Malone's Trial Speech

Head Note: Dudley Field Malone was a New York attorney who was on the defense team. He argued for the importance of teaching science. Though the local Tennesseans viewed Malone with suspicion, the force and passion of this speech surprisingly lifted the audience to its feet.

What is the issue that has gained the attention, not only of the American people, but people everywhere? Is it a mere technical question as to whether the defendant Scopes taught the paragraph in the book of science? You think, your Honor, that the News Association in London [is here] because the issue is whether John Scopes taught a couple of paragraphs out of his book? Oh, no. . . .

The least that this generation can do, your Honor, is to give the next generation all the facts, all the available data, all the theories, all the information that learning, that study, that observation has produced—give it to the children in the hope of heaven that they will make a better world of this than we have been able to make it. We have just had a war with twenty million dead. Civilization is not so proud of the work of the adults. Civilization need not be so proud of what the grown-ups have done. For God’s sake let the children have their minds kept open—close no doors to their knowledge; shut no door from them. Make the distinction between theology and science. Let them have both. Let them both be taught. Let them both live. . . .

We feel we stand with progress. We feel we stand with science. We feel we stand with intelligence. We feel we stand with fundamental freedom in America. We are not afraid. Where is the fear? We meet it! Where is the fear? We defy it!

(Profound and continued applause.)

(The bailiff raps for order.)

Source: Excerpt from Dudley Field Malone’s speech on the fourth day of the Scopes trial, July 15, 1925. Dayton, Tennessee.