Sunday, July 10, 2005


It Was 80 Years Ago Today...

Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan squared off in the Scopes Monkey Trial on July 10, 1925 in the Rhea County Court House in Dayton, Tenn.

Here's an excerpt from the trial transcript as Darrow moves that a "Read Your Bible" banner be removed from the courthouse on the trial's seventh day.

Darrow: [Clarence Darrow, Scopes Defense Attorney] Your honor, before you send for the jury, I think it my duty to make this motion. Off to the left of where the jury sits a little bit and about ten feet in front of them is a large sign about ten feet long reading. "Read Your Bible," and a hand pointing to it. The word "Bible" is in large letters, perhaps, a foot and a half long, and the printing--

The Court: [Judge John T. Raulston] Hardly that long I think, general.

Darrow: What is that?

The Court: Hardly that long.

Darrow: Why, we will call it a foot....

Darrow: I move that it be removed.

The Court: Yes.

McKenzie: [Ben G. McKenzie, Assistant Attorney General of Tennessee, member of the Prosecution Team] If your honor please, why should it be removed? It is their defense and stated before the court, that they do not deny the Bible, that they expected to introduce proof to make it harmonize. Why should we remove the sign cautioning the people to read the Word of God just to satisfy the others in the case?...

Darrow: Let me say something. Your honor, I just want to make this suggestion. Mr. Bryan says that the Bible and evolution conflict. Well, I do not know, I am for evolution, anyway. We might agree to get up a sign of equal size on the other side and in the same position reading, "Hunter's Biology," or "Read your evolution." This sign is not here for no purpose, and it can have no effect but to influence this case, and I read the Bible myself--more or less--and it is pretty good reading in places. But this case has been made a case where it is to be the Bible or evolution, and we have been informed by Mr. Bryan, who himself, a profound Bible student and has an essay every Sunday as to what it means. We have been informed that a Tennessee jury who are not especially educated are better judges of the Bible than all the scholars in the world, and when they see that sign, it means to them their construction of the Bible. It is pretty obvious, it is not fair, your honor , and we object to it....

The Court: The issues in this case, as they have been finally determined by this court is whether or not it is unlawful to teach that man descended from a lower order of animals. I do not understand that issue involved the Bible. If the Bible is involved, I believe in it and am always on its side, but it is not for me to decide in this case. If the presence of the sign irritates anyone, or if anyone thinks it might influence the jury in any way, I have no purpose except to give both sides a fair trial in this case. Feeling that way about it, I will let the sign come down. Let the jury be brought around. (The sign was thereupon removed from the courthouse wall.)


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