Article

The Scopes Trial

Adam R. Shaprio

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History


Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199329175 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.79

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  • US History 1900 - 1945
  • Legal and Constitutional History
  • History of Religion

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The 1925 Scopes trial was a widely followed court case in Dayton, Tennessee, that attracted the attention of the nation. A prosecution against a schoolteacher charged with violating Tennessee’s new law prohibiting the teaching of human evolution, the trial became a great public spectacle that saw debates over the meaning and truth of the Bible, and the relationship between science and religion. The trial is most famous for the involvement of the lawyers William Jennings Bryan (for the prosecution) and Clarence Darrow (for the defense).

Despite being a legally insignificant case, the trial has remained important in American history because it is seen as symbolizing some of the country’s great social issues in the early 20th century: fundamentalist responses to modernity, the autonomy and clout of the “New South,” and the eternal clash between religion and science.

Keywords: culture; education; evolution; Darwin; fundamentalism; modernism; Progressive Era; religion; science; trials

Article.  9667 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: US History 1900 - 1945 ; Legal and Constitutional History ; History of Religion

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