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Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925

Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925

The 1920’s has been characterized by a period of new thinking and a dispute between traditional beliefs and modernization (Boudia). The era became known as a time of contradiction in people’s thoughts and ideas. After World War 1, fundamentalism soared in popularity, particularly in the South and Midwest. Fundamentalists believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible, and saw the Darwin theory of evolution as a threat to Christianity (The Scope Monkey Trial-July 10, 1925). So opposed to evolution, these fundamentalists set out to eliminate it from society, beginning with the education system in Dayton, Tennessee.

By 1925, many states throughout the South had put into effect laws to disallow the teaching of evolution in schools (The Scope Monkey Trial-July 10, 1925). One of these, the Butler Law, was passed in Tennessee even through the governor, Austin Peay, who was not a fundamentalist (The Scope Monkey Trial-July 10, 1925). A former teacher, John Butler, “wrote a bill outlawing the teaching of any theory of evolution contrary to the Bible” (Shellnut). Butler felt “teaching of evolution threatened the family and to cast doubt on the Bible was to undermine the foundations of the State” (Shellnut). The governor passed Butler’s bill as he said, “Nobody believes that it is going to be an active statute” (The Scope Monkey Trial-July 10, 1925).

His statement soon became inaccurate as the American Civil Liberties Union became more and more heedful of what they thought to be an infringement on their constitutional rights (The Scope Monkey Trial-July 10, 1925). The ACLU put Tennessee in their sights and instituted a court case to challenge the Butler Law. Soon after, George Rappalyea, a local company manager from New York, arrived at Fred Robinson’s drugstore (Linder). He had with him a copy of the ACLU’s offer of its services to anyone willing to challenge the new Tennessee anti-evolution law (Linder). Rappalyea’s intentions were clearly to kill two birds with one stone: to put the small Tennessee mining town of Dayton on the map and to bring down the despised law. Here at Robinson’s drugstore on May 5, 1925, Rappalyea and other local leaders met to work out the details of their plan (The Scope Monkey Trial-July 10, 1925). What they needed was a teacher to test the law,...

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