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Sample Essay on Scopes Trial

Scopes Trial

Scopes trial is formally called The State of Tennessee vs. John Thomas Scopes. Some people also call it Scopes Monkey trial. It was a famous legal case in America that took place in 1925. In this case, John Scopes who was a substitute high school teacher was accused of violation of the Butler Act of Tennessee. This act made teaching the evolution of human in any school that was funded by the state.

This trial was staged deliberately so that it could attract more publicity to a small Dayton town in Tennessee which is where the case was held. John Scopes himself was not sure if he had actually taught human evolution. However, he incriminated himself purposely to ensure that the case had a defendant. Scopes was fined 100 dollars after he was found guilty but the verdict was later eventually overturned on technicality basis.

Nevertheless, Scopes trial served the purpose by drawing great national publicity.  National reporters flocked Dayton town to cover the names of big lawyers who were representing each side of the case. William Jennings Bryan who had vied thrice as a presidential candidate was arguing for the side of the prosecution. Clarence Darrow, who was a famous defense attorney, was speaking for Scopes.

Scopes trial publicized Fundamentalism-Modernist controversy that set the modernists arguing that evolution was not in any way inconsistent with the religion against the Fundamentalisms who argued that God’s word was revealed in the holy Bible and it had priority of human knowledge. Thus, the trial of Scopes presented a case that was both a trial on modern science regarding whether creation-evolution controversy is necessary teaching in schools and a theological contest.

Analysts note that the Scopes trial received overwhelming press coverage. For instance, the case dominated the front pages of major newspapers such as the New York Times for several days. Over 200 reporters from different regions in the country as well as two reporters from London were reporting the proceedings of this case. There were also twenty two telegraphers who were sending out 165,000 words every day regarding Scopes trial to thousands miles away.

More information was transmitted to the UK regarding the Scope trial more than for other events in America. In the courthouse lawn, there was a performance by trained chimpanzees. WGN radio from Chicago broadcast the Scopes trial via clear-channel broadcasts of Quin Ryan covering the first on-the-scene event of the criminal trial. Movie cameramen were also present to cover the proceedings of the trial.

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