Powerful individuals and groups lined up on opposite sides of the question. National media, including radio, swarmed into this small town to see the contest. Arguing for the prosecution was William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic candidate for President; and the defense was headed by the famed attorney, Clarence Darrow. Both men were supplemented by prestigious legal teams. After eleven days, the jury found Scopes guilty of the violation, but more importantly popular opinion in the country began to tip in favor of the evolutionary theory. But there’s more to the story, much more.
Enter an amazing website “www.themonkeytrial.com”
Here is a great site devoted to analyzing both the trial and the film side by side. It includes a scene-by-scene synopsis of the film that compares “statements either contained in or strongly implied by the movie” with “statements of a factual nature related to the actual trial.” They have also included 35 video clips from the film to illustrate. The authors of the website have done a thorough job comparing and contrasting movie hyperbole with historical fact.
1. Tennessee passed a statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution.
True, but the Butler Act supporters were equally against teaching the Bible in public schools, and felt it was unfair that only evolution could be taught. They believed they were “leveling the field.”
2. Biology textbooks in Tennessee supported the creation theory.
Actually, the textbooks in 1925 in Tennessee were 100% pro-evolution and had been for 20 years.
3. John Scopes was a victim of a fundamentalist witch hunt
No. The ACLU had been advertising in Tennessee for a teacher to act as a defendant in a trial to test the State’s law. Scopes cooperated willingly. Dayton town fathers on BOTH sides of the evolution issue encouraged Scopes to violate the law to “boost the economic prospects of their small town” by hosting a sensational trial.
And there are dozens of other examples sited. Most relate to the main participants in the trial (and film) such as William Jennings Bryan, Clarence Darrow, and H.L. Mencken; or to the courtroom proceedings themselves.
Check it out. We think you’ll enjoy it.