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U.S. History & Government 11R
Mr. Gallucci THE SCOPES TRIAL
Directions: The 1925 Scopes trial pitted defense attorney Clarence Darrow against special prosecutor
William Jennings Bryan. Called as a defense witness, Bryan answered a blistering volley of questions
fired at him by Darrow. Read the excerpt below and answer the questions that follow.
William Jennings Bryan
Attorney General A. Thomas Stewart
DARROW: Mr. Bryan, could you tell me how old the earth is? BRYAN: No, sir; I couldn’t. DARROW: Could you come anywhere near it? BRYAN: I wouldn’t attempt to. I could possibly come as near as the scientists do, but I had rather be more
accurate before I give a guess… DARROW: Have you any idea how far back the glacial age was? BRYAN: No, sir. DARROW: Do you know whether it was more than six thousand years ago? BRYAN: I think it was more than six thousand years. DARROW: Have you any idea how old the earth is? BRYAN: No. DARROW: The book you have introduced in evidence tells you, doesn’t it? [Darrow holds up a copy of the Bible] BRYAN: I don’t think it does, Mr. Darrow. DARROW: Let’s see whether it does. Is this the one? BRYAN: That is the one, I think. DARROW: It says, B.C. 4004? BRYAN: That is Bishop Usher’s calculation. DARROW: That is printed in the Bible you introduced? BRYAN: Yes, sir…. DARROW: Would you say the earth was only four thousand years old? BRYAN: Oh, no: I think it is much older than that. DARROW: How much? BRYAN: I couldn’t say DARROW: Do you say whether the Bible itself says it is older than that? BRYAN: I don’t think the Bible says itself whether it is older or not [long pause] DARROW: Do you think the earth was made in six days? BRYAN: Not six days of twenty-four hours. DARROW: Doesn’t [the Bible] say so? BRYAN: No, sir. STEWART: I want to impose another objection. What is the purpose of this examination? BRYAN: [pale and trembling, he rises, shaking his fists above his head] The purpose is to cast ridicule on
everybody who believes in the Bible, and I am perfectly willing that the world shall know that these
gentlemen have no other purpose that ridiculing every person who believes in the Bible! DARROW: We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the
United States, and you know it, and that is all. 1. Why would Bryan object to Darwin’s theory of evolution? 2. Explain the purpose of Darrow’s cross-examination of Bryan. 3. Which side – fundamentalist (Bryan’s) or the evolutionist (Darwin) – do you think prevailed?
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This note was uploaded on 05/13/2010 for the course USH US History taught by Professor Mize during the Spring '10 term at West Point.
- Spring '10