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Scopes Trial

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The Scopes Trial ("the Monkey Trial") was a famous 1925 trial in Tennessee over the teaching of evolution. The recently-passed Butler Act forbade the teaching of the evolution of man or any theory contrary to the Biblical account of creation. John Scopes, a substitute teacher, agreed to admit to teaching evolution in order to test the law. His objective was to shoot down the anti-evolution law by losing the trial and the appeal trial before the Tennessee Supreme Court, then appealing to a federal court and having the law declared unconstitutional. This intention failed because the ruling was reversed on a technicality by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Scopes' lawyer was Clarence Darrow, one of the prosecutors William Jennings Bryan.

The events of the trial later inspired the play Inherit the Wind, which used the personalities involved with the trial as well as the subject of evolution to criticize McCarthyism. Despite the fact that the authors made no claim to historical accuracy, Inherit the Wind has been used to teach the history of the Scopes Trial, leading to common misuderstandings and myths.

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