Term Paper Resource Guide to Twentieth-Century United States History

By Robert Muccigrosso; Ron Blazek et al. | Go to book overview

27.

Scopes Trial (1925)
During the 1920s, the battle between religious fundamentalism and secularism focused most dramatically on Darwinism. In 1925 Tennessee outlawed the teaching of evolution in the state’s public schools and colleges. John T. Scopes, a biology teacher in a Dayton high school, challenged the law. Clarence Darrow, the nation’s most eminent defense lawyer, helped to defend Scopes, as did the American Civil Liberties Union. William Jennings Bryan, a leading fundamentalist, aided the prosecution. Found guilty, Scopes was fined $100, although a higher state court dismissed the case. Bryan died a few days after the original verdict was announced. The struggle between evolutionists and creationists continues to this day.
Suggestions for Term Papers
1. Why was religious fundamentalism strong in the 1920s?
2. Compare the roles played by Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan in the trial.
3. Discuss the consequences of the Scopes trial.
4. Discuss the contemporary battle between evolutionists and creationists.
5. Compare the actual Scopes trial with a later depiction, such as the drama Inherit the Wind (1955), by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, which was made into a film in 1960.

REFERENCE SOURCES

Clarence Darrow: A Bibliography. Willard D. Hunsberger. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1981. An extensive bibliography on the important lawyer and the law.


GENERAL SOURCES

Hofstrop, Richard W. The Scopes Trial; Dropping the Atomic Bomb on Japan; United States Versus Alger Hiss; Mississippi–Summer 1964. Palm

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