The Monkey Trial

July 21, 1925

When John T. Scopes went on trial in Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching evolution, the newspaper’s correspondent painted a vivid portrait of the rowdy proceedings at the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial.

DAYTON, Tenn. — Never before in the recorded history of world jurisprudence — Babylonian, Egyptian, Athenian, Roman, Anglo Saxon — has anything occurred that surpassed the proceedings here today when William Jennings Bryan took the witness stand to be questioned by Clarence Darrow. There was pathos beyond words to depict, and humor that would have astounded Aristophanes. There was grandeur and there was Lilliputian buffoonery ...

After long questioning, and with attorneys near fighting stage, there came a series of fiery, caustic, acrimonious thrusts that brought this final shout from Bryan, who turned to the people with outstretched arms:

“He is slurring and slurring and slurring the Bible. I have no objections to answering his questions, but want the world to know he is slurring, slurring, slurring, slurring, slurring the Christian religion and the Bible.”

Darrow retorted like a flash.

“There isn’t an intelligent Christian on earth who believes in your fool ideas.”

Three thousand people arose to their feet in a wave of tense anger and religious excitement.

The judge raised his gavel high above his head and brought it down on the table with a terrible crash and shouted:
“Court is adjourned.”