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Sources

New York Times Article (Modified)

Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.

Head Note: The New York Times covered the Scopes trial extensively. Its editorials condemned the Butler Act and sided with the defense. As you read, think about how a newspaper from New York City portrayed a small Tennessee town. Dayton’s population in 1925 was 1,800.

Cranks and Freaks Flock to Dayton:
Strange Theories are Preached and Sung within Shadows of the Court House
Visitors for the Opening Day of the Scopes Trial are Mostly Tennessean Mountaineers.

Dayton, Tenn., July 10.

Tennessee came to Dayton today in overalls to attend the trial of John Scopes for the teaching of evolution. The Tennesseans came from mountain farms near Dayton, where work, usually begun at day light, had been deserted so that gaunt, tanned, toil-worn men and women and shy children might see William Jennings Bryan’s "duel to the death" with "enemies of the Bible."

They overflowed the crowded courtroom, onto the great lawn of the court house shaded by maples and newly planted with strange pipes, where one pressed a button and bent to drink water for relief from the sun.

They stood in groups under the trees, listening to evangelists, moved by the occasion to speak for the "Word." They listened to blind minstrels, who sang mountain hymns and promises of reward for the faithful, to other minstrels who sang of more worldly songs, and to a string quartet of negroes. They walked up and down hot, dusty Market Street, with its buildings hung with banners, and lined with soda-water, sandwich, and book stalls, as for a carnival. Religion and business had become strangely mixed.

Source: Excerpt from a front page New York Times article, “Cranks and Freaks Flock to Dayton.” July 11, 1925.