John Scopes and George Rappleyea in NYC to Find Scientists to Testify Hot

John T. Scopes visits New York City with George W. Rappleyea, one of the civic leaders of Dayton, Tennessee, to find scientists who will testify in his legal case. Scopes has been charged with violating the Butler Act by teaching evolution in public school.

Scopes is also growing dissatisfied with the way his case is being used by people like Rappleyea as a means for getting publicity for Dayton — which was, of course, the reason why the case was created in the first place.

John Scopes tells and interviewer:

"Of course I'll stick and fight this thing through to the finish, not what I'm in it, but I'll be pleased to go back to my old home in Paducah, Kentucky, when it is all over so that I can continue my studies in college.

I'm just a year out of Kentucky university and I realize I don't know much about these scientific theories. I'm going to leave most of the battle up to any scientists I line up here, and my attorneys.

I was getting along all right down in Dayton until that day they got to arguing the Tennessee evolution law in F.E. Robinson's drug store, where the fellows meet and talk.

They called me in and made me the goat of the test case.…

At first the business men saw the financial possibilities of having the trial here. They held a luncheon and invited me to attend. I guess I looked like ready money to them.

The merchants planned to canvass the town for rooms so that everybody wold be accommodated. The crowd would bring thousands of dollars, they argued. The whole thing disgusted me!

I told them that was poor Southern hospitality and their town would get much better advertising if all the merchants would give any visitors during the trial a square deal. Now they are coming around to this viewpoint."

Nevertheless, he does think that the case raises important issues, whatever the motivations of some who are involved:

"Being a goat is not so unpleasant. If you are going to be a goat you want to take thought as to whether you are to be a big goat or a little one. I really and truly think this is a fight for freedom of thought."

Despite the fact that the case was created for the sake of getting publicity and business, there are still people in the area against the prospect of anyone teaching evolution for any reason. And Scopes has felt some danger because of this:

"I was taught the theory in college that all life originated from a single cell and that is the theory that I taught my pupils. Somebody started the story that I was teaching the pupils that everybody descended from a monkey. Then some of the wild ones wanted to string me up.

One of the jurors that voted to indict me actually suggested that. Tennessee folks will convict me because everyone down there believes in hell fire and brimstone. But my pupils are all with me. The radicals are the ones that caused all the trouble."

Video

Scopes Trial Footage

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