The Scopes Trial

Seperating scientific freedom from religious views

The Butler Act

Passed in 1925 in Tennessee, outlawed the teaching of evolution and denying Creationism.


Looking for publicity, the ACLU enticed John Scopes to be arrested on the account of violating the Butler Act, knowing the town would get a lot of attention.

The Trial

After his arrest, John Scopes was put on trial for violation of the Butler Law. "The trial was marked by hoopla and a carnival-like atmosphere." Media buzzed around the trial, it was incredibly publicized and controversial. W

William Jennings Bryan, Prosecutor

William Jennings Bryan argued that evolution did not have enough evidence to support it, and was angered by the way it was taken out of context with lassiez-faire and Social Darwinism.

Scopes Appealing

Scopes appealed to the state Supreme Court challenging the conviction and right to free speech. Later he changed his plea to guilty and was fined $100, and evaded the fine on the technicality of the judge sentencing the $100 and not the jury.

So What?

It was politicized through the modernist/fundamentalist controversy, eventually leading to the concept of scientific free speech and academic freedom, the trial was later popularized by the play Inherit the Wind in 1955.