Today evolution is taught in public schools in America, but it has not always been that way. The legal battle that led to the teaching of evolution in public schools has been a very long one. Creationism was taught in public schools until the late 19th century. Following Darwin’s theories being introduced in 1859 many began to accept evolution during the 1860’s. This would continue in America until a flamboyant, Christian, lawyer named William Jennings Bryan campaigned against the teaching of evolution. Bryan found supporters very easily because of a grassroots movement in America following World War I; which was a vast change in society that led people towards a simpler and more religious lifestyle. This movement led several states to create laws banning the teaching of evolution in public schools. Bryan and his movement was of course opposed by many which led to the legal battles that have taken America from a non-evolution teaching society to the evolution teaching society it is today. In this paper I will discuss the first major court case that brought significant national attention to these laws.
The first major court case that brought significant attention to the laws banning the teaching of evolution in public schools is “The Scopes Trial” or “The Monkey Trial” in
Dayton, TN in 1925. This trial was the State of Tennessee vs John Thomas Scopes, who was a high school football coach that was also a substitute. Although this case would turn out to be more about Scopes breaking a law than the teaching of evolution in public schools; it was significant in bringing national attention to the laws.
After the state of Tennessee passed the Butler Act, which banned the teaching of anything that contradicted the idea of creationism from the Bible, there was a group of businessmen from Dayton, TN who felt they could bring business and attention to their small town thanks to the new law. They devised a plan to find a local teacher willing to...