Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Scopes "Monkey" Trial ... behind the scenes (Part 3)

The bizarre nature of the Scopes Trial, which was documented so well by Edward J. Larson in his book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, seemed to follow some of the main participants after the proceedings.

  • Only five days after the trial, prosecution team member William Jennings Bryan was in Dayton, Tennessee. He died in his sleep as he napped on a Sunday afternoon, about a year before the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled on the appeal of John Scopes’ conviction. Bryan was 65 at death.
  • Defense team member Clarence Darrow retired from full-time practice after the Scopes Trial, but later suffered financial difficulties as a result of the Depression.  Needing money, he came out of retirement in 1932 to defend a group of Anglo-Americans charged with the murder of a Japanese-American in Hawaii’s infamous Massie Trial (see David E. Stanner’s book Honor Killing: How the Infamous "Massie Affair" Transformed Hawai'i), which became national news much in the tradition of the Scopes Trial. Darrow was 80 when he died in 1938.
  • John Scopes, the accused, gave up teaching soon after the trial. He then studied geology at the University of Chicago before taking a job with an oil company in Venezuela. He returned to the U.S. years later, working at a Louisiana refinery. He was 70 when he died in 1970.
  • George Rappleyea, the businessman who engineered the trial as a publicity/economic development stunt, later became vice president of the boat company that designed and built innovative landing craft that put Allied troops on enemy beaches during World War II. Later, in 1948, he served one year in prison for violating federal firearms laws in an attempt to ship weapons and ammunition to British Honduras. In the early 1950s, he reportedly developed and promoted “Plasmofalt,” a construction material composed of molasses, sand, and plastic, which was featured in Popular Mechanics magazine. Rappleyea was 72 when he died in 1966.

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