Scopes, John T. and James Presley. Center of the Storm: Memoirs of John T. Scopes. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967.
3 Clarence Darrow spent his life arguing—teaching, really—that a man is the sum of his heredity and his environment. He thought that my life, as well as his, was a powerful Exhibit A in proof of that thesis, and I think he was right.
4 if men like Clarence Darrow had not come to my aid and had not dramatized the case to a responsive world, freedom would have lost.
46 The fundamentalists had an inalienable right to believe what they did, but when they insisted that others hold those beliefs too, they were violating other people’s rights. . . It was a specific example of the universal conflict of the narrow-minded and the intolerant against the broad-minded and the tolerant; it can be seen in all lands, in all ages.
60 I said, “If you can prove that I’ve taught evolution, and that I can qualify as a defendant, then I’ll be willing to stand trial.” “You filled in as a biology teacher, didn’t you?” Robinson said. “Yes,” I nodded. “When Mr. Ferguson was sick.” “Well, you taught biology then. Didn’t you cover evolution?” “We reviewed for final exams, as best I remember.” To tell the truth, I wasn’t sure I had taught evolution.
66 Day by day, our chances of having a quiet, strictly legalistic test of the Butler Act began to dwindle. H. L. Mencken, the biting social commentator of the Baltimore Sun and editor of the American Mercury, got hold of the story and labeled it the Monkey Trial, a label that was to stick. More significantly, on May 13 in Pittsburgh, my old friend William Jennings Bryan agreed to represent the World’s Christian Fundamentalist Association at the trial.
77 From the beginning to the end of the test case Ringling Brothers or Barnum and Bailey would have been pressed hard to produce more acts and sideshows and freaks than Dayton had.
86 Bryan, always a man of remarkable appetite, had a diabetic condition and carried his own saccharin with him. He also declined bread as well as sugar, explaining he was on a diet and couldn’t eat sugar or starches. Never a hearty eater myself, I had not finished half my meal by the time everyone else was nearly through. I had eaten only the meat; I hadn’t touched the corn and the mashed potatoes. Bryan glanced at me. “John, are you going to eat your side dishes?” “No, Mr. Bryan.” I passed the corn and potatoes to him, and he devoured them in addition to what had already been a very large meal. The incident was a good tip-off to Bryan’s scientific knowledge.
87 Bryan says “If evolution wins, Christianity goes.”
88 Later, Bryan contributed to the raucous atmosphere that he had at first helped to tone down. He had a truck, equipped with a loudspeaker, going about town touting Florida real estate. It was the first loudspeaker I had ever seen. Bryan kept busy, managing to fight the evolutionists and sell real estate at the same time, without any apparent conflict.
93 In a way it was Mencken’s show.
94 I met Mencken, but I never knew him well. I knew him best from his writings, with which I had become acquainted before the trial. I was more impressed personally by Frank Kent of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters. I had the feeling that Mencken would have been more at home with the Hearts papers than with the Sun. He was a sensationalist.
100 The sweetheart love of Jesus Christ and Paradise Street is at hand. Do you want to be a sweet angel? Forty days of prayer. Itemize your sins and iniquities for eternal life. If you come clean, God will talk back to you in voice.
The voice at Dayton was an echo from the Tower of Babel.
102 A man trying to maintain and absolutely serious attitude throughout the Dayton trial would have jeopardized his sanity.
110 If a dramatist with a keen ear for dialogue and a rapid imagination had tried to write a script, he couldn’t have outdone the Dayton trial. As soon as it opened that morning, it created friction. Every sentence was pointed and loaded with conflict. Even the inevitable prayer with which court was opened had the lawyers haggling.
127 Again, as in his long political career, fate conspired against Bryan. True enough, he would have his moment in court, but the triumph would be so short-lived as to be forgotten.
144 Bryan sometimes stumbled; he was not the Bryan of old, the one I had heard back in Salem. His mind was not sharp as I remembered it; still, most of the old fire was there. He was the politician, the Chatauqua speaker, above all else. During his oration he became so intent upon talking to the people that he faced the audience, forgetting the court, and had his back to the bench!
156 Malone’s words, read today, seem dry and uninspiring; delivered in full heat of battle in that stuffed and hot Dayton courthouse forty years ago, they were as electric as the emotions that had precipitated the evolution controversy in the first place. His reply to Bryan was the most dramatic event I have attended in my life.
161 That weekend, the tussle between Bryan and Darrow continued. Each man issued statements, Bryan saying that the Butler Act was constitutional and Darrow replying that “Bryan has not dared to test his views in open court under oath. . . . Bryan, who blew the loud trumpet calling for a ‘battle to death,’ has fled from the field, his forces disorganized and his pretensions exposed.” Bryan replied hotly, referring to Darrow and to me and my passionate devotion to the doctrine that gave me “a jungle ancestry.” Evolution was “a doctrine that strikes at the root not only of Christianity but of civilization.”
166 Tom Stewart, fast on the trigger, objected and gave the judge his cue. Raulston probably would have ruled with Stewart, had Bryan himself not been on his feet, demanding his right to testify. Bryan was defiant; he had lost face because of Malone’s speech; so he wanted to be David and kill the giant Goliath, now named Darrow.
178 These were astonishing answers. When Bryan admitted the earth had not been made in six days of twenty-four hours, the Fundamentalists gasped. . . . It seemed incredible that William Jennings Bryan, the Fundamentalist knight on the white charger, had betrayed his cause by admitting to the agnostic Darrow that the world hadn’t been made in six days! It was the great shock that Darrow had been laboring for all afternoon.
181 The truth appeared that Bryan’s followers more Fundamentalistic than he, but he had never taken the trouble to disagree with them at least on this point of theology. Darrow made him face his contradictions in open court.
184 That night Tom Stewart apparently shattered Bryan’s hopes of putting Darrow on the stand by convincing him that the case from then on would be a lawsuit, with no examination on either side.
186 There was no closing argument for the defense. Darrow’s strategy had been to waive final arguments and submit the case to the jury in order to cut off Bryan’s indented speech he had been waiting all along to deliver.
209 Time erodes all men.
The man who died at Dayton was a poor copy of the vigorous, sterling William Jennings Bryan who electrified the Democratic convention of 1896 in Chicago with his Cross of Gold speech, with it winning the Presidential nomination. And perhaps the greatest tragedy of his life was not that so many goals eluded him but that he was misplace in time. Byran, it seems to me, was born at least a half-century too soon, before the age of TV when he could have projected his personality to millions.
210 I’ve seen no one else like Bryan. . . . Bryan was the Compleat Orator; his cadence, intonation, and gestures were exactly right for each occasion. . . . Most of all, he engaged his listeners’ emotions; each person within range of his magnificent voice became involved in what Bryan was saying.
214 In his time Bryan had been a symbol of the progress he had come to Dayton to stifle. He had fought for women’s suffrage, free silver, independence for the Philippines, and the income tax. On these issues he had earned his way as a national hero. Toward the end of his career he had concentrated on less progressive issues. . . . Then he leaped on the forefront of the anti-evolution crusade and became a symbol of Fundamentalism.