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The "Monkey Trial"

             In the rural heartland of the early 1920s, believers in old-fashioned values were caught up in a wave of religious revival. Preachers damned modern scientific rationalism in all of its semblances and advocated a strict and literal interpretation of the Bible as the only source of truth. Modernists and traditionalists had very different opinions and a confrontation appeared imminent. Fundamentalists were particularly annoyed that public schools were teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection rather than the Biblical story of Creation. They did not approve of Adam and Eve being apes and did not care for their children being led astray from their religious beliefs. William Jennings Bryan, the thrice-defeated presidential candidate for populism, led the Fundamentalists in trying to oust the Darwinian "heresy" out of schools by legislative fiat. .
             John Washington Butler sponsored a Tennessee bill, enacted in 1925, declaring it unlawful for a teacher in any school supported by state funds "to teach any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." Other states passed similar bills. A few weeks later, in the town of Dayton, Tennessee, a New Yorker with Darwinian views got into a debate with two fundamentalist lawyers. They agreed to a trial to decide whose views were proper. The local high school science teacher, John Thomas Scopes, was recruited to be the local guinea pig to be charged with teaching the theory of evolution. He taught the theory on April 24 and was arrested on May 7. Scopes was indicted swiftly by the grand jury, setting the stage for what would become known as the "Monkey Trial." Scopes was defended by Clarence Darrow, Arthur Garfield Hays, and Dudley Field Malone. The Chief prosecutors were William Jennings Bryan himself and A.

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