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John scopes

            For several days in July of 1925, a high school math teacher in Dayton, Tennessee became the most reported-on man in America. He was not an actor, an athlete, or a politician. He was on trial for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. The trial later came to be known as "Scopes Trial," after John Scopes, the defendant. But this was not a trial to see what punishment he would receive. This trial pitted Protestant fundamentalists against the American Civil Liberties Union. In the end, although Scopes was convicted, many saw the victory go to the ACLU. The Butler Act in Tennessee forbade the teaching of human evolution as written by Charles Darwin. In its place, teachers were to only teach the story of Creation as found in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. This, and thirty-six similar laws, was seen as an infringement on civil liberties. Upon learning of this new law, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), located in New York, placed advertisements in Tennessee newspapers in an attempt to find a teacher willing to stand up to the law. John Thomas Scopes, a math teacher and football coach for Rhea County High School in Dayton, Tennessee, was pressured into taking the challenge by a friend, George Rappleyea, who saw the advertisement. With the school's biology teacher out for the last two weeks of class, Scopes took over and began teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. Soon after, he was arrested and charged with a violation of the Butler Act. Contrary to popular understanding, the worst punishment for this crime was a small fine. Upon his arrest, the ACLU took full responsibility for all monetary charges incurred during the course of the trial. The defense appointed the country's greatest criminal lawyer of the time, Clarence Darrow, who would later gain fame in the acclaimed Leopold and Loeb trial. The prosecution team was led by William Jennings Bryan; a three-time Democratic presidential candidate commonly referred to as the "Great Commoner".

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