Scopes Trial

By Kelsey Nevill and Niall Nugent

What was the Scopes Trial?

The Scopes Trial happened in 1925 and was over the issue of teaching evolution in schools. It featured John Scopes (pictured right), a Tennessee high school teacher who broke the law by teaching evolution, against the State of Tennessee. The two sides were represented by two of the best lawyers at the time. They were William Jennings Bryan representing the state of Tennessee and Clarence Darrow representing John Scopes.


The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is a non-profit organization whose goal is to preserve the individual rights guaranteed to everybody in the United States by the Constitution. It was founded in 1920. It represented John Scopes in the Scopes Trial saying that the Constitution gave him the right to teach students about evolution. Today, the ACLU has over 500,000 members and has headquarters in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

How Fundamentalism Was Involved

Fundamentalism is a group of people from a certain religion (in this case Christianity) that believe in running strictly by the rules of their religion. This was involved in the Scope's Trial because Christian Fundamentalists were the ones whom created the law in Tennessee and whom prosecuted Mr. Scopes. Williams Jennings Bryan, the lawyer fighting for the State of Tennessee was a Christian fundamentalist.

Clarence Darrow

Clarence Darrow fought in the Scope trials. He was one of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys of the time and was fighting with John Scopes. Darrow was also agnostic in religious matters. As Darrow attacked the other side, he called the idea’s “fool ideas that no intelligent Christian on earth believes.” In the end he lost the case.

William Jennings Bryan

William Jennings Bryan (pictured below) was the States attorney in the case. He was a Christian, Pacifist and former candidate for the US presidency. Bryan’s beliefs were that “evolution was dangerous and would lead society to dangerous social movements.” (PBS scopes trial) Bryan called Evolution “millions of theories strung together.” (PBS scopes trial)


Evolution is the scientific theory that humans evolved over vast periods of time. People had different views on what evolution was, but the fact that a law was passed making it illegal to teach evolution was just wrong. Evolution is basically how we went from Apes to the most advanced species on the planet. Christians didn’t believe in Evolution which is what began this whole conflict in Tennessee.

Case Results

The results of the case were Darrow and Scopes lost, and Scopes had to pay a fine of $100. Although during the case Darrow made it sound as if Bryan was trying to inflict his beliefs on the entire country. In other states there were trials similar to the Scopes, but those states decided not to prosecute the cases.