Scopes Trial

Man Accused of Teaching Theory of Evolution in a School

The Scopes Trial, also known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a very controversial trial. On July 10, 1925 the trial began in Tennessee. John Thomas Scopes, the defendant, was a high school coach and a substitute teacher. He was charged with violating the Butler Act because he taught about the theory of Evolution. The Butler Act said that the teaching of a biblical story of creation was forbidden in schools. The trial drew a lot of attention to this issue. Between the radio broadcasts and the charismatic attorneys the trial was widely heard about.

After the trial was over and the verdict reached it’s decision, Scopes was found guilty. He was charged a fine of $100 ;however, the verdict was dismissed due to a technicality on an appeal. All of this did lead to a new decision in Tennessee. All textbooks over the next few years had all evolution references removed.

Evolution Teaching is the Teaching that man or humanity descended from apes. In other words we were once apes and evolved into homo sapiens today.


Butler ACT - forbids any teaching of any theory that denies the biblical story of Creationism.


Called Scopes “monkey trial” due to the evolution factor of it and the forbidding of it, it was portraying that we were once apes or monkeys and now turned into humans.


ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) - They were against the law itself saying that it was unconstitutional and they were in favor of all teachers who taught it, including John Scopes as well.


They believed this because if you restrict the teaching of evolution and have the Butler Act which makes the Bible (a Christian book of stories of how Earth and life was created) the centerpiece of all going against the freedom of religion. With this act it made the Bible the standard “truth” for everyone and they couldn’t open their minds to other possible ideas with restriction to teaching only other idea of how we may have gotten to where we are today.


William Jennings Bryan - He went against Scopes and his goal was to prove Scopes guilty of breaking this law and to banish Darwins theory of evolution from American society and classrooms. He was a 3 time presidential candidate and former secretary of state; therefore, making him a very well known man government and to the public. He was a great opponent of evolution and led the prosecution.


Clarence Darrow was Scopes famed trail representative lawyer for the accusation. During the trial, Scopes had a low profile while most of it was a verbal war between William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. Both of these men were famous well known and famous lawyers. He had defended many radicals and labor unions members in the past and was now representing Darrow.