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July 10, 1925. The Scopes Trial Fact. Vs. Fiction. What you need to know before reading….

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the scopes trial fact vs fiction
July 10, 1925

The Scopes TrialFact. Vs. Fiction

What you need to know before reading…

Creationism- adheres to the literal interpretation of the Bible (Genesis). 6,000 years ago God willed the world to exist. This took one week. Humans were created out of nothing, made in the image of Adam and Eve.
  • Evolution- theory that 3.5 billion years ago, single-celled organisms developed from the molecules in the Earth’s sea. These organisms slowly evolved and changed to adapt to the changing environment. In support of evidence: found fossils that date back to one million years.
  • Jerome Lawrence and Robert Lee
  • They wrote the play BASED on the real 1925 trial.
  • They wrote it and it was performed on stage in the 1950’s.
  • They wrote it as a response to McCarthyism.
inherit the wind
Inherit the Wind
  • Playwrights Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee wrote Inherit the Wind (1955) as a response to“the threat to intellectual freedom presented by the anti-communist hysteria of the McCarthy era.”

McCarthy Era—Joe McCarthy, 1950’s politician, was on an anticommunist crusade. He held hearings to question government officials and others about suspected communist activities, in a campaign of persecution and slander that became known as McCarthyism.

who were involved
Who were involved?
  • Play Name Actual Name
  • Matthew Harrison Brady William Jennings Bryan
  • Henry Drummond Clarence Darrow
  • Bertram T. Cates John Scopes
  • E. K. Hornbeck H. L. Mencken
  • Sarah Brady Mary Baird Bryan
  • Heavenly Hillsboro Dayton, Tennessee
  • Other characters such as Rachel Brown and Rev. Jeremiah Brown are made up to create the story…
  • Why do you think these characters are in the play? What’s their purpose?
so who were they anyway
So, who were they anyway?
  • Clarence Darrow
    • defense attorney famous for long closing arguments
    • just finished his successful defense of murderers Leopold and Loeb, two 17 year old boys who murdered a little kid
    • believed in truth and justice, even if it meant defending those he knew committed a crime
  • William Jennings Bryan
    • a prosecuting lawyer with deep religious beliefs
    • ran for president 3 times (1896, 1900, and 1908)
    • served 2 terms in the House of Representatives
    • died 5 days after the trial ended.
who were they
Who were they?
  • John Scopes
    • the biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee
    • volunteered to teach evolution, knowing he would get into trouble
    • prompting the trial that would challenge the Butler Law, or the anti-evolution act.
  • Dayton, TN
    • Selling fans and Bibles
    • Nationwide publicity
who were they1
Who were they?
  • George Rappalyea
    • the man who wanted to bring the trial to Dayton
    • wanted to challenge the Christian Fundamentalists
    • outraged when, during a funeral for a 6 year old, Christian ministers were condemning the boy to hell for not being baptized
    • contacted the press and the ACLU to get things started
    • sought out Scopes to be the catalyst for the trial.
  • H.L. Mencken
    • the journalist who covered the trial
    • witty writer
    • strong opinions
    • had the ability to stir things up with his writing.
dayton during the trial
Dayton During the Trial

What does this picture tell you about the atmosphere in Dayton? What details show you that?

the scopes monkey trial 1925
The Scopes Monkey Trial—1925

What do you notice about this picture? Anything surprise you?

Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan

1920 s united states
1920’s. United States
  • After WWI, laws were passed in the state legislature prohibiting teaching to ONLY the literal interpretation of the Bible. (NOT allowed to teach Darwin’s theory)
  • 1922 Kentucky teacher fired for teaching the students that the world is round.
  • 1924 North Carolina- textbook banned for having picture of a man on the same page as a picture of an ape
butler act
Butler Act
  • Introduced by John Butler (farmer who ran for office)
  • Forbidden for any teacher in state, school or college to teach any theory denying biblical account of creation on asserting that a man descended from a lower order (animals).
world fundamentalist association wfa
World Fundamentalist Association (WFA)
  • fundamentalism: a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to strict Christian life and teaching
  • against bootleggers, Catholics
  • movement to get 2/3 states with anti-evolution bills/ then make amendment to constitution.
american civil liberties union aclu
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Wanted to test Tennessee law
  • Volunteered their services in trial
  • Would finance defense of any Tennessee teacher who would test constitutionality
  • Aids- Financial assistance, legal advice, publicity
why write historical fiction
  • We must remember that this play is FICTION…the authors Lawrence and Lee meant to make a statement about personal freedoms when writing it…they did not intend to report the case exactly as it happened…
  • Lawrence and Lee used the story of the real Scopes trial to make a point…NOBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO LIMIT OUR FREEDOM TO LEARN AND CHOOSE OUR OWN IDEAS AND BELIEFS. They were writing in the 1950’s when McCarthyism was an issue.
important differences
Important differences…
  • Remember, in reality, John Scopes KNEW he was going to get in trouble. He was a high school biology teacher and coach. He volunteered to break the law in a test case for the ACLU. Prominent citizens of Dayton, Tennessee helped get the trial going to bring publicity to the town.
a time not long ago a place not too far away
“A time not long ago, a place not too far away…”
  • It’s very important to remember that this historical event has deeper meaning and the themes of the play are meant to teach us a lesson. What lessons do YOU think the play teaches us? How does the play have more meaning TODAY than when it was written in the 1950’s? Are we still reluctant to take on new ideas when they challenge what we already believe to be true?
what are evolution and creation anyway
What are evolution and creation, anyway?
  • Well, a man named Charles Darwin published a very important book called The Origin of Species, in 1859. He was not around when the Scopes trial occurred.
  • This scientific theory about how man came to be challenges the theories of Creation, which maintain that God made man.
  • Atheist: one who believes that there is no higher power or deity.
  • Agnostic: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god