PUBLIC ACTS OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE PASSED BY THE SIXTY-FOURTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY 1925 CHAPTER NO. 27 House Bill No. 185 (By John Washington Butler) Passed March 13,1925 W.F. Barry, Speaker of the House of Representatives L.D. Hill, Speaker of the Senate Approved March 21, 1925 Austin Peay, Governor. AN ACT prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution theory in all the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof. Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals. Section 2. Be it further enacted, That any teacher found guilty of the violation of this Act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be fined not less than One Hundred Dollars nor more than than Five Hundred Dollars for each offense. Section 3. Be it further enacted, That this Act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it. (Normals were teacher training colleges.)
The Act passed through the two houses of the Tennessee legislature with massive majorities. ◦ In the House of Representatives it sailed through on a vote of 75 'for' and only 5 'against'. ◦ The Senate, after a great deal of public discussion and a spirited three hour debate, passed the Act by a majority of 24 votes to 6.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) were already aware that the Act was likely to become law because it had been passed by the lower house of the Tennessee legislature by a landslide (in January, 1925). After a few false starts, the ACLU sent a press release to several Tennessee newspapers, such as the Chattanooga Daily Times, announcing that they would provide legal assistance, etc. for a school teacher in Tennessee who would be willing to stand trial for having taught evolution in a public school so that a test case could be mounted to challenge the constitutional validity of the Act. From their point of view this was certainly not a lone event. Rather it was part of a wide-ranging campaign to banish the teaching of evolutionist ideas from America's classrooms.
Having gained tacit agreement for his plan, Rappelyea then went on to recruit John Scopes as the 'sacrificial lamb'. According to Scopes, Rappelyea arranged a meeting at Robinson's drug store where the conversation went something like this: Rappelyea: John, we've been arguing and I said nobody could teach biology without teaching evolution Scopes: (pulling a textbook from a shelf of books on sale in the store) That's right Rappelyea: You've been teaching 'em this book? Scopes: So has every other teacher. Evolution is explained in Hunter's Civic Biology, and that's our textbook. Rappelyea: Then you've been violating the law. Would you be willing to stand for a test case? Let's take this thing to court and test the legality of it. I will swear out a warrant and have you arrested... That will make a big sensation. Why not bring a lot of doctors and preachers here?
After a certain amount of hesitation Scopes eventually agreed to the plan and Rappelyea sent a telegram to the ACLU to tell them that he'd found their man. Rappelyea also swore out a warrant against Scopes, who was actually arrested two days later, on May 7th, on the charge of having contravened the Butler Act. Scopes was immediately released on bail. A preliminary hearing on May 10th bound Scopes over pending a Grand Jury hearing on May 25th. The Grand Jury, who are well aware of the true purpose of the charge against Scopes, handed down an indictment and the trial date was set for July 10th. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs LC-B2- 6377-12 http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ggb2006013628/
John Scopes did not know if he had taught evolution or not because he was not a biology teacher. He was primarily a coach who taught some algebra, physics, and chemistry. He was subbing for the ill principal who was the actual biology teacher. His degree was actually in law Scopes was charged with having taught evolution on April 24th, 1925. A preliminary hearing on May 9th bound him over pending a specially convened Grand Jury hearing on May 25th. The members of the Grand Jury, who were well aware of the true purpose of the charge against Scopes, handed down an indictment and Scopes was instructed to present himself at the Rhea County court house for trial on the morning of July 10th. At no time was Scopes held in jail on this charge which, by the way, was only classed as a "misdemeanor", not a "felony."
The publicity surrounding the case quickly drew three- times presidential candidate and arch anti-evolutionist William Jennings Bryan to offer his services to the prosecution team. Bryan was accepted as one of several assistant prosecutors, and not as "the" prosecuting counsel. This in turn induced leading Chicago attorney, and arch atheist Clarence Darrow to offer his services - pro bono – as defense counsel, which pleased Scopes, but not the ACLU. Picture: Darrow on the left, Bryan on the right. http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTllNtCE9SPkbI5PQDBg0hVCwLtAeT0cPgE4gTN edJMGnX5M7B7
Many discussions of the Scopes "Monkey" Trial claim that the judge refused to allow the expert witnesses to present their evidence. Which isn't really true. In fact he allowed one expert - Dr. Maynard Metcalf - to give evidence in person before ruling that such evidence was irrelevant because the indictment related to whether Scopes had taught evolution and not whether evolution clashed with the story of the creation of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis.
The defense argument was that if the theory of evolution did not clash with Genesis then Scopes had not violated the act. It was an interesting idea, but it really didn't have a leg to stand on given that most if not all of the experts rejected the notion that humans were the result of an act of special creation - and therefore whatever their personal views on evolution might be, they most certainly did contradict the account in Genesis.
The Darwin Club Rea Irvin, artist, March 18, 1915. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2009616892/ Literary Digest, July 25, 1925. http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/mmh/clash/Scopes/IndexImages/Images/juryandjudge.jpg
Hunter’s Civic Biology, 1915, pages 192-195 Tennessee’s Biology book was Hunter’s Civic Biology, published in 1915. The following link goes to a website maintained by University of Missouri – Kansas City. http://www.law.umkc.edu/ faculty/projects/ftrials/sco pes/scopes.htm http://www.law.umkc.edu/ faculty/projects/ftrials/sco pes/scopes.htm