John C. Spopes was charged with violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools.
Rhea County High School
Downtown Dayton, Tennessee, June 1925
In May 1925, Dayton civic leaders congregating at F.E. Robinson's Drugstore decided to challenge a new state statute prohibiting the teaching of evolution. They also had another motivation to hold the trial in Dayton - to revive the town's weak economy.
Rhea County Courthouse
Lead lawyer for the defense, Clarence Darrow wanted to test the legality of the Butler Act, a Tennessee law which outlawed the teaching by any state-funded educational establishment of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals."
George Rappleyea helped put the Butler Act to the test and was instrumental in convincing John T. Scopes to be the defendant in the "Monkey Trial."
Another historical footnote: Rappleyea also worked as a vice president for the Higgins Boat Company, which made the landing crafts Allied troops used to storm the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
George Rappleyea (left) and John Thomas Scopes (right),
Famed American newspaperman H.L. Mencken satirized the Scopes trial, which he reported on, naming it the "Monkey" trial.
William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow
Author of the Origin of Species
Darrow questions Bryan during the Scopes Trial
At one point during the trial, the heat became so extreme that Judge Raulston moved the court proceedings outdoors in the front of the Rhea County Courthouse.