From dayton to dover: The legacy of the scopes trial

Peter Radan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


On 10 July 1925, in the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee, Judge John T. Raulston of the 18th Circuit Court called upon Reverend Cartwright to open the proceedings for the day with a prayer, a practice that was repeated at the start of proceedings on each day of the matter before the court. Reverend Cartwright duly called upon God to ‘grant unto every individual that share of wisdom that will enable them to go out from this session of the court with the consciousness of having under God and grace done the very best thing possible and the wisest thing possible’. And so began the case of State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes (Scopes Trial). Scopes, a teacher at Rhea County High School, appeared before the court charged with breaching section 1 of Tennessee's so-called Butler Act. This Act, adopted in March 1925, prohibited the teaching, in Tennessee's public educational institutions, of ‘any theory that denie[d] the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and [the teaching] that man … descended from a lower order of animals’. The Scopes Trial was the first case in which the teaching of evolution in American public schools was brought before the courts. A number of cases followed in subsequent years. There is every indication that this stream of litigation will continue into the future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw and Religion in Theoretical and Historical Context
EditorsPeter Cane, Carolyn Evans, Zoë Robinson
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK; New York
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9780511493843
ISBN (Print)9780521425902
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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