How was the Scopes trial more complicated than a simple debate between evolutionists and creationists? (Read each source below, then answer the questions in the notebook. Ask your teacher for an inquiry organizer worksheet to help you think about the ways that the sources support and contradict each other.)


READ: New York Times Article

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 Creeds and 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, gingham and black to attend the trial of John Thomas 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, where only the earliest comers found seats, onto the great lawn of the court house shaded by newly white-washed maples and newly planted with strange pipes, where one pressed a button and bent to drink for relief from the sun which beat down upon the village. . . .

They stood in groups under the trees, listening to volunteer and lay evangelists, moved by the occasion to speak for the "Word." The listened to blind minstrels, who sang mountain hymns and promises of reward for the weary and 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 squat one and two story buildings, hung with banners, as for a carnival in which religion and business had become strangely mixed, lined with soda-water, sandwich and book stalls.

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

USE THE NOTEBOOK (instructions):

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Sourcing: Consider a document's attribution (both its author and how the document came into being).

How does the New York Times regard the local Tennesseans?

Close Reading: Read carefully to consider what a source says and the language used to say it.

What evidence can you find that the New York Times regards the events as bizarre and interesting?

Contextualizing: Situate the document and events it reports in place and time.

What does this article suggest about why people came to Dayton to watch the trial?

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