Today, July 10, is the 85th Anniversary of the beginning of the "Scopes Monkey Trial," the famous Tennessee court case that was ostensibly concerned with the issue of whether John T. Scopes, a 24-year old science teacher, was breaking the law by teaching evolution in a school, but soon (and forever after) became a historical touchstone in American educational history. A good overview (though some of the details are wrong) can be found here.
The facts of the case are probably known to many, but include some interesting historical trivia:
1. Scopes was actually found guilty. He had broken the law against teaching evolution and was fined, though the case was later overturned on a technicality.
2. Much of the trial was held outside, due to the sweltering July heat in Dayton, Tennessee.
3. The entire affair lasted only two weeks.
4. William Jennings Bryan, perhaps America's greatest orator and a powerful force in American politics at the turn of the last century (and the erstwhile Svengali of the anti-evolution claque), died five days after the original verdict in the Scopes case.
5. Clarence Darrow (the lawyer for the defendant, and forever after the American image of the genteel Southern lawyer) saw his final major court case, a murder trial in Hawaii, become a national celebrity case in 1932, with final arguments by the lawyers broadcast over the radio in the United States as the O.J. Simpson trial of its time.
Jim Keane, S.J.