1925 – John T. Scopes convicted of teaching evolution in Tennesee

It seems absurd today – although perhaps not as absurd as we might like – but back in 1925, the entire American nation was up in arms over a court case in which a young teacher stood accused of the heinous crime of teaching evolution. Admittedly, this did happen in the Bible Belt, but even so, 1925? In the heyday of eugenics, teaching evolution was still verboten in Tennessee.

That was what John Scopes learned that day. Despite the impassioned defence of Clarence Darrow, he was convicted and made to pay a fine of $100 (that would be equal to about $1,250 in 2010 dollars). Scopes did not contest his guilt – he had taught evolution – but contended that the law itself was unjust. After the failure of an appeal to the State Supreme Court, Scopes, left Tennessee, never to return. Evolution, in open defiance of the ban on its teaching, continued to occur in the state of Tennessee, and to date, all efforts to cause it to cease this unconstitutional activity have failed utterly.

Referenced in:

The Scopes Trial — Vernon Dalhart