Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents / Edition 1

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The Scopes trial shocked America. Tennessee schoolteacher John Scopes brought the question of teaching evolution in schools to every dinner table, and it remains an essential topic in any course on American History, the History of Education, and Religious History. This volume’s lively interpretative introduction provides an analysis of the trial and its impact on the moral fiber of the country and the educational system, and examines the race and gender issues that shook out of the debate. The editor has excerpted the crucial exchanges from the trial transcript itself, and includes these along with reactions to the trial, taken from newspaper reports, letters, and magazine articles. Telling political cartoons and evocative photographs add a colorful dimension to this collection, while a chronology of events, questions for consideration, and a bibliography provide strong pedagogical support.

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Editorial Reviews

The moral decline of youth; the growing cleavages opened up by race, region, and urbanization; the struggle between majoritarianism and rights-based libertarianism; and the clash between older religious attitudes and modern secularism are among the cultural conflicts Moran (U. of Kansas) finds to have informed the now famous trial of a Tennessee high school teacher for teaching human evolution in July 1925. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312249199
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Series: Bedford Cultural Editions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 230
  • Sales rank: 482,253
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.13 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey P. Moran has taught at Harvard and Brown Universities and is currently a member of the history department at the University of Kansas. A specialist in modern American social and cultural history, he is the author of Teaching Sex: The Shaping of Adolescence in the 20th Century (2000) and a clutch of popular and scholarly articles. He is also a recipient of the Louis Pelzer Memorial Award.

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Table of Contents




Introduction: The Scopes Trial and the

Birth of Modern America

Evolution before the 1920s

The Struggle against "Modernity" and Modernism

William Jennings Bryan and the Antievolution Argument

The Butler Bill and the Fight for the Public Schools

Making a Test Case

Opening Day: The Attorneys and Their Strategies

Days Two through Four: Religious Freedom vs. Legislative Authority

Days Five and Six: Experts and Outsiders

And on the Seventh Day, Bryan Took the Stand

Aftermath: From Scopes to Creationism

South vs. North or Country vs. City? Region and Ruralism in the Antievolution Conflict

The Role of the Schools: Academic Freedom vs. Majority Rule

Race and Evolution

Women and Gender in the Scopes Trial


The Scopes Trial Day by Day: Transcript and Commentary

1. First Day’s Proceedings: Friday, July 10, 1925

Partial Text of the Butler Law (Transcript)

Clarence Darrow Examines a Potential Juror (Transcript)

Henry M. Hyde, Jury Pious, Dayton Hot, July 11, 1925

2. Second Day’s Proceedings: Monday, July 13, 1925

Court Opened with a Prayer by Reverend Moffett of Rhea County (Transcript)

Indictment Read (Transcript)

Defense and Prosecution Dispute Butler Law’s

Constitutionality (Transcript)

Darrow’s Major Speech in Defense of Religious Liberty (Transcript)

H. L. Mencken, Darrow’s Speech Great but Futile, July 14, 1925

3. Third Day’s Proceedings: Tuesday, July 14, 1925

Defense Objects to Prayers; Prosecution Defends Practice (Transcript)

Nashville Tennessean, Courtroom Prayer Defended, July 21, 1925

4. Fourth Day’s Proceedings: Wednesday, July 15, 1925

Darrow Proud of Agnosticism (Transcript)

Raulston Rules on Motion to Quash Indictment; Cases Outlined (Transcript)

Defense Pleads Not Guilty; Cases Outlined (Transcript)

Examination of Howard Morgan, One of Scopes’s Students (Transcript)

W. O. McGeehan, Trial Shows Wisdom of Youth, October 1925

5. Fifth Day’s Proceedings: Thursday, July 16, 1925

Defense Pleads for Expert Testimony (Transcript)

"Plain Sense" of Law Makes Experts Unnecessary, Argues Prosecution (Transcript)

William Jennings Bryan’s First Speech (Transcript)

Dudley Field Malone Replies to Bryan (Transcript)

Attorney General Stewart Answers Malone (Transcript)

Joseph Wood Krutch, Fairness Lies on the Defense’s Side, July 29, 1925

6. Sixth Day’s Proceedings: Friday, July 17, 1925

Raulston Rejects Expert Testimony; Darrow Offends (Transcript)

New Republic, Courts Should Not Rule over Legislature, July 8, 1925

7. Seventh Day’s Proceedings: Monday, July 20, 1925

Darrow Objects to "Read Your Bible" Banner (Transcript)

Darrow Questions William Jennings Bryan on the Stand (Transcript)

Did the Whale Swallow Jonah? (Transcript)

Could Joshua Command the Sun to Stand Still? (Transcript)

Did the Flood Wipe Out Civilization? (Transcript)

Darrow Questions Bryan on Genesis (Transcript)

New York Times, Laughter at Bryan’s Expense, July 21, 1925

8. Eighth Day’s Proceedings: Tuesday, July 21, 1925

Court Strikes Bryan’s Testimony (Transcript)

Jury Reaches a Verdict; Scopes Speaks (Transcript)

Farewell Remarks (Transcript)

H. L. Mencken, Battle Now Over; Genesis Triumphant and Ready for New Jousts, July 18, 1925


The Scopes Trial and the Culture of the 1920s: The Documents

1. Cartoonists Draw the Scopes Trial

Dorman, No Wonder the Monkeys Are Worried, June 29, 1925

Rogers, Disbelievers in the Evolution Theory, June 20, 1925

Cross, Unduly Excited, June 25, 1925

Cargill, Education in the Higher Branches, 1925

Alley, The Light of Economic Liberty, May 7, 1925

Baltimore Sun, Waiting, July 17, 1925

Alley, What Manner of Material So Enduring? May 3, 1925

2. Race and the Scopes Trial

Chicago Defender, If Monkeys Could Speak, May 23, 1925

W. E. B. Du Bois, Dayton Is America, September 1925

Reverend John W. Norris, African Methodist Episcopal Church Minister Stands with Bryan, October 1925

P. W. Chamberlain, Racial Hierarchy Proves Evolution, July 13, 1925

George W. Hunter, Race and Eugenics in A Civic Biology, 1914

3. Educational Freedom and the Scopes Trial

William Jennings Bryan, Who Shall Control Our Schools? June 1925

American Civil Liberties Union, Postwar Threats to Academic Freedom, 1931

American Federation of Teachers, Concern over Intolerance, July 18, 1925

American Association of University Professors, University Faculty Define Academic Freedom, 1915

R. S. Woodworth, Tennessee Can Dictate Curriculum, Not Answers, August 29, 1925

4. The Scopes Trial and the "New Woman"

Father Hugh L. McMenamin, A Catholic Priest Argues Women Are Surrendering Their Moral Duty, October 1927

Regina Malone, A Flapper Responds to Attacks on Youths, July 1926

Mrs. E. P. Blair, A Tennessee Woman Calls for Battle against Evolutionist Outsiders, June 29, 1925

Mrs. Jesse Sparks, A Tennessee Mother Writes to Support the Butler Act, July 3, 1925

5. Religious Alternatives in the 1920s

Sarah Comstock, Performing for the Lord: Sister Aimee Semple McPherson, December 1927

Bruce Barton, Jesus as Business Executive, 1925

6. An Invasion of "Outsiders"?

Reverend John Roach Straton, A Fundamentalist Defends Tennessee against Outside Invasion, December 26, 1925

Vine Deloria Jr., A Modern Native American Scholar Decries the Invasion of European Science, 1995


A Chronology of Events Related to the Scopes Trial (1859–1999)

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography


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