John Scopes Found Guilty for Teaching Evolution

John Scopes was an activist and a teacher.

In what was called the “Scopes Monkey Trial”, John was charged on May 5th, 1925 of teaching evolution in his Tennessee classroom. On July 21 he was found guilty and fined $100. The central argument in the case was the Butler Act, prohibiting that human evolution, or any Biblical account of origin could be taught.

Scopes verdict was overturned, but only because of a technicality. The Judge fined Scopes and not a jury.

The Butler Act was reprealed in 1967.

After eight days of trial, it took the jury only nine minutes to deliberate. Scopes was found guilty on July 21 and ordered to pay a US$100 fine (approximately $1,228 in 2010 when adjusted from 1925 for inflation). Raulston imposed the fine before Scopes was given an opportunity to say anything about why the court should not impose punishment upon him and after Neal brought the error to the judge's attention the defendant spoke for the first and only time in court:

Your honor, I feel that I have been convicted of violating an unjust statute. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way I can. Any other action would be in violation of my ideal of academic freedom — that is, to teach the truth as guaranteed in our constitution, of personal and religious freedom. I think the fine is unjus

On July 21, 1925, in the tiny rural town of Dayton, Tennessee, a 24-year-young high school teacher named John T. Scopes became a criminal at the conclusion of one of the most dramatic and publicized court cases in American history. He was convicted of violating a state law that prohibited the teaching of evolutionism in the state's public schools. The law, which had been enacted just four months earlier, provided that "it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any and all public schools 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." The law also provided that an offending teacher should be guilty of a criminal misdemeanor and fined between $100 and $500 for each offense.