Eyewitness Reports in History Scopes Monkey Trial Part 2

An eyewitness account of the famous Scopes Monkey trial in American history that pitted evolution versus creation.

The Scopes Trial

During the second weekend recess, many of those who had come to gawk returned to their homes. The spectacular event they wished to see was not exploding the way they had assumed it would. But when the trial resumed, an assistant attorney for the defense surprised the audience by calling William Jennings Bryan to the witness stand. Prosecutor Stewart jumped to his feet and vigorously objected. Bryan, however, stood up slowly and dramatically announced that he was willing to take the stand in defense of the true faith and against all agnostics and infidels.

Answering Darrow's questions, Bryan attempted to defend the Bible as literal history. When Darrow asked if he believed that the first woman was Eve and that she was literally created from Adam's rib, he answered yes. Then Darrow asked, "Did you ever discover where Cain got his wife?" and Bryan answered, "No, sir; I leave the agnostics to hunt for her." Then Darrow asked if Bryan believed the sun was created on the fourth day, and Bryan said he did, but added, "I do not think it necessarily means a 24-hour day." He eventually conceded that the creation may have gone on for millions of years. Bryan also admitted knowing nothing of ancient civilization or other religions. In response to Darrow's question about the temptation of Eve by the Serpent, he replied, "I will believe just what the Bible says. Read the Bible and I will answer."

Following the grueling examination during which Darrow made a shambles of Bryan's Fundamentalist beliefs, the "Great Commoner" prepared a long oration to deliver in summing up the prosecution's case. He wanted to save face, for he had come off badly during the questions and answers. But Darrow and the defense decided against making a final summation, thereby taking the opportunity away from Bryan.

Since the defense never denied that Scopes had taught the doctrine of evolution, it wasn't surprised when the defendant was found guilty. The judge fined the teacher $100. The verdict was reversed on appeal, on a technicality.

Eyewitness Report: The great journalist H. L. Mencken covered the Scopes trial for the Baltimore Evening Sun. On July 21,1925, he wrote: "At last it has happened. After days of ineffective argument and legal quibbling, with speeches that merely skirted the edges of the matter which everyone wanted discussed in this Scopes antievolution trial, William Jennings Bryan, fundamentalist, and Clarence Darrow, agnostic and pleader of unpopular causes, locked horns today under the most remarkable circumstances ever known to American court procedure.....

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