Scopes Trial Photograph
1925, Smithsonian Institution Archives
A dramatic weeklong courtroom clash over the origins of mankind galvanized the nation
When defense lawyer Clarence Darrow squared off against politician and fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan, it was the theory of evolution that was contested. High-school teacher John T. Scopes was convicted after raising the theory in class—violating Tennessee state law. Although the state Supreme Court overturned his guilty verdict, Scopes left teaching for a profession grounded in evolutionary thinking: geology.