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Scopes Trial
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Scopes Trial

law case
Alternative Title: Monkey Trial

Scopes Trial, (July 10–21, 1925, Dayton, Tennessee, U.S.), highly publicized trial (known as the “Monkey Trial”) of a Dayton, Tennessee, high-school teacher, John T. Scopes, charged with violating state law by teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. In March 1925 the Tennessee legislature had declared unlawful the teaching of any doctrine denying the divine creation of man as taught by the Bible. World attention focused on the trial proceedings, which promised confrontation between fundamentalist literal belief and liberal interpretation of the Scriptures. William Jennings Bryan led for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow for the defense. The judge ruled out any test of the law’s constitutionality or argument on the validity of the theory, limiting the trial to the single question of whether John T. Scopes had taught evolution, which he admittedly had. He was convicted and fined $100. On appeal, the state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 1925 law but acquitted Scopes on the technicality that he had been fined excessively. The law was repealed in 1967.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor.
Scopes Trial
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