell and the High School(Hanson, Linder). Yes, Dayton was indeed "put on the map."Almost a thousand bystanders attended the trial at Ryea County Courthouse on July 10, 1925 for the first day of trial. This was a unique trial set up to test the law. The judge, Judge John T. Raulston, had proposed moving the trial to a tent that would have seated 20,000 people. Also, in this trial, announcers had set up to send listeners the first live radio broadcast of a trial. The trial, to oppose the defense, opened with a prayer(Hanson, Linder).The jury consisted of twelve men, in that twelve, eleven of them attended church on a regular basis. The court was adjourned for the weekend, and William Jennings Bryan delivered his sermon to the people at Dayton's Methodist Church. It was recorded that Judge Raulston and family attended the sermon(Linder).At the expense of John...

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