In a previous post one year ago, entitled, H. L. Mencken: Is this your hero, New Atheists?, I accused H. L. Mencken (pictured left) of lying and character assassination, in his reporting on the 1925 Scopes trial. Specifically, I charged that Mencken knowingly and deliberately made false statements about William Jennings Bryan (pictured right), a three-time Democratic Presidential candidate and eloquent orator, whose passionate opposition to Darwinism led him to volunteer his services an assistant prosecutor during the Scopes trial. To accuse a highly respected author such as Mencken of slander is a very serious matter, and in today's post, I'm going to substantiate this charge. Mencken not only slandered Bryan; he also slandered the people of Dayton, Tennessee.
What motivated me to write this article was my discovery that a statement attributed to William Jennings Bryan by H. L. Mencken in The Baltimore Evening Sun (July 17, 1925) that man is not a mammal, was a complete fake. Bryan, as it turns out, never said any such thing. Mencken lied. Unfortunately for Bryan, Mencken's lie was widely repeated: it can be found in George Seldes' book, The Great Thoughts (Ballantine Books, Random House, New York, 1985, revised and updated, 1996), in Vincent Fitzgerald's biography, H. L. Mencken (Continuum Publishing Company, 1989; Mercer University Press, 2004), and at Positive Atheism's Big List of Scary Quotations, as well as about 50 other online Web sites. That discovery made me wonder what else in Mencken's reports was a lie. The short answer is: quite a lot. Mencken's mis-representations fall under nine main headings:
(i) lying about the key point at issue in the Scopes Trial (which was not the theory of evolution, but the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee's public high schools);
(ii) lying by omission about the biology textbook that was used in Tennessee's high schools at that time, Hunter's Civic Biology, (which didn't just present the factual evidence for evolution, but also advocated obnoxious ideas, including racism and eugenics);
(iii) lying about William Jennings Bryan's religious views (by presenting him as a Biblical literalist, when in fact he believed in an old Earth, was at least open to the possibility that animals had evolved, and only ruled out human evolution);
(iv) lying about what Bryan said at the Scopes trial (by falsely claiming that Bryan declared that "Man is not a mammal", when what he actually held was that man was an exceptional mammal);
(v) lying about Bryan's character (by unkindly depicting him as a petty, hate-filled character, when others who were present at the trial, including John Scopes himself, testified to his magnanimity, affability and pleasant personality);
(vi) lying about the extent of Bryan's learning (by maliciously portraying Bryan as a man who hated learning, despite the fact that he had obtained three university degrees - a B.A., an M.A., an LL.B. - and been awarded at least seven honorary doctorates, and had actually read Darwin's Origin of Species and Descent of Man);
(vii) lying about Bryan's political views (by describing Bryan as a pathetic old man looking back to the good old days, when in fact, Bryan was a progressive who espoused women's suffrage, as well as supporting the direct election of senators and a progressive income tax);
(viii) lying about the outcome of the Scopes trial (by portraying it as a crushing defeat for Bryan, when the trial transcript and other published accounts show that it was nothing of the sort); and
(ix) lying about the religious views of the people of Dayton, Tennessee (whom Mencken depicted as a bunch of yokels, flat-earthers and Biblical literalists, when in reality, a significant number of the townsfolk were Masons and Methodists, who did not espouse Biblical literalism).
I also unearthed several "bombshells" which severely undermined the credibility of H. L. Mencken's coverage of the Scopes trial.
First, I discovered that as a reporter, Mencken had previously fabricated whole articles out of thin air. Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, in her magisterial biography, Mencken: The American Iconoclast (Oxford University Press, 2005), relates that Mencken made up stories as a young cub reporter, and later on, in 1905, as the managing editor of the ailing Baltimore Herald. On May 28, 1905, Mencken decided to revive the circulation of his newspaper by concocting a front page story about the great battle which sealed Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese war, despite the fact that he, like most other American journalists, had absolutely no information about what had transpired during the battle: that would not be available for another two days. Mencken's journalistic "scoop" was successful: his newspaper sold lots of extra copies with its sensationalistic front page story, and Mencken never got exposed for his deceit. (Only many years later, when he wrote his memoirs, did Mencken acknowledge what he had done.) Given Mencken's prior track record of making up stories, I began to suspect that his reporting of the Scopes Trial contained a very large dollop of fiction. My suspicion was reinforced when I re-read Mencken's reports on the trial, and noticed that they said almost nothing about what actually happened in the trial courtroom, and were largely made up of amusing anecdotes about the town of Dayton, Tennessee, and the alleged antics of its inhabitants. Not once did Mencken quote the testimony of witnesses for either the prosecution or the defense, and not once did he quote the lawyers who interrogated these witnesses. I began to wonder why.
To make matters worse, I discovered that Mencken had actually perpetrated a hoax while he was in Dayton, reporting on the Scopes trial:
Aided by his friend, Edgar Lee Masters, Mencken attempted to perpetuate a hoax, distributing flyers for the Rev. Elmer Chubb. But the claim that Chubb would drink poison and speak in lost languages were ignored as commonplace by the people of Dayton, and only the Commonweal bit. ("Two Stories of the Scopes Trial: Legal and Journalistic Articulations of the Legitimacy of Science and Religion" by Lawrance M. Bernabo and Celeste Michelle Condit, in Popular Trials: Rhetoric, Mass Media, and the Law, edited by Robert Hariman, University of Alabama Press, 1990).
Second, I found out that Mencken had a long-standing animosity towards William Jennings Bryan: in his own words, "I was against Bryan the moment I heard of him." Mencken despised Bryan as a demagogue, and his reporting on Bryan's career displayed a consistent bias, dating from as far back as 1904, some twenty-one years before the Scopes trial. For Mencken, everything that Bryan did was self-serving, including even his principled decision to resign on June 9, 1915 from his post as Secretary of State in Woodrow Wilson's administration, in protest at what he saw as the Administration's steady move towards war with Germany. After Bryan's death, Mencken penned one of the most vituperative obituaries ever written, titled To Expose A Fool (The American Mercury, October 1925, pp. 158-160), in which he denounced Bryan as "a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without any shame or dignity," whose every political act was motivated by "ambition - the ambition of a common man to get his hand upon the collar of his superiors, or, failing that, to get his thumb into their eyes." Common sense would tell us to be wary of accepting statements from such a biased source, regarding a man whom he viewed as a personal enemy.
Third, I discovered that Mencken's own views on how evolution should be taught in schools were virtually the same as those of the modern-day Intelligent Design movement: he believed that the arguments in its favor should be presented to high-school students, along with the scientific objections to the theory. He believed that evolution should be taught not as a fact, but as a hypothesis accepted by most scientists. (Unlike Intelligent Design proponents, Mencken was so firmly convinced of the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution, that he believed intelligent students would readily recognize its truth, upon seeing the evidence presented before them.) But the views of the creationist William Jennings Bryan on the teaching of evolution were not so very different to Mencken's: he believed that the doctrine of the separation of Church and State precluded the teaching of the Genesis account, and he was also quite happy for the theory of evolution to be taught as a hypothesis in public schools. "Please note," he explained, "that the objection is not to teaching the evolutionary hypothesis as a hypothesis, but to the teaching of it as true or as a proven fact" (quoted in Edward Larson's Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion, Basic Books, New York, 1997, 2006, p. 47). This is hardly the kind of statement we would expect to hear from a narrow-minded or bigoted man - and yet Mencken, in his coverage of the Scopes trial, consistently depicted Bryan in this manner, belittling him as a "fundamentalist pope" (Mencken Declares Strictly Fair Trial Is Beyond Ken of Tennessee Fundamentalists, July 16, 1925), whose followers "believe, on the authority of Genesis, that the earth is flat and that witches still infest it" (Tennessee in the Frying Pan, July 20, 1925).
Fourth, I was surprised to find out that although Mencken assisted the defense case in its attempt to have the Butler Act (which prohibited the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee's public schools) overturned as unconstitutional, Mencken actually agreed with Bryan that the people of Tennessee had the right to set the science curriculum for government-funded schools, and that teachers should follow it. Thus in his column for The Nation (July 1, 1925), shortly before the Scopes trial started, he scoffed at the notion that "the conviction of Professor Scopes will strike a deadly blow at enlightenment and bring down freedom to sorrow and shame," and argued that teachers in public high schools were merely pedagogues, who were paid to teach what the State tells them to. Mencken concluded that "no principle is at stake at Dayton save the principle that school teachers, like plumbers, should stick to the job that is set before them." Bryan himself could not have said it better. In his reporting for the Baltimore Evening Sun, however, Mencken refrained from expressing these views, casting himself instead as a defender of Enlightenment values and portraying Bryan as a spokesman for the ignorant masses.
Fifth, I learned that there really was a conspiracy by Mencken and other journalists to "get Bryan." I found that in the Scopes Trial, it was Mencken who had persuaded the defense lawyers that they should go after Bryan, with the aim of making him look ridiculous, instead of trying to defend Scopes. I also discovered that most of the trial reporters displayed a consistent bias against Bryan and fundamentalism, in their stories.
The dominance of ridicule as the primary mood and theme in the working press served to delegitimate the trial even before it began. Anticipating that Scopes would be found guilty, the working press fitted Scopes for martyrdom and assailed the proponents of "religion."...
The efforts at ridicule were widespread and colorful. Time's initial coverage of the trial focused on Scopes as "the fantastic cross between a circus and a holy war." Life shared the portrayal, adorning its masts with monkeys reading books, and proclaiming that "the whole matter is something to laugh about." Hosts of cartoonists added their own portrayals to the attack. Both Life and Literary Digest ran compilations of jokes and humorous observations garnered from newspapers around the country. Overwhelmingly, the butt of these jokes were those aligned with the prosecution: Bryan, the city of Dayton, the state of Tennessee, and the entire South, as well as Fundamentalist Christians and anti-evolutionists...
Delegitimation of the outcome of the trial was thus accomplished through a general ridicule of the trial. It was accompanied, however, by fairly strong ridicule of the location and agents of the trial. Attacks on Bryan were predictably frequent and nasty. For example, Life awarded Bryan its brass medal of the Fourth Class, for having "successfully demonstrated that by the alchemy of ignorance hot air may be transmuted into gold, and that the Bible is infallibly inspired except where it differs from him on the question of wine, women and wealth."
("Two Stories of the Scopes Trial: Legal and Journalistic Articulations of the Legitimacy of Science and Religion" by Lawrance M. Bernabo and Celeste Michelle Condit, in Popular Trials: Rhetoric, Mass Media, and the Law, edited by Robert Hariman, University of Alabama Press, 1990).
Bryan's racism and that of his wife
http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=olBfsqrRdYgC&pg=PT331&lpg=PT331&dq=%E2%80%9Cmarry+and+intermarry+until+the+stock+is+very+much+weakened.%E2%80%9D&source=bl&ots=GJ0qqrQg0N&sig=Z6f6qAYe6ZmfnqBXI3FPAo3RoDQ&hl=ja&sa=X&ei=bypfUpOfJszqlAWjgYGABw&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9Cmarry%20and%20intermarry%20until%20the%20stock%20is%20very%20much%20weakened.%E2%80%9D&f=false ("A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan" by Michael Kazin, a "secular liberal"; Random House, First Anchor Books edition, 2007)
Yet he almost certainly did not utter an ignorant line about Haitians that an American banker later attributed to him: "Dear me, think of it! N______ers speaking French."...
[Bryan] actively resisted a policy only as long as he was convinced that most Americans agreed with him, or might be persuaded to do so without risking a civil war or national chaos. On April 3, he told an anti-war congressman from Colorado that if he were respresenting a majority of pro-war constituents, "I would resign and leave them to speak through someone in harmony with their views." Now that the United States was officially, unalterably at war, Bryan could not imagine opposing it....
At the start of the new century he had declared, "The world needs the brain of woman as well as the brain of man, and even more does it need the conscience of woman." While in Lincoln, Mary had presided over a women's club that endorsed suffrage, and she no doubt encouraged her husband to do the same before any other major Democrat came to his senses.
In 1916, for the first time Bryan made votes for women a central part of his rhetoric...
What is more, Bryan wanted the government to advance the cause of sexual equality. In the spring of 1920, he wrote a remarkable article for Collier's in which he called for "a single moral standard." Now that women had the vote, Bryan reasoned, all forms of discrimination based on gender could and should be abolished. This included the most intimate terrain of all. Bryan proposed making the age of sexual consent the same for women and men and for enforcing antiprostitution laws against male clients as well as against ladies of the night. Champions of women's rights from Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Frances Willard to Emma Goldman had long demanded the same reforms. Now the best-known political evangelist in the land was taking their side... (Chapter 12)
In the memoir he began to draft in the early 1920s but never completed, Bryan paid tribute to his "good fortune." This included "being born in the greatest of all ages" when the "opportunity for large service" was abundant and "as a member of the greatest of all races, the Caucasian race" and "a citizen of the greatest of all lands" instead of among "the most backwards of earth's peoples."...
In September 1923 he gave a talk to the Southern Society of Washington D.C., explicitly endorsing segregation and restricting suffrage in any state with large numbers of black residents. Bryan also praised the superiority of laws made by whites, "the advanced race," to those black Americans might help make for themselves. Ironically, the great foe of Darwinism invoked "the right of self-preservation" to justify what he acknowledged was a departure from his egalitarian principles...
Bryan made it clear in a letter to Senator Thomas Walsh, a Catholic and a dry, that he deplored the Klan's hostility to other faiths, as well as its secrecy. But he was still a politician. Obeying the instinct of the species, he hated to condemn any group of activists who could further his purposes...
In one of those occasions that history inserts for comic relief, the main speaker at Scopes' graduation from Salem High School in 1919 was Bryan, the hometown hero. As the great orator began his address, the boy and some friends started giggling from the front row at a whisting sound he was accidentally making. Bryan "stared hard at us," Scopes recalled, and kept watch on the miscreants "even after he had his speech flowing freely again."...
In the months before Dayton, he had struggled to present his goal as a broadly ecumenical, even tolerant one. But the drafters of the Tennessee bill rejected his advice that they prohibit only the teaching of Darwinism "as true" and waive any penalty for violating the law...
Mary Bryan would have been happier if her husband had stayed away from this battle altogether. While in Dayton, she despatched "weekly bulletins" to her daughters, Ruth and Grace. Mary's shapr comments about the proceedings included none of the verbal charity her husband could dispense by the bucketful. The "mountain people" who flocked to Dayton for the spectacle were, she wrote, "both interresting(sic) and pathetic. They do not shave every day and the proper costume is a blue shirt, generally worn open at the neck, and a pair of blue overalls." The wife of America's leading foe of Darwinism thought so little of the crowd, most of whom admired her husband, that she scribbled a phrase that any eugenicist could applaud. How, she wondered, could "this mass of people ... have no real part in American life; marry and intermarry until the stock is very much weakened."
Media Perspectives on Intelligent Design and Evolution, by Mark Paxton (Greenwood, Santa Barbara, California, 2013). See pages 105- 106
Baltimore Sun (which had sent reporter H. L. Mencken to cover the trial) agreed to pay. The "Bill of Cost" for the Scopes trial totaled $343.87, of which $16.10 was charged to Rhea County. Scopes was billed for the rest, but he never paid. In his only statement to the court, Scopes said: "Your Honor, I feel that I have been convicted of violating an unjust statute. I will continue in the future, as I have in the past, to oppose this law in any way that I can. Any other action would be in violation of my idea of academic freedom... I believe the fine is unjust."
... Scopes hoped to complete a Ph.D., and in 1927 applied for a fellowship to fund his work (the scholarship money raised by the scientists and reporters from Dayton lasted only two years). However, the President of the University of Chicago responded to Scopes' application with a terse letter: "Your name has been removed from consideration for the fellowship. As far as I am concerned, you can take your atheistic marbles and play elsewhere." Realizing that he had to abandon his goal of teaching and turn to commercial work, Scopes was hired by Gulf Oil and sent to do fieldwork in northwest Venezuela near the city of Maracaibo. There, at a dance, Scopes met Mildred Walker, "a pretty brown-eyed brunette from South Carolina" (and fellow-employee of Gulf Oil). Walker, whose aunt thought that Scopes was "something with horns," married Scopes in a Catholic ceremony in February 1930, in Maracaibo. In 1933, Scopesm an agnostic, returned to Texas (and later to Louisiana) to work for Union Producing Company, a subsidiary of United Gas Corporation...
Scopes retired in 1963 and four years later published his memoirs, Center of the Storm: Memoirs of John T. Scopes....
In his book, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion (Basic Books, New York, 1997, 2006), Ed Larson describes the rapid spread of evolution restricting the teaching of evolution - especially human evolution - in public schools:
In 1921, Kentucky's Baptist State Board of Missions passed a resolution calling for a state law against evolutionary teaching in the public schools. Bryan immediately adopted the idea. "The movement will sweep the country, and we will drive Darwinism from our schools," he wrote to the resolution's sponsor. Within the month he was on the spot in Lexington, addressing a joint session of the Kentucky legislature on the proposal. Bryan then spent the next month touring the state in support of such legislation, which lost by a single vote in the state House of Representatives.
The campaign for restrictive legislation quickly spread. Fundamentalist leader John Roach Straton began advocating anti-evolution legislation for his home state of New York in February of 1922. Frank Norris, pastor of the largest church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, soon took up the cause in Texas. Evangelist T.T. Martin carried the message throughout the South. By fall, William Bell Riley was offering to debate evolutionists on the issue as he traveled around the nation. "The whole country is seething on the evolution question," he reported to Bryan...
When the Kentucky anti-evolution bill died in 1922, opponents of evolutionary teaching had to wait until 1923 for their next shot. The legislatures of six different southern and border states actively considered anti-evolution proposals during the spring of 1923, but only two minor measures passed. Oklahoma added a rider to its public school textbook law providing "that no copyright shall be purchased, nor textbook adopted that teaches the 'Materialistic Conception of History' (i.e.) the Darwin Theory of Creation versus the Bible Account of Creation." The Florida legislature chimed in with a non-binding resolution declaring "that it is improper and subversive to the best interest of the people" for public school teachers "to teach as true Darwinism or any other hypothesis that links man in blood relationship to any form of lower life."
The Florida resolution was important because Bryan suggested its language, and later claimed that it reflected his views on the issue--with one significant exception. "Please note," he explained, "that the objection is not to teaching the evolutionary hypothesis as a hypothesis, but to the teaching of it as true or as a proven fact." Bryan agreed with the resolution's focus on human evolution. In his "Menace of Darwinism" speech, he conceded that "evolution in plant life and animal life up to the highest form of animal might, if there were proof of it, be admitted without raising a presumption that would compel us to give a brute origin to man. Bryan asked Florida legislators to outlaw such teaching, however, rather than simply denounce it as improper. But even on this point, the trusting Commoner added, "I do not think that there should be any penalty attached to the bill. We are not dealing with a criminal class." Legislators in Bryan's adopted state compromised by unanimously passing an advisory resolution, rather than a law, thereby avoiding any risk of a lawsuit over their action. Two years later, Tennessee legislators displayed less caution than their Florida counterparts, by opting for a criminal law on the subject, including a penalty provision, and applying it to all teaching about human evolution rather than solely to teaching it as true. This set the stage for the Scopes trial...
"Fundamentalism drew first blood in Tennessee today," a January 20, 1925, article in The Nashville Commercial-Appeal reported, "in the introduction of a bill in the Legislature by Senator [John A.] Shelton of Savannah to make it a felony to teach evolution in the public schools of the state." A day later, John W. Butler offered similar legislation in the House of Representatives. Butler was a little known Democratic farmer-legislator and Primitive Baptist lay leader. For him, public schools served to promote citizenship based on biblical concepts of morality. Driven by such reasoning, Butler proposed making it a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500, for a public school teacher "to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man had descended from a lower order of animal." The House passed the bill without amendments, 71 to five.
Tennessee's modernist clerics, although outnumbered by their fundamentalist counterparts, held influential pastorates in several cities, and joined in condemning the anti-evolution bill. Indeed, one liberal preacher gave lawmakers such a tongue-lashing that, after a newspaper reprinted his comments, the House took the unusual step of passing a resolution denying them. Thirteen Nashville ministers expressed their opposition in a petition to the Senate. Chattanooga's leading liberal pastor, M.S. Freeman, began a widely publicized series of sermons by criticizing the proposed statute: "I believe that such laws emanate from a false conception that our Christian faith needs to be sheltered behind bars." Modernist leader R.T. Vann, who played a lead role in opposing anti-evolution legislation in North Carolina, delivered an address in Memphis on the need for academic freedom in science education.
The Evolution Controversy by George E. Webb, University Press of Kentucky, 1994, page 73 ff.
The most intense early activity aimed toward a legislative solution to the perceived problems associated with teaching evolution in public schools took place in Kentucky. Agitation in this state for antievolutionist activity had been evident as early as 1917, but it was not until the spring of 1921 that concerted efforts appeared in the form of a series of twenty-two antievolution meetings organized by William Bell Riley. Such activities attracted much attention and helped to mobilize public antievolution sentiment...
Although Kentucky Baptist leaders kept the issue in front of the public until late 1921, the arrival of William Jennings Bryan in January 1922 galvanized the campaign. Repeating his charges that teachers supported by public taxes should not be permitted to teach what the public did not want and that evolution represented no more than speculation, Bryan addressed local groups and a joint session of the legislature in his efforts to gain widespread support for the legislation. When added to the actions of other Kentucky antievolutionists, Bryan's speeches proved quite effective.
During the last week in January, antievolution bills were introduced in both the House and the Senate, calling for fines and/or imprisonment for any teacher convicted of teaching "Darwinism, Atheism, agnosticism or evolution as it pertains to the origin of man" (House Bill 191) or "any theory of evolution that derives man from the brute, or any lower form of life, or that eliminates God as the Creator of man by a direct creative act" (Senate Bill 136). The introduction of these bills led to significant action on the part of University of Kentucky President Frank L. McVey, who co-operated with state newspapers opposed to such legislation and organized a successful campaign to secure support from educational leaders throughout the United States... McVey's conciliatory tone and the support he gained from national colleagues and state newspapers helped to defeat the antievolution bills in Kentucky...
The defeat of the Kentucky legislation did little to challenge the growing interest in prohibiting the teaching of evolution in thge United States. Bryan and other antievolution leaders continued to travel around the country attempting to establish support for legislative campaigns to outlaw the suspect theory. During the fall of 1922 and the spring of 1923 Bryan participated in such activities in Minnesota, West Virginia, and his recently adopted home state of Florida. Although none of these efforts resulted in antievolution statutes, the national scope of the movement had been clearly established. Events in Oklahoma provided the crusade with its first victory... When the legislative session opened early in 1923, lawmakers added a rider to a free textbook bill that prohibited the use of any textbook that advocated "a materialistic conception of history, that is the Darwin theory of evolution versus the Bible theory of creation." Passed overwhelmingly by the House, the rider survived the Senate by only four votes....
For reasons that had nothing to do with the antievolution rider, the Oklahoma bill was repealed two years later. Yet the immediate impact of the first successful antievolution legislation was evident in increased activity throughout the nation. Texas legislators considered a bill during the spring of 1923 both to prohibit the teaching of evolution and to censor texts that included discussions of the theory. During the debates on the bill, it became clear that the most convincing argument emphasized that a majority of Texans did not want evolution to be taught in the state's schools... Despite such arguments, the Texas legislature could not agree on the antievolution legislation. The House passed it easily by a vote of seventy-one to thirty-four, but the bill died in the Senate. Similar campaigns over the next few months in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama proved no more successful...
Although the focus of the early antievolution campaigns tended to be on states in the South, other areas of the nation, particularly the West, participated... [T]he Utah legislature examined public education closely in 1921 and again in 1925. An act passed in early 1921 prohibited atheistic or religious doctrines from being taught in the public schools. Four years later the legislature extended this law to include state-supported colleges and universities. Neither specifically mentioned the teaching of evolution, at least in part because the Mormon Church had taken no official position on the topic...
The antievolution controversy in the West became more heated during the mid-1920s. Among the earliest public clashes was the debate that smoldered in Tucson, Arizona, in early 1924...
California's engagement with the evolution controversy was relatively uneventful during the early 1920s. Responding to fundamentalist objections to teaching evolution as a "fact" in the public schools, the State Board of Education in 1924 directed teachers to present evolution "as a theory only."...
Fundamentalists realized that North Carolina represented an important battleground between the opposing forces. As a result, the early 1920s witnessed a large number of free-lance evangelists and spokesmen for national fundamentalist groups entering the state to encourage the opposition to modernism.... [Continue]
The article on William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), written for the PBS "Monkey Trial" series, makes the following observations:
As a young man, Bryan had been open-minded about the origins of man. But over the years he became convinced that Darwin's theory was responsible for much that was wrong with the modern world. "The Darwinian theory represents man as reaching his present perfection by the operation of the law of hate," Bryan said, "Evolution is the merciless law by which the strong crowd out and kill off the weak." He believed that the Bible countered this merciless law with "the law of love."...
Reporter H. L. Mencken came to Dayton expressly to "get Bryan." In daily reports to The Baltimore Sun Mencken mocked Bryan as an "old buzzard" and a "tinpot pope." "It is a tragedy indeed," he wrote, "to begin life as a hero and to end it as a buffoon."
The article on H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), written for the PBS "Monkey Trial" series, makes the following observations:
H. L. Mencken was responsible for suggesting to Clarence Darrow that he volunteer his services in the defense of John Scopes. Mencken hoped to witness a showdown between Darrow and prosecutor William Jennings Bryan. He wanted a front-row seat at an epic battle over science and religion. According to historian Kevin Tierney, "Mencken and Darrow really wanted in some sense to re-fight the Civil War. They were Northerners come down to tell the Southern yokels just how stupid they were."...
He was a coiner of terms. It was Mencken who first used the phrase "Bible Belt" and Mencken who dubbed the Scopes trial the "monkey trial."...
According to historian Paul Boyer, "Beneath Mencken's ridicule of the ignorant hayseeds of America was a very profound suspicion of Democracy itself. Mencken really believed that there was a small elite of educated and cultivated and intelligent human beings, and then there were the masses who were really ignorant and capable of nothing but being led and bamboozled."...
As the temperature inside and outside the courtroom soared, Mencken found an escape. He bragged to another reporter that he spent his evenings in an airy suite on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga with bootleg liquor and a fan blowing a cool breeze over a bathtub of ice.
In the third week of the trial, after Darrow lost his temper and insulted the judge, it appeared the show would soon be over. Reporters packed away their notepads and typewriters. Even H. L. Mencken left town. He would miss the most dramatic moment of the trial, when Clarence Darrow interrogated William Jennings Bryan before thousands of people on the courthouse lawn.
In his online article, Bryan the Progressive (Bryan Life, Fall 2011), Tom Davis writes:
Looking at causes he espoused, it is clear that he was interested in improving the lot of the common man, the vision of progressives of his day. Included in that list were the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Amendments to the Constitution (graduated income tax, direct election of senators, prohibition of liquor, woman suffrage), direct primaries and legislation, Federal Reserve Act, Federal Farm Loan Act, government regulations of railroads and telegraph/telephone, safety devices and pure food processing, government control of currency and banking, regulations regarding trusts and corporate monopolies, establishment of departments of health and education and labor, public regulation of political campaign contributions, workman's compensation, the minimum wage, the eight-hour day, tariff reform, promotion of public parks, defense of rights of minorities, antiimperialism, settling of international differences through arbitration, and support of legislation to provide for equal-time consideration of Darwinian evolution and Biblical creationism in the public schools (Cornelius)...
He made this position even more clear when he accepted his third presidential nomination. "In his speech he defined the paramount question of 1908: 'Shall the people rule?' All other issues, he proclaimed, formed only separate manifestations of this single question. 'Shall the people control their own government and use that government for the protection of their rights and for the promotion of their welfare?' he asked, 'or shall the representatives of predatory wealth prey upon a defenseless public, while the offenders secure immunity from subservient officials whom they raise to power by unscrupulous methods?'" (Cherny, 111)...
Perhaps it is the current understanding of the term "progressive" that gives modern conservatives such pause when considering The Great Commoner. It is important to remember that Bryan never lost his focus on the individual...
Bryan gave the best answer to this seeming contradiction when queried by a reporter in May 1925, about two months before his death:
"People often ask me why I can be a progressive in politics and a fundamentalist in religion. The answer is easy. Government is man made and therefore imperfect... If Christ is the final word, how may anyone be progressive in religion? I am satisfied with the God we have, with the Bible and with Christ" (qtd in Smith, 18).
Cherny, Robert W. A Righteous Cause: The Life of William Jennings Bryan. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1985.
Cornelius, R.M. "William Jennings Bryan, The Scopes Trial, and Inherit the Wind." Dayton, TN: Bryan College, 2008.
Koenig, Louis W. Bryan: A Political Biography of William Jennings Bryan. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1971.
Smith, Willard H. The Social and Religious Thought of William Jennings Bryan. Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1975.
In another essay, titled, Bryan: Man of Influence (Bryan Life, Spring 2011), Tom Davis writes:
Roosevelt saw Bryan "as the prototype of one who would rather be right than President. To Bryan, Roosevelt noted, 'political courage was not a virtue to be sought or attained, for it was an inherent part of the man. He chose his path not to win acclaim, but rather because that path appeared clear to him from his inmost beliefs. He did not have to dare to do what to him seemed right; he could not do otherwise'" (Koenig 11).
Sixth, I discovered an outrageous double standard in Mencken's treatment of different Christian denominations in his reporting on the Scopes trial: he selectively targeted Christian fundamentalists - especially their most articulate spokesman, Bryan - but refrained from criticizing the Catholic Church, America's largest Christian denomination (numbering about 17% of the population at that time), despite the fact that the Catholic Church's position on evolution and the miracles recorded in Genesis and the rest of the Bible was virtually the same as Bryan's. In a report for the Baltimore Evening Sun (June 15, 1925), Mencken had praised the "intelligent attitude" of the Catholic Church towards evolution, along with "[t]he Anglican, Orthodox, Greek and various other churches, including the Presbyterian," while at the same time heaping scorn on "evangelicals" as "Ku Klux Protestants," for their Biblical literalism. In his subsequent reporting on the Scopes trial, Mencken again and again referred to the people of Dayton, Tennessee as "fundamentalists," whose closed minds were "unable to comprehend dissent from its basic superstitions, or to grant any common honesty, or even any decency, to those who reject them." Mencken mocked the "fundamentalist rubbish" spouted by the prosecution in the Scopes trial, but reserved his most savage criticism for William Jennings Bryan, whom he mercilessly derided as a "fundamentalist pope" who "hates and fears" science, in his report of July 16, 1925. However, the evidence clearly shows that Bryan's position on evolution and on Biblical miracles (which Mencken deemed incompatible with modern science) was strikingly similar to that of the Catholic Church.
Age of the Earth
The records of the Scopes trial show that Bryan was an old-earth creationist who rejected the view that the days in Genesis were 24-hour days, declared that the Earth was "much older" than several thousand years, and even acknowledged that the creation "might have continued for millions of years." The Catholic Church left the age of the Earth an open question for the faithful: the Pontifical Biblical Commission, in its response on Genesis, dated 30 June 1909, stated that in the "designation and distinction of six days, with which the account of the first chapter of Genesis deals, the word "day" (dies) can be assumed either in its proper sense as a natural day, or in the improper sense of a certain space of time." On this topic, said the Commission, "there can be free disagreement among exegetes."
Animal and human evolution
While Bryan ridiculed the idea that all animals sprang from a common stock in his book, In His Image (Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1922, p. 103), he nevertheless allowed that "evolution in plant life and in animal life up to the highest form of animal might, if there were proof of it, be admitted without raising a presumption that would compel us to give a brute origin to man" (ibid., pp. 103-104). For Bryan, however, it was an essential part of Christian belief that man had been specially created in the image and likeness of God. This was virtually identical to the position of the Catholic Church at that time. In 1860, a meeting of German Catholic bishops at the Provincial Council of Cologne, which was convoked by Cardinal Joannes von Geissel, had left open the possibility that animals may have evolved naturally, while unequivocally condemning the hypothesis of a "spontaneous" (i.e., purely natural) evolution for the human body, and insisting that "our first parents were formed immediately by God." The decrees of the Council were subsequently recognized by the Holy See in 1861 and praised (but not officially promulgated) by Pope Pius IX in 1862. Subsequent Popes also upheld the special creation of man: in 1880, Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Arcanum on Christian marriage, alluded to "facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one: after He formed man from the slime of the earth on the sixth day of creation, and breathed into his face the breath of life, God willed to give him a female companion, whom He drew forth wondrously from the man's side as he slept." Under Pope Pius X, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, in its response on the book of Genesis on 30 June 1909, officially declared "the special creation of man," "the formation of the first woman from the first man," and "the transgression of the divine command" by "our first parents" through "the devil's persuasion under the guise of a serpent" to be facts, where "the literal and historical sense" of the Genesis narrative could not be called into question. It is true that special transformism, or the theory that God had supernaturally transformed the body of a human-like creature that had evolved naturally into the human body of Adam, was never officially excluded by the Church, but in 1925, it was still a very daring theological opinion - and in any case, it was incompatible with Darwinism, since it posited a miraculous intervention by God, when making the human body. In any case, the hypothesis of special transformism was not openly endorsed by any Catholic theologian until 1931, six years after the Scopes Trial, with the publication of Fr. Ernest Messenger's Evolution and Catholic Theology: The Problem of Man's Origin.
Again, as regards the story of the Flood in Genesis, there was little to distinguish Bryan's position from that of the Catholic Church: both insisted that at some point in history, there had been a universal Flood, of which Noah and his family in the Ark were the sole human survivors, but neither Bryan nor the Catholic Church accepted the literal chronology of Genesis. Bryan, in his testimony at the Scopes Trial, stated that he believed in a "literal interpretation" of the Flood story in Genesis, but explicitly rejected Archbishop Ussher's estimate of the date of the Flood at 2,348 B.C., declaring, "I would not say it is accurate." For its part, the Catholic Encyclopedia, in its 1908 article on the Deluge, insisted that the Flood "must have destroyed the whole human race" even if it did not cover the whole Earth, but declared that "there is nothing in the teaching of the Bible preventing us from assigning the Flood to a much earlier date than has usually been done."
Bryan was subjected to ridicule when cross-examined by Clarence Darrow, for upholding the historicity of the miracle in the book of Joshua, where the sun appeared to stand still in the sky. Bryan stated his belief that the Earth had stopped rotating at God's command, and that God, in his omnipotence, was perfectly capable of protecting the planet from any harmful consequences that might result if this were to happen. The Catholic Church took much the same view: as the Catholic Encyclopedia pointed out in its article on Joshua, "The Biblical Commission (15 Feb., 1909) has decreed the historicity of the primitive narrative of Genesis 1-3; a fortiori it will not tolerate that a Catholic deny the historicity of Josue [Joshua]. The chief objection of rationalists to the historical worth of the book is the almost overwhelming force of the miraculous therein; this objection has no worth to the Catholic exegete."
Finally, the Catholic Church, like Bryan, taught that Jonah was a real person, who had indeed been swallowed by either a whale or a great fish. As the Catholic Encyclopedia put it in its article on Jonah, "Catholics have always looked upon the Book of Jonah as a fact-narrative."
After having uncovered these six journalistic bombshells, I was left with a question. "Why hasn't Mencken's mendacity about the Scopes trial been publicly exposed?" I wondered.
The answer, it seems, is that Mencken is still regarded as a hero of free speech by the so-called "intelligentsia" and by the mainstream media. The official version of the Scopes trial is that Mencken was a Fearless Crusader for Truth and Justice in his reports for the Baltimore Evening Sun, and that William Jennings Bryan was an ignorant religious bigot. To overturn that version of events would mean admitting that the media had gotten it wrong, for 88 years.
A 2006 photo of Rhea County Courthouse, where the Scopes trial was held. Image courtesy of Wikipedia. The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1976. A $1-million restoration project was completed in 1979, which restored the second-floor courtroom to its original appearance during the Scopes trial.
The Scopes Trial, also known as the Monkey Trial, was a landmark American legal case in 1925 in which high school science teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach the evolution of man (but not animals) in any state-funded school. Scopes was found guilty, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality and he went free. The trial drew intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, to cover the case. One of these reporters was H. L. Mencken. As we'll see, Mencken was much more than just a reporter on the Scopes case: he took a very active role in helping the defense team to prepare its strategy, because he believed that the very future of American civilization was at stake.
Tennessee's Butler Act of 1925 wasn't the first of its kind. Four years previously, in 1921, southern state legislatures had begun introducing measures outlawing the teaching the theory of evolution in public schools. In 1923, Oklahoma passed an amendment to a free textbook law, which prohibited the adoption of any text advocating Darwin's theory over that of the Bible. That same year, the Florida legislature passed a resolution, whose wording reflected the influence of William Jennings Bryan, stating that it was "improper and subversive to the best interests of the people" for any public school teacher to teach "atheism or agnosticism or to teach as true Darwinism or any other hypothesis that links man in blood relationship to any other form of life." Kentucky passed its first official law restricting the teaching of evolution in 1924.
http://www.ucalgary.ca/hic/issues/vol1/3 - university cases
What motivated Butler to put forward his Act?
In his essay, Scopes trial (1925) by Michael Hannon explains how Butler came to oppose the teaching of evolution in public schools and universities:
Butler was a Macon County farmer and member of the Primitive Baptist Church. Butler became concerned about the theory of evolution in 1921 when a preacher told him of a young local woman who had attended a university and returned having lost her faith, now believing in evolution instead of God. This greatly alarmed Butler and he decided to run for the state legislature in order to fight the teaching of evolution in public schools.
The role of the ACLU in the Scopes trial
The Scopes trial was the case that put the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the map. The ACLU, which had been formed only five years before the trial, was still an obscure organization in 1925. It had been monitoring developments around the country, looking for violations of civil liberties. The ACLU was looking for legal battles that would give the organization a chance to gain national attention. When leaders of the ACLU learned that the state of Tennessee had passed the Butler Act, a law which prohibited the teaching of human evolution in public schools, they immediately saw that the Tennessee statute could provide an ideal test case for academic freedom. They wanted to challenge the law by taking a case to federal court and perhaps ultimately have the statute declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. The ACLU then advertised in Tennessee newspapers for someone who was willing to break the law and who would then receive legal support from the ACLU. The ACLU advertisement which appeared in the May 4, 1925 edition of the Chattanooga Times ran as follows:
We are looking for a Tennessee teacher who is willing to accept our services in testing this law in the courts. Our lawyers think a friendly test case can be arranged without costing a teacher his or her job. Distinguished counsel have volunteered their services. All we need now is a willing client.
George Rappleyea puts Dayton on the map
Photograph of George Washington Rappleyea taken one month before the Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial. From the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Image courtesy of Watson Davis and Wikipedia.
A 31-year-old chemical and mining engineer in Dayton, Tennessee, named George Rappleyea, saw the ACLU advertisement and declared that he was willing to challenge Tennessee's Butler Act. (In many accounts of the Scopes trial, Rappleyea's name is spelled as "Rappalyea." However, the spelling "Rappleyea" is used in the book The Great Monkey Trial by L. Sprague de Camp, who interviewed Rappleyea before his death.)
Rappleyea who was originally from New York, had grown up in a household with a Baptist father and a Catholic mother. After being bitten by a copperhead snake while surveying a Tennessee farm, Rappleyea decided to settle in Dayton in 1922. He married Ova Corvin, the nurse who tended to his snakebite. Ova's brother operated a grocery store in Dayton and helped land Rappleyea a job as manager of the bankrupt Cumberland Coal and Iron Company. Under his supervision, men cut up furnaces and mining machinery for scrap and, from time to time, dug a little coal.
Although he had not previously been a regular churchgoer, Rappleyea began attending a Methodist church in Dayton. The church's young modernist minister, Howard Byrd, convinced Rappleyea that evolution presented no conflict with Christianity, as properly understood. Byrd baptized Rappleyea and made him superintendant of the Sunday school at Five Points Methodist Episcopal Church.
There were several reasons that motivated Rappleyea to challenge the Butler Act. The first was that he was in agreement with the theory of evolution.
The second reason related to the funeral of an six-year-old boy, the son of one of his workers, who had been killed in the family Ford by the Southern Railroad's oncoming Royal Palm Express. The fundamentalist preacher, standing over the small coffin, told Rappleyea and other funeral attendees that the poor young boy was probably doomed to the "flames of hell" because he had never been baptized. After the service, Rappleyea upbraided the minister, accusing him of "torturing" the already anguished mother of the dead boy. The minister replied that couldn't "lie" for anybody; it was his "duty to preach the word of God." Rappleyea then retorted: "If your conscience won't let you think of anything that will bring a little comfort to that poor creature, shut up!" A few days later, when news came that the Butler Act had become law, Rappleyea, retelling the story said, "I made up my mind I'd show this same bunch, the Fundamentalists, to the world."
However, the most prominent reason motivating Rappleyea was an economic one: he recognized that the town of Dayton, Tennessee, could benefit economically from having what he knew would be a big trial, as it would generate publicity and tourism. Dayton was suffering economically: the Dayton Coal and Iron Company, which had employed hundreds of people at the turn of the century, had gone bankrupt in 1913, and the town's population had fallen from 3,000 to 1,800.
Rappleyea went to Robinson's Drugstore, which was located on the main street of Dayton. The drugstore was owned by Frank E. "Doc" Robinson, who was also the chairman of the Rhea County School Board. Robinson and School Superintendent Walter White were present in the store. Rappleyea brought the ACLU advertisement to Robinson's attention because he knew Robinson was also interested in generating publicity for Dayton. Both Robinson and White came to think Rappleyea had a good idea. Later, Rappleyea contacted the ACLU and confirmed that they would support a challenge to the Butler Act. The next day, Rappleyea went back to Robinson's Drugstore and met Doc Robinson. They brought the issue of challenging the Butler Act up with others there, including Mr. Brady, who ran the other Dayton drug store, Sue Hicks, a city attorney considered the "town's leading lawyer," and another attorney named Wallace Haggard.
Scopes agrees to be the defendant in the trial
Photograph of John Scopes taken one month before the Tennessee v. John T. Scopes Trial. From the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Image courtesy of Watson Davis and Wikipedia.
A 24-year-old, red-haired man named John Scopes had come to Dayton, Tennessee, in search of a job, after graduating from the University of Kentucky with an A.B. in June 1924. The man who had formerly served as Rhea County High School's principal, football coach, and algebra and physics teacher had suddenly resigned in late summer of that year, and the school advertised for a teacher who was qualified to teach the subjects he had taught. Scopes, who had a degree in Arts-Law with a minor in geology, applied for the vacancy, and was accepted for the position after passing the interview. Scopes joined the faculty of Rhea County Central High School in the fall of 1924. He taught algebra, chemistry, and physics at the school. He also served as a football coach. He was not, however, a regular teacher of biology.
The school's regular biology teacher, a Mr. W. F. Ferguson, fell ill for two weeks in April 1925. Scopes was asked to substitute for him. He taught his students about the various kingdoms of living things, and and on April 23, he told his students to read a chapter from the prescribed text, Hunter's Civic Biology, about evolution. However, Scopes was sick the next day, and never actually taught the subject.
Scopes had originally intended to leave Dayton in May 1925, at the end of the Rhea County school term. However, a a date "with a beautiful blonde" at an upcoming church social kept Scopes in Dayton for a few days beyond his originally scheduled departure. That decision would change his life. Scopes was playing tennis one hot afternoon on the town's tennis court when a small boy walked up to him and said, "You're wanted down at 'Doc' Robinson's drugstore."
At the drugstore, Scopes met up with local engineer George Rappleyea, as well as a few other town notables, including Walter White, Wallace Haggard, and Sue Hicks. Scopes was asked if he would be willing to stand trial for violating the Butler Act, which banned the teaching of human evolution, and when he was told that a trial would help the town of Dayton, he agreed to be charged with the crime, and then went back to his tennis game. Scopes was formally charged with violating the Butler Law on May 7.
Did Scopes teach the theory of evolution?
David Menton, in his essay, Inherit the Wind: A Hollywood History of the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey' Trial, dispels some widely accepted myths relating to John Scopes, revealing among other things that Scopes never actually taught the theory of evolution, and that Clarence Darrow coached the high school children testifying in the trial to commit perjury by saying that he had taught them:
No one intruded in John Scopes' classroom. Scopes was not a biology teacher. Scopes only filled in for two weeks near the end of the school year for the biology teacher, Mr. Ferguson, who was ill. Scopes didn't even have a college degree in science (he had an undergraduate major in law at the University of Kentucky). Scopes was hired to teach math and coach the football team. The team improved during the year under Scopes and he was generally well liked by the people of Rhea County. Prior to the trial, no one outside his school knew or cared what Scopes taught in school. Scopes maintained to his death in 1970 that he never taught evolution during the two weeks he substituted for the biology teacher but rather simply reviewed the students for their final exam. In Sprague de Camp's book, The Great Monkey Trial there is recorded a remarkable conversation between Scopes and reporter William K. Hutchinson of the International News Service which occurred during the last days of the trial. Scopes said:
"There's something I must tell you. It's worried me. I didn't violate the law ...I never taught that evolution lesson. I skipped it. I was doing something else the day I should have taught it, and I missed the whole lesson about Darwin and never did teach it. Those kids they put on the stand couldn't remember what I taught them three months ago. They were coached by the lawyers." "Honest, I've been scared all through the trial that the kids might remember I missed the lesson. I was afraid they'd get on the stand and say I hadn't taught it and then the whole trial would go blooey. If that happened they would run me out of town on a rail."
When Hutchinson replied that would make a great story, Scopes said:
"My god no! Not a word of it until the Supreme Court passes my appeal. My lawyers would kill me." (de Camp, page 432)
Hutchinson did claim he overheard Clarence Darrow coaching the students on what to say, but even with coaching, only one of the students clearly implied that Scopes taught evolution. There is clearly a more interesting story here than the public has been told: Clarence Darrow, who was presumably supposed to defend his client from a law that forbid the teaching of evolution, apparently coached his client’s students to perjure themselves by claiming that John Scopes taught evolution when in fact he hadn't!
A. C. Bradbury comments:
If this were the only evidence, we might be inclined to question whether it was just a reporter's fantasy. But it isn't the only evidence. A further account of the matter is in the public domain, again from Scopes himself, not as reported by an intermediary this time but in his own autobiography, Center of the Storm (1967). Referring to the initial conversation in the Dayton drugstore, Scopes remembered:
'I said, "If you can prove that I've taught evolution, and that I qualify as a defendant, then I'll be willing to stand trial."
"You filled in as a biology teacher, didn't you?" Robinson said.
"Yes," I nodded, "when Mr Ferguson was sick."
"Well you taught biology then. Didn't you cover evolution?"
"Well we reviewed for the final exams, as best I remember."
To tell the truth, I wasn't sure I had taught evolution. Robinson and the others apparently weren't concerned about this technicality. I had expressed willingness to stand trial. That was enough."
Scopes also stated that he had not violated the law to the wife of the Universalist minister Charles Francis Potter.
Well, that's straight from the horse's mouth. America's most famous trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow, got witnesses to perjure themselves. Robinson and the others apparently didn't care.
Dayton's Methodist Church members express their opposition to evolution; Rappleyea and the church minister resign
In late May, Rappleyea, in a speech to his Five Points Methodist Episcopal congregation, announced that — in view of his leading role in the upcoming trial - he intended to resign his position as superintendent of the Sunday School. Church members did not urge him to reconsider. Before the trial began, Rappleyea's own minister, Howard Byrd, also offered his resignation. Byrd became upset when church trustees told him they would "lock him out of his own church" if he followed through with his announced plan to let a Unitarian minister, Charles Francis Potter from New York, speak from the church pulpit on the subject of evolution. Urged to reconsider, Byrd refused saying, "No, not after this. I didn't know they were so narrow-minded."
How Bryan became involved in the Scopes trial
William Jennings Bryan and wife, New York, N.Y., 19 June, 1915. Image courtesy of Bain News Service and Wikipedia.
William Jennings Bryan was perhaps the most famous Democrat politician of his day. He had been nominated as Presidential candidate by the Democratic Party on no less than three occasions: in 1896 (when his famous "Cross of Gold" speech secured him acceptance at the young age of 36), in 1900 and in 1908. Despite losing his bid for the Presidency on all three occasions, Bryan went on to distinguish himself by serving as the 41st United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson, before falling out with Wilson over his decision to enter World War I. Bryan had originally trained as a lawyer, but his legal skills were rusty: he had not practiced for about thirty years prior to the Scopes trial, and he often addressed the jurors as "My friends." Nevertheless, he was a gifted speaker, who could hold an audience spellbound.
Bryan was a Democrat with progressive political views, who supported women's suffrage, a graduated income tax and the direct election of Senators. He was also a committed Christian, who believed in the infallibility of the Bible. Bryan freely acknowledged that there would have been nothing in principle to prevent God from using Darwinian evolution to make man if He had wished to do so, but he bowed to the final authority of Scripture on the matter: according to the account in Genesis 1, God had made every living creature "after its kind," culminating in the creation of man, in His image. Bryan also felt that Darwinism diminished God's creative role by pushing Him into the background, thereby weakening the religious faith of its scientific adherents.
From the available documentary evidence, it appears that William Jennings Bryan agreed to become involved in the Scopes trial because he was officially invited to. Bryan's autobiography, The Memoirs of William Jennings Bryan (completed posthumously by his wife Mary Baird Bryan) contains a reprinted letter from Sue Hicks of the Dayton prosecution team that shows Bryan was asked to join the prosecution. The letter, written on May 14, 1925, states in part:
We have been trying to get in touch with you by wire to ask you to become associated with us in the prosecution of the case of the State against J.T. Scopes . . . . We will consider it a great honor to have you with us in this prosecution. We will have no difficulty in obtaining the consent of the attorney general and the circuit judge for you to appear in the case. . . . we will send you a copy of the text book taught in the school and a copy of the statute under which we are prosecuting Scopes. (p. 483)
Why did Bryan agree to take part in the Scopes trial?
In his essay, Scopes Trial (1925), Michael Hannon summarizes the reasons which led Bryan to agree to become involved in the Scopes trial:
Deeply religious, Bryan became increasingly alarmed about the influence of Darwin's theory of evolution and its impact on students in public schools and society in general. Although the controversy between evolution and religion had been going on for decades, and Bryan had long been suspicious of the theory of evolution, it was not until 1904 that he publicly addressed Darwin's theory. But it would be almost another two decades before he became sufficiently concerned to make it a focus of his speaking and writing. In 1919, he gave a speech in Baltimore entitled "Back to God" in which he briefly discussed the threat posed by Darwin's theory, which elicited a positive reaction from his audience. A decisive event occurred in 1921 when he read a book published five years previously titled The Belief in God and Immortality, by James H. Leuba, a psychology professor. Leuba demonstrated that a college education greatly reduced the religious beliefs that students held before attending college. Leuba also noted that very few scientists believed in God. The belief that teaching the theory of evolution in schools undermined the religious faith of students made a powerful impact on Bryan and many others... (p. 7)
Another decisive factor that turned Bryan into an avowed opponent of Darwin's theory was the mass slaughter of World War I. Bryan deplored the massive loss of life that resulted from the war. Mystified as to how "supposedly Christian nations could engage in such a brutal war," Bryan found answers in two books which identified "misguided Darwinian thinking" as the problem. In Headquarters Nights, Vernon Kellogg, a well respected zoologist at Stanford University, described his experiences as a peace worker in post-war Germany during which he met German military leaders. First published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1917,
[Kellogg's work] made explicit the association of Darwinian theory, especially the depiction of nature as struggle, with German war ideology during World War I. Kellogg's anti-Darwinian and anti-German rhetoric influenced a number of biologists who sought to counteract the negative connotations of Darwinian theory.
(Gregg Mitman, Evolution as Gospel: William Patten, the Language of Democracy, and the Great War, 81. ISIS 446, 1990.)
In The Science of Power, the philosopher Benjamin Kidd explored how Darwin's theory influenced German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and how this was tied to German war making. Bryan came to believe that German militancy was the logical result of the application of Darwin’s theory of evolution to nation states. He saw Germany’s rise to military power and subsequent use of that power as driven by notions of the survival of the fittest, in which the strong would rule over or eliminate the weak by military force... (p. 8)
These factors were enough to convince Bryan that the theory of evolution was far more dangerous than he previously believed. In 1922 he composed a more complete criticism of the theory in his lecture "The Menace of Darwinism." Bryan later published this lecture and mailed thousands of copies around the country. Bryan’s distrust of the theory of evolution grew until he came to believe it to be the number one threat to America...
Especially galling to Bryan was the use of taxpayer dollars to support public institutions where a small cadre of elites taught evolution. As Bryan saw it, this doctrine denied the religious beliefs of millions of parents whose tax money was paying these same teachers' salaries. Bryan also thought it absolutely unfair that the theory of evolution was being taught to children who could not be taught about the Bible and religious beliefs... Bryan spoke for many taxpayers when he asked, "What right . . . has a little irresponsible oligarchy of self-styled intellectuals to demand control of the schools of the United States in which twenty-five millions [sic] of children are being educated at an annual expense of ten billions of dollars?" (p. 9)
Clarence Darrow and Dudley Malone offer their services to the defense team
Left: Clarence Darrow, in 1922. Image courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress and Wikipedia.
Right: Dudley Field Malone, ca. 1913. Image courtesy of U.S. Library of Congress and Wikipedia.
At the time, America's most famous trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow, had just announced his retirement at the age of 68. The previous year, Darrow's fame had soared after his successful defense of two cold-blooded killers, Leopold and Loeb, in which he saved them from the death penalty. Darrow was an outspoken man: he was an open agnostic and a fierce critic of organized religion. He was also a passionate admirer of science, and an ardent believer in Darwinian evolution. However, although he was a famous trial lawyer, Darrow was not a particularly well-educated man: he attended two colleges, but graduated from neither - unlike William Jennings Bryan, who earned three degrees of his own (a B.A., an M.A. and an LL.B.). Darrow was a keen Democrat, with progressive political views, who considered himself a champion of the underdog. As a young man, Darrow had actively supported Bryan in his presidential campaigns of 1896 and 1900. Later on, Darrow grew disaffected with Bryan because of his religious views, which he saw as impeding the cause of science, and he turned down an invitation to campaign for Bryan in his third (and final) bid for the presidency in 1908.
Notwithstanding his differences with Bryan in his later years, Darrow always acknowledged that Bryan was a powerful and eloquent speaker, with a gift for moving an audience. He had personally listened to Bryan deliver his "Cross of Gold" speech on 9 July 1896, at the Democratic Party National Convention in the Chicago Coliseum. That speech - which was arguably the most famous political speech in the history of the United States - won Bryan his party's nomination for President. Darrow later commented, "I have enjoyed a great many addresses, some of which I have delivered myself, but I never listened to one that affected and moved an audience as did that." Darrow himself was initially reluctant to get involved in the trial, but when he heard that William Jennings Bryan had volunteered to help the prosecution in the Scopes trial, he immediately volunteered to come out of retirement and help defend John Scopes. Darrow even agreed to work for the defense pro bono. Knowing Bryan's oratorical powers and fearing his ability to sway a jury, Darrow decided that Bryan had to be stopped at all costs.
Darrow was consulting an international divorce lawyer, Dudley Malone, when he heard about Bryan's decision to assist the prosecution in the Scopes trial. Malone had previously worked under Bryan as Undersecretary of State, during the Wilson Administration, and he still harbored some resentment against his old boss. Darrow and Malone sent off a joint telegram to the head of the defense team, John R. Neal, saying that they were willing "without fees or expenses" to help defend Scopes. They also released a copy to the press. Neal accepted their joint offer without consulting the ACLU.
It will surprise many readers to learn that the ACLU, which had initiated the court case challenging the Butler Act, actively fought to keep Clarence Darrow out of the Scopes trial, despite the fact that he was the most famous lawyer in the United States. Because Darrow was a well-known agnostic, the ACLU believed that he would generate bad publicity for the trial, and that his involvement would displease many of its liberal religious members. The ACLU also thought that Darrow's involvement would hinder the defense of John Scopes. But Scopes himself thought otherwise: he absolutely insisted on having Darrow on the defense team. Darrow and Scopes formed a close connection when they finally met, with Darrow becoming a kind of "father figure" for Scopes.
Who was who at the Scopes trial?
The judge at the trial was the Honorable J. T. (John Tate) Raulston, a circuit judge for the 18th judicial district. The defendant was John Thomas Scopes, a sports coach and teacher of algebra, physics and chemistry at Rhea County High School, who filled in for the regular biology teacher for a period of two weeks.
Lawyers for the defense included John R. Neal (Dean of private law school in Knoxville and technically head of the defense team), Clarence Darrow (a pro bono volunteer, who acted as the effective head of the defense team), Arthur Garfield Hays (a key figure in the ACLU, and the nominal manager of the defense team), Dudley Field Malone (a pro bono volunteer), Frank B. McElwee (a local attorney) and William T. Thomas (Darrow's legal associate).
Although Rappleyea was not an attorney, he was an open supporter of Scopes. He also hosted defense lawyers and expert witnesses, and often sat with the defense team during the trial.
On the prosecution side, Thomas A. "Tom" Stewart was the Chief Prosecutor. [Many accounts claim that Bryan was the chief prosecutor, but this is incorrect.] Tom Stewart was also the Attorney-General for the 18th judicial district. William Jennings Bryan, who hadn't practiced law for 30 years, volunteered to act as an assistant prosecutor. Others who volunteered to act as assistant prosecutors included Bryan's son, William Jennings Bryan Junior; Wallace Haggard; Herbert Hicks; Sue Hicks (the original "boy named Sue" featured in Johnny Cash's song, who was christened after his mother, who died in childbirth); Ben McKenzie; and his son, J. Gordon McKenzie.
What happened at the Scopes trial?
The trial ran for 8 days (plus two weekends), from July 10th - July 21st, 1925 (inclusive). It was covered by at least 200 reporters from all over the world, and thanks to station WGN of Chicago, the entire trial was broadcast over the radio, the first ever broadcast of its kind.
Some historians have wondered why only one expert was allowed to testify at the trial. It is widely believed that the defense team did not call expert witnesses because Judge Raulston refused to allow any expert evidence on the subject of evolution. But as A.C. Bradbury explains, the truth was quite different:
It wasn't so much the expert testimony that the Defense lawyers were concerned about, so much as the experts themselves. As Hays later admitted:
"Cross-examination would have shown that the scientists, while religious men - for we chose only that kind - still did not believe in the virgin birth and other miracles."
In other words, the ACLU and Hays - and presumably the other Defense lawyers, including Darrow and Malone - knew full well that when they talked about finding scientists who were also "Christians", the only kind of 'christian' scientists they could find were men who followed such a watered-down kind of 'faith' that their whole 'science and religion in harmony' scenario would be exposed as a complete sham if the men were questioned on this topic.
The best speech given at the trial was not by Bryan himself, but by Dudley Malone, who made a spirited defense of the right of children to learn what science had to teach them on the fifth day of the trial. The court erupted in deafening cheers and applause, which lasted for a full fifteen minutes. Bryan told Malone afterwards that it was the best speech he'd ever heard.
The highlight of the trial was Clarence Darrow's cross-examination of Bryan on the seventh day of the trial. Bryan volunteered to submit to the cross-examination, insisting that he had nothing to fear from having his beliefs questioned. Darrow pulled no punches in his no-holds-barred interrogation, which lasted for two hours and was broadcast live over the radio. Witnesses who were presented in the courtroom recollect that Bryan held his own. Bryan maintained his composure right until the very end, when he objected that the sole object of Darrow's questioning was to make Christianity look ridiculous. By this time, Darrow too had lost his patience, making intemperate remarks for which he apologized on the final day.
After ridiculing Bryan on the stand for his acceptance of the miracles and teachings of the Bible, Darrow asked the judge to instruct the jury to find his own client — Scopes — guilty as charged. This brought the trial to a speedy conclusion and spared Darrow from taking the witness stand to be questioned by Bryan. It also prevented Bryan from giving his closing argument - something which Darrow very much wanted to avoid, as he knew all too well what a persuasive orator Bryan was. In the court of public opinion around the nation, Darrow seemed to have won the courtroom confrontation on the previous day: a powerful closing speech by Bryan might reverse that impression. It was only after the trial that Bryan was able to publish his closing argument.
The jury found Scopes guilty of Scopes violating the Tennessee Butler Act after just nine minutes of deliberation. Scopes was fined $100, which both Bryan and the ACLU offered to pay for him. Judge Raulston sentenced Scopes to pay the minimum fine allowed under the act - $100.
The case later went to appeal before the Tennessee Supreme Court (commencing May 31st, 1926), where it was reversed on a technicality on January 17th, 1927: the court ruled that it was wrong for the judge to have set the amount of the fine, and that Scopes therefore didn't have to pay the $100 fine.
The aftermath of the Scopes trial
After the trial, Bryan continued his crusade against evolution with renewed vigor, giving speeches, and seeing to the publication of what he saw as his life's great work: his final speech against evolution, which Darrow had prevented him from giving at the Scopes trial.
Bryan, who had been a diabetic for a number of years, ate a very large lunch on July 26, and died in his sleep on the afternoon of that day, which was the first Sunday following the end of the Scopes Trial.
H. L. Mencken's response to the news of Bryan's sudden death was unbelievably callous: "Well, we killed the son of a bitch." Publicly, he joked about Bryan's passing: "God aimed at Darrow, missed, and hit Bryan instead." Mencken continued to launch merciless attacks on Bryan in the weeks following his death. One Scopes trial historian, remarking on the Bryan post-mortems, wrote that Mencken "succeeded in shocking Bryan's admirers as severely as if he had literally scalped Bryan's corpse and done a war dance around it, waving his bloody trophy."
Clarence Darrow, who was 68 years old, had already announced his retirement before he volunteered to take part in the Scopes Trial. Later that year, however, he agreed to take part in the Sweet trial, a landmark civil rights case for African Americans. The closing seven-hour speech by Clarence Darrow in the Sweet trial, on May 11, 1926, has become an all-time classic, titled, I believe in the law of love.
After the Sweet trial, Darrow retired from full-time practice. Darrow's last famous case was the Massie trial, held in Hawaii in 1932, in which Darrow agreed to take part, mainly because he had lost all his savings in the Great Depression. Grace Hubbard Fortescue, along with three accomplices, had been charged with murder in the death of well known local prizefighter Joseph Kahahawai, who had been accused, along with several other men, of raping and beating Fortescue's daughter, Thalia Massie. One of Fortescue's accomplices was Thalia Massie's husband, Thomas Massie. Although subsequent investigations have repeatedly shown the men to have been innocent, Darrow argued in court that the case constituted a justified honor killing by Thomas Massie. A jury found the four accused killers guilty of manslaughter, but not guilty of murder. They were then sentenced to serve one hour in the judge's office, before being released.
In January 1931 Darrow also took part in a debate with English writer G. K. Chesterton, at New York City's Mecca Temple. The topic was "Will the World Return to Religion?". The audience voted Chesterton the winner, by a large margin.
Darrow finally died in 1938, at the age of 80.
John T. Scopes co-wrote his autobiography, Center of the Storm, in 1967, and died in 1970.
There were only two states that managed to pass and keep anti-evolution legislation on the books in the wake of the Scopes Trial: Arkansas and Mississippi.
Before I begin my expose of Mencken's mendacity, I'd like to point out six little-known facts about H. L. Mencken that will surprise many readers.
H. L. Mencken completely fabricated a newspaper story about the Battle of Tsushima, which sealed Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War. This picture shows Admiral Tōgō on the bridge of Mikasa, at the beginning of the Battle of Tsushima in 1905. The signal flag being hoisted is the letter Z, which was a special instruction to the Fleet. Image courtesy of P. D. Ottoman and Wikipedia.
Mencken: The American Iconoclast by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers (Oxford University Press, 2005).
The Herald city editor watched, transfixed, while Bryan, dressed in an alpaca suit, and with what looked to be tears glistening in his eyes, arose before the audience and said good-by. Mencken's description of Bryan's farewell as a tragic play was, ironically, the chronicle of a man whose career he would help destroy two decades later, in what would be called the trial of the century. "I was against Bryan the moment I heard of him."
Despite the Herald's strict codes of accuracy and truthfulness ("No decent newspaper," Mencken had declared, "runs falsehoods willingly and knowingly"), on May 28, 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War, Mencken abandoned his own principles.
The war had posed new challenges for all the major papers. Japanese censorship was tight. Wireless telegraphy and ocean cables were undependable. Most of the American dailies relied on the Associated Press or another major paper for war news, and few of the top papers ... - let alone the Baltimore Herald - had correspondents or freelance writers in the field...
On May 28, the Tokyo Associated Press gave its first clue that a major battle had occurred. The morning newspapers, including the New York Times, reported that details of the day's historic events were being withheld by the Japanese authorities...
"Like every managing editor of normal appetites I was thrown into a sweat by this uncertainty," Mencken later recalled. He and his news editor stayed late at their posts, "hoping against hope that the story would begin to flow in at any minute, and give us a chance to bring out a hot extra." The hours ticked by, but nothing came in.
Returning to his tiny office, Mencken sat down and typed in a plausible location: "Shanghai, China" for his dateline. His typewriter keys poised over the sheet of paper. "After that, I laid it on ... with a shovel."... Pring over maps, he and the news editor examined lists of commanders, names of ships, and photographs, embellishing what they thought would be a Japanese newspaper story of a Japanese victory to appear under the banner: "FLYING SHELLS STRIKE ROJESTEVENSKY; FIVE OF THE FUGITIVES ELUDE TOGO; SATURDAY'S BIG BATTLE DESCRIBED."
Indeed, the battle was laid out in all its imagined detail. It began: "from Chinese boatmen landing upon the Korean coast comes the first connected story of the great naval battle in the straits of Korea." It had been "a spectacle of extraordinary magnificence." The day, Mencken typed, had been clear; the Russian ships grimy and unkempt; the roar of guns could be heard fifty miles from the scene of battle as the big battleship Borodino went down at the hour of noon. Here Mencken paused, adding, "or thereabout."
Mencken never gave any indication as to how outrageous his exercise in manufactured news had been. Instead, all of this made for good material in his memoirs - which, he warned readers, was full of "stretchers." But contrary to Mencken's claim, not every detail of the battle had been correct, as alert Herald readers soon learned. It had been a misty day, not a clear one; the battle did not begin at noon but during the evening; Borodino did not fit the description of being unkempt, having recently been repaired...
Mencken had been criticized before for making up stories as a cub reporter. Even then, the paper's youngest star had been given the benefit of the doubt, though it should be noted that by 1905-06 the practice was being condemned with far more vehemence than in 1899. As an editor, Mencken had shown no reluctance to confront such renegade behavior on the part of his staff. But when it came to his own story, and trying to revive the circulation of the ailing Herald, Mencken avoided any questions about his actions.
Mencken wrote in his obituary of Bryan, "If the fellow was sincere, then so was P.T. Barnum." The caption in the poster above reads: "The Barnum & Bailey greatest show on earth Wonderful performing geese, roosters and musical donkey". Chromolithograph. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, the Strobridge Lithography Company, and Wikipedia.
I also discovered that by his own admission, Mencken had a long-standing dislike of Bryan. As he writes in his book, My Life as author and editor (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1992), "I was against Bryan the moment I heard of him." Writing for the Herald in 1904, Mencken likened Bryan's political farewell to a tragic play - a metaphor he would use again 21 years later, when reporting on the Scopes trial. According to Fred Hobson's Mencken: A Life, it was Mencken who persuaded Clarence Darrow to undertake Scopes' defense on the Scopes trial, and it was also Mencken who suggested to Darrow the idea of putting him on the stand to make him look ridiculous. Mencken's obituary of Mencken in the American Mercury, titled, To Expose a Fool, must surely rank as one of the most vindictive of all time. A few excerpts will serve to convey the author's unrelenting malice:
He was the most sedulous flycatcher in American history, and by long odds the most successful...
If the fellow was sincere, then so was P.T. Barnum. The word is disgraced and degraded by such uses. He was, in fact, a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without any shame or dignity. What animated him from end to end of his grotesque career was simply ambition--the ambition of a common man to get his hand upon the collar of his superiors, or, failing that, to get his thumb into their eyes...
What moved him, at bottom, was simply hatred of city men who had laughed at him so long, and brought him at last to so tatterdemalion an estate. He lusted for revenge upon them...
He went far beyond the bounds of any merely religious frenzy, however inordinate. When he began denouncing the notion that man is a mammal even some of the hinds at Dayton were agape. And when, brought upon Darrow's cruel hook, he writhed and tossed in a very fury of malignancy...
Upon that hook, in truth, Byran committed suicide, as a legend as well as in the body. He staggered from the rustic court ready to die, and he staggered from it ready to be forgotten, save as a character in a third-rate farce, witless and in execrable taste...
The evil that men do lives after them. Bryan, in his malice, started something that will not be easy to stop. In ten thousand country town his old heelers, the evangelical pastors, are propagating his gospel, and everywhere the yokels are ready for it...
Bryan came very near being President of the United States. In 1896, it is possible, he was actually elected. He lived long enough to make patriots thank the inscrutable gods for Harding, even for Coolidge. Dulness has got into the White House, and the smell of cabbage boiling, but there is at least nothing to compare to the intolerable buffoonery that went on in Tennessee. The President of the United States doesn't believe that the earth is square, and that witches should be put to death, and that Jonah swallowed the whale...
Such is Bryan's legacy to his country. He couldn't be President, but he could at least help magnificently in the solemn business of shutting off the presidency from every intelligent and self-respecting man.
American Mercury, October 1925, pp. 158-160.
Should we trust such a malicious source?
H. L. Mencken, like William Jennings Bryan and like the modern-day Intelligent Design movement, believed that the theory of evolution should be taught in schools not as a fact but as an hypothesis, and that the scientific arguments for and against the theory should be presented in a fair and balanced manner. Statue of Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, holding the scales of justice in her right hand. Chuo University, Japan. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
My third "bombshell" - which I stumbled upon quite by accident, while conducting my research on the Internet - is that Mencken's views on how evolution should be taught in schools were virtually the same as those of the modern Intelligent Design movement: Mencken believed that the arguments in its favor should be presented, along with the scientific objections to it. Here is an excerpt from a report in the Baltimore Evening Sun (June 15, 1925), titled, The Tennessee Circus, which was Mencken's very first report discussing the upcoming Scopes Trial, which commenced the following month. In his article, Mencken contrasts two different approaches to Scripture: that of evangelical Christians, who are committed to upholding its literal accuracy in every verse, and that of churches which set up an authority, which is competent to officially determine the meaning of difficult or controverted passages. In the latter group, Mencken includes not only the Catholic Church, but also the Anglican, Greek Orthodox, and Presbyterian churches. Mencken describes these churches as "authoritarian" and praises the way in which they are handling the current controversy, by teaching evolution not as a fact, but as a hypothesis accepted by most scientists, and then presenting the arguments for evolution and the difficulties with the theory - an approach which Mencken hails as "an intelligent attitude":
...[T]he current discussion of the Tennessee buffoonery, in the Catholic and other authoritarian press, is immensely more free and intelligent than it is in the evangelical Protestant press. In such journals as the Conservator, the new Catholic weekly, both sides are set forth, and the varying contentions are subjected to frank and untrammeled criticism. Canon de Dorlodot whoops for evolution; Dr. O'Toole denounces it as nonsense. If the question were the Virgin Birth, or the apostolic succession, or transubstantiation, or even birth control, the two antagonists would be in the same trench, for authority binds them there. But on the matter of evolution authority is silent, and so they have at each other in the immemorial manner of theologians, with a great kicking up of dust.
The Conservator itself takes no sides, but argues that Evolution ought to be taught in the schools - not as incontrovertible fact but as a hypothesis accepted by the overwhelming majority of enlightened men. The objections to it, theological and evidential, should be noted, but not represented as unanswerable.
Obviously, this is an intelligent attitude. Equally obviously, it is one that the evangelical brethren cannot take without making their position absurd. For weal or for woe, they are committed absolutely to the literal accuracy of the Bible; they base their whole theology upon it. Once they admit, even by inference, that there may be a single error in Genesis, they open the way to an almost complete destruction of that theology.
And here is the official position of the Intelligent Design movement's Discovery Institute on the theory of evolution in America's public schools:
What does the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture recommend for science education curriculum?
As a matter of public policy, Discovery Institute opposes any effort to require the teaching of intelligent design by school districts or state boards of education. Attempts to mandate teaching about intelligent design only politicize the theory and will hinder fair and open discussion of the merits of the theory among scholars and within the scientific community. Furthermore, most teachers at the present time do not know enough about intelligent design to teach about it accurately and objectively.
Instead of mandating intelligent design, Discovery Institute seeks to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks. It believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can't be questioned.
Discovery Institute believes that a curriculum that aims to provide students with an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of neo-Darwinian and chemical evolutionary theories (rather than teaching an alternative theory, such as intelligent design) represents a common ground approach that all reasonable citizens can agree on.
The Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee. Image courtesy of Kaldari and Wikipedia.
The fourth "bombshell" I discovered was that despite Mencken's eager involvement with the defense case in the Scopes Trial, he actually disagreed with the ACLU's position in bringing the case against the state of Tennessee. The ACLU, in taking on the Scopes trial, wanted a case to establish, as they saw it, the unconstitutional nature of a ban on the teaching of evolutionist theory. The ACLU felt that academic freedom and integrity, as well as the separation of church and state, were at stake. It wanted to make the Scopes case the centerpiece of its campaign for freedom of speech. As Roger Baldwin, the founder of the ACLU, put it: "We shall take the Scopes case to the United States Supreme Court if necessary to establish that a teacher may tell the truth without being thrown in jail."
Mencken, on the other hand, thought that Tennessee's ban was perfectly constitutional, and that the citizens of each state had every right to set their own public school curriculum. On this point, he was totally in agreement with William Jennings Bryan, who told the West Virginia Legislature in 1923: "The hand that writes the paycheck rules the school."
Tennessee vs. Truth: The key issue at stake in the Scopes trial, for the ACLU
An unsigned editorial in The Nation (July 8, 1925, p. 58), titled "Tennessee vs. Truth," went straight to the heart of the matter, in its first paragraph: should the content of a state's science curriculum be determined by popular vote or by scientists, who acquire knowledge using the scientific method?
When the prosecution of John T. Scopes, teacher of Biology in the Dayton high school is begun on July 10, it ought to be cried out by the court clerk as the State of Tennessee vs. Truth. For the trial brings to a head the attempt of a great commonwealth to determine science by popular vote, to establish truth by fiat instead of study, research and experiment.
There is no doubt that this was the position endorsed by the ACLU: the academic freedom of science teachers to teach the truth, in accordance with the scientific method, was paramount. But this was not Mencken's view.
Sources: http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/tennes14.html, http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/tenness4.html, http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/menckenh.htm
Mencken believed the recently passed 1925 Butler Act (which forbade the teaching of human evolution in public high schools) to be fully constitutional, and he told Bryan as much when he first met him in person, on July 9, 1925. What's more, in an article for The Nation (July 1, 1925), written just nine days before the trial began, he argued that high school teachers were paid pedagogues, who should be content to teach whatever their state required them to teach.
Professor Doug Linder, of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, expressed his puzzlement at Mencken's decision to assist the defense case in the Scopes Trial, which was trying to have the Butler Act overturned as unconstitutional, in a 2004 essay on H. L. Mencken:
Mencken's active interest in the defense case is surprising in light of his views published in The Nation just a week before the Scopes trial began. In his Nation column, he insisted, "No principle is at stake at Dayton save the principle that school teachers, like plumbers, should stick to the job that is set before them, and not go roving around the house, breaking windows, raiding the cellar, and demoralizing children." The issue of free speech was "irrelevant": "When a pedagogue takes his oath of office, he renounces his right to free speech quite as certainly as a bishop does, or a colonel in the army, or an editorial writer of a newspaper. He becomes a paid propagandist of certain definite doctrines... and every time he departs from them deliberately he deliberately swindles his employers." Mencken argued that states had the right to make curricular choices based what might have the greatest "utility" for students. "What could be of greater utility to the son of a Tennessee mountaineer," he asked, "than an education making him a good Tennesseean, content with his father, at peace with his neighbors, dutiful to the local religion, and docile under the local mores?"
After Mencken stepped off the train in Dayton one hot afternoon in early July, he ran into William Jennings Bryan and — to Bryan's delight — reaffirmed his printed opinion that the Butler Act was constitutional. The Commoner announced to a crowd that gathered around the two men as they chatted, "This Mencken is the best newspaperman in the country!" It was an opinion that Bryan would not hold for long...
The tone of Mencken's reports soon changed as the trial began.
If we examine Mencken's column for The Nation (July 1, 1925), we can see that in addition to arguing that teachers were paid to teach what the state required them to teach, he also contended that the people of the state of Tennessee, through their elected representatives, had a perfect right to decree what should or should not be included in their state's high school curriculum, and that it was quite appropriate for them to make this decision on the basis of what was likely to have the greatest "utility" for students, as future citizens of that state. Mencken forcefully rejected the notion that "some mysterious and vastly important principle is at stake at Dayton" - "Tell it to the marines!" he scoffed:
So, now, in Tennessee, where a rural pedagogue stands arraigned before his peers for violating the school law. At bottom, a quite simple business. The hinds of the State, desiring to prepare their young for life there, set up public schools. To man those schools they employ pedagogues. To guide those pedagogues they lay down rules prescribing what is to be taught and what is not to be taught. Why not, indeed? How could it be otherwise? Precisely the same custom prevails everywhere else in the world, wherever there are schools at all. Behind every school ever heard of there is a definite concept of its purpose of the sort of equipment it is to give to its pupils. It cannot conceivably teach everything; it must confine itself by sheer necessity to teaching what will be of the greatest utility, cultural or practical, to the youth actually in hand. Well, what could be of greater utility to the son of a Tennessee mountaineer than an education making him a good Tennesseean, content with his father, at peace with his neighbors, dutiful to the local religion, and docile under the local mores?
That is all the Tennessee anti-evolution law seeks to accomplish. It differs from other regulations of the same sort only to the extent that Tennessee differs from the rest of the world. The State, to a degree that should be gratifying, has escaped the national standardization. Its people show a character that is immensely different from the character of, say, New Yorkers or Californians. They retain, among other things, the anthropomorphic religion of an elder day. They do not profess it; they actually believe in it. The Old Testament, to them, is not a mere sacerdotal whizz-bang, to be read for its pornography; it is an authoritative history, and the transactions recorded in it are as true as the story of Barbara Frietchie, or that of Washington and the cherry tree, or that of the late Woodrow's struggle to keep us out of the war. So crediting the sacred narrative, they desire that it be taught to their children, and any doctrine that makes game of it is immensely offensive to them. When such a doctrine, despite their protests, is actually taught, they proceed to put it down by force.
Is that procedure singular? I don't think it is. It is adopted everywhere, the instant the prevailing notions, whether real or false, are challenged. Suppose a school teacher in New York began entertaining his pupils with the case against the Jews, or against the Pope. Suppose a teacher in Vermont essayed to argue that the late Confederate States were right, as thousands of perfectly sane and intelligent persons believe that Lee was a defender of the Constitution and Grant a traitor to it. Suppose a teacher in Kansas taught that prohibition was evil, or a teacher in New Jersey that it was virtuous. But I need not pile up suppositions. The evidence of what happens to such a contumacious teacher was spread before us copiously during the late uproar about Bolsheviks. And it was not in rural Tennessee but in the great cultural centers which now laugh at Tennessee that punishments came most swiftly, and were most barbarous. It was not Dayton but New York City that cashiered teachers for protesting against the obvious lies of the State Department.
Yet now we are asked to believe that some mysterious and vastly important principle is at stake at Dayton that the conviction of Professor Scopes will strike a deadly blow at enlightenment and bring down freedom to sorrow and shame. Tell it to the marines! No principle is at stake at Dayton save the principle that school teachers, like plumbers, should stick to the job that is set before them, and not go roving about the house, breaking windows, raiding the cellar, and demoralizing the children. The issue of free speech is quite irrelevant. When a pedagogue takes his oath of office, he renounces his right to free speech quite as certainly as a bishop does, or a colonel in the army, or an editorial writer on a newspaper. He becomes a paid propagandist of certain definite doctrines and attitudes, mainly determined specifically and in advance, and every time he departs from them deliberately he deliberately swindles his employers...
A pedagogue, properly so called and a high-school teacher in a country town is properly so called is surely not a searcher for knowledge. His job in the world is simply to pass on what has been chosen and approved by his superiors...
Liberty of teaching begins where teaching ends.
The paradox: Mencken was an ardent champion of states' rights, yet he did everything in his power to oppose the state of Tennessee in its attempt to ban the teaching of human evolution as a scientific fact
The paradox that confronts historians of the Scopes trial is that despite the democratic views expressed above on the right of each state to set its own school curriculum, Mencken also put forward a frankly elitist argument against majority rule in his now-classic article, Homo Neanderthalensis (The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 29, 1925):
Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men. Every valuable thing that has been added to the store of man's possessions has been derided by them when it was new, and destroyed by them when they had the power. They have fought every new truth ever heard of, and they have killed every truth-seeker who got into their hands.
The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. They mirror very accurately his congenital hatred of knowledge, his bitter enmity to the man who knows more than he does, and so gets more out of life. Certainly it cannot have gone unnoticed that their membership is recruited, in the overwhelming main, from the lower orders -- that no man of any education or other human dignity belongs to them. What they propose to do, at bottom and in brief, is to make the superior man infamous -- by mere abuse if it is sufficient, and if it is not, then by law....
The inferior man's reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex -- because it puts an unbearable burden upon his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. All superstitions are such short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious...
The popularity of Fundamentalism among the inferior orders of men is explicable in exactly the same way...
What all this amounts to is that the human race is divided into two sharply differentiated and mutually antagonistic classes, almost two genera -- a small minority that plays with ideas and is capable of taking them in, and a vast majority that finds them painful, and is thus arrayed against them, and against all who have traffic with them. The intellectual heritage of the race belongs to the minority, and to the minority only. The majority has no more to do with it than it has to do with ecclesiastic politics on Mars.
So, how do we account for the fact that in his series of articles for the Baltimore Evening Sun, Mencken was blisteringly critical of the proposal to prohibit the teaching of human evolution in Tennessee's high schools, arguing that the content of the science curriculum should not be decided by a majority vote, but by the intelligentsia, even though he had argued for the opposite position in The Nation on July 1, 1925? It might be tempting to suppose that Mencken had a sudden change of heart - but the chronology of Mencken's articles refutes that hypothesis: Mencken's elitist article for the Baltimore Evening Sun, Homo neanderthalensis, was written in June 29, two days before his article for The Nation on July 1.
Will the real Mencken please step forward?
Mencken provides some clues that reconcile the apparent contradiction in his attitudes, in two articles for the Baltimore Evening Sun. In his article of July 27, 1925, he explained his position as follows:
When I first encountered him [on July 9 - VJT], on the sidewalk in front of the Hicks brothers law office, the trial was yet to begin, and so he was still expansive and amiable. I had printed in the Nation, a week or so before, an article arguing that the anti-evolution law, whatever its unwisdom, was at least constitutional -- that policing school teachers was certainly not putting down free speech. The old boy professed to be delighted with the argument, and gave the gaping bystanders to understand that I was a talented publicist. In turn I admired the curious shirt he wore -- sleeveless and with the neck cut very low. We parted in the manner of two Spanish ambassadors.
Another clue can be found in his article of July 20, he chides the educated minority of Tennesseans who did nothing to oppose the bill until it was too late:
But what of the rest of the people of Tennessee? I greatly fear that they will not attain to consolation so easily. They are an extremely agreeable folk, and many of them are highly intelligent. I met men and women -- particularly women -- in Chattanooga who showed every sign of the highest culture. They led civilized lives, despite Prohibition, and they were interested in civilized ideas, despite the fog of Fundamentalism in which they moved. I met members of the State judiciary who were as heartily ashamed of the bucolic ass, Raulston, as an Osler would be of a chiropractor. I add the educated clergy: Episcopalians, Unitarians, Jews and so on -- enlightened men, tossing pathetically under the imbecilities of their evangelical colleagues. Chattanooga, as I found it, was charming, but immensely unhappy.
What its people ask for -- many of them in plain terms -- is suspended judgment, sympathy, Christian charity, and I believe that they deserve all these things. Dayton may be typical of Tennessee, but it is surely not all of Tennessee. The civilized minority in the State is probably as large as in any other Southern State. What ails it is simply the fact it has been, in the past, too cautious and politic -- that it has been too reluctant to offend the Fundamentalist majority. To that reluctance something else has been added: an uncritical and somewhat childish local patriotism. The Tennesseeans have tolerated their imbeciles for fear that attacking them would bring down the derision of the rest of the country. Now they have the derision, and to excess -- and the attack is ten times as difficult as it ever was before.
A final clue can be provided in his article, Aftermath of September 14, 1925:
The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by persons who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame.
True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has a right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has a right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge. Did Darrow, in the course of his dreadful bombardment of Bryan, drop a few shells, incidentally, into measurably cleaner camps? Then let the garrisons of those camps look to their defenses. They are free to shoot back. But they can't disarm their enemy.
What Mencken might have said in his own defense, were he alive today, is this:
Each state has a perfect right to set its own school curriculum. But the educated minority of people living in that state also have the right to publicly oppose measures initiated by a government - including laws drafted for the state's representatives to vote on - which set back the cause of scientific progress. Indeed, they have the duty to do so. What's more, they have every right to publicly ridicule the simpletons who put forward these laws, and expose the absurdities of their religious beliefs. People deserve a certain measure of respect; erroneous beliefs deserve none.
I, as a public citizen who cares deeply about the truth, have the right to assist this educated minority by using my pen to expose the ignorant majority to unrelenting ridicule, in order to persuade their leaders that passing bills that would prevent science teachers from teaching the theory of evolution as I believe it should be taught. Once the vote is taken by a state's political representatives, it becomes settled law. But until then I have every right to fight it tooth and nail - and even afterwards, I reserve my right to resort to ridicule and invective, in the hope of persuading that state's leaders to repeal that law.
H. L. Mencken proposed that the defense lawyers in the Scopes trial should try to "make a monkey out of Bryan" and expose him to public ridicule. The image above, titled "A Venerable Orang-outang", is a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape (not a monkey), published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine, 22 March 1871. Image courtesy of University College London Digital Collections (18886) and Wikipedia.
Mencken's advice to the Scopes trial defense team: "This isn't about Scopes. Let's get Bryan!"
Mencken did not cover the Scopes trial as a detached observer. As biographer Marion Elizabeth Rodgers notes in her book, Mencken: The American Iconoclast (Oxford University Press, 2005; paperback, 2007), Mencken had a very personal stake in the trial:
Throughout the decade [the 1920s - VJT] Mencken had taken it upon himself to champion the cause of the "beleaguered cities" against the "barbaric yokels" from the hinterland. One of the reasons for Mencken's hostility towards agrarian America was its ties to Protestant Fundamentalism, which he considered anathema to the nation's well-being. He went to Dayton as a combatant in what he sincerely took to be a a struggle of civilization and science against bigotry and superstition. (p. 273)
In her biography, Rodgers reveals that Mencken assisted the defense team in formulating their strategy at the Scopes trial. Mencken adopted a very aggressive approach from the outset: it was he who suggested that the lawyers should go after Bryan, with the aim of making him look ridiculous:
Hays' actions on behalf of free speech had made him a key figure at the ACLU. In 1925, the organization was only five years old, and was seeking its first court victory. Hays called on Mencken to help prepare their strategy. The aim of Darrow and his team was to have Scopes acquitted, but Mencken disagreed. The best way to handle the case, he argued, was to "convert it into a headlong assult on Bryan." It was he who was the international figure, "not that poor worm of a schoolmaster." Mencken proposed that the lawyers put Bryan on the stand if possible, "to make him state his barbaric credo in plain English, and to make a monkey of him before the world." The team agreed, although Hays still insisted Scopes could be acquitted.
As the skirmish began, newspapers promised that the trial would be a world sensation. (p. 272)
In her biography, Rodgers also reveals that Mencken deliberately stereotyped the people of Dayton, Tennessee:
In an effort to prove to Mencken and the other journalists that their reporting was biased, that within those same hills there also existed educated circuit preachers, drugstore owner Fred Robinosn made a special effort to introduce out-of-state reporters to a highly educated minister. The New York Times subsequently wrote in amazement of the Tennessee mountain man who had, along with his old clothes and polished boots, a scholar's knowledge of Greek and Hebrew as well as Darwin's Origin of Species. But to Robinson's dismay, "Mencken kept with the hillbilly story of the Holy Rollers."
Darrow continued passionately, thrusting his thumbs under his blue suspenders, his collar limp. Facing the WGN microphone that conveyed his words across a nation, he concluded:
If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other. Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school teachers,tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lectures, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After while, your honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century when bigots lighted fagots to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.
..."I have met no educated man who is not ashamed of the ridicule that has fallen upon the state," reflected Mencken. The civilized minority had known for years what was going on in the hills, wrote Mencken: "They knew what country preachers [had] rammed and hammered into yokel skulls." Now Tennessee was paying the price.
In spite of the trial's lack of dignity, the columnist asked that his readers "not make the colossal mistake" of viewing it as "a trivial farce." But the next Americam who finds himself with an idle million on his hands, Mencken proposed, should dedicate it to civilizing Tennessee, "a sort of Holy Land for imbeciles."
p. 286 (On Malone's speech)
There is never a duel with the truth. The truth always wins and we are not afraid of it. The truth is no coward. The truth does not need the law. The truth does not need the forces of government. The truth does not need Mr. Bryan. The truth is imperishable, eternal and immortal, and needs no human agency to support it. We are ready to tell the truth as we understand it, and we do not fear all the truth that they present as facts. We are ready.
...To J. W. Butler, an anti-evolution lawmaker seated in the audience, it was "the finest speech of the century."
What disturbed the local townspeople of Dayton most was to be portrayed as religious fanatics. While many of the population admitted to being conservative Christians, the residents disliked being described as mountaineers. Two who fell into this category were college graduates from northern Pennsylvania. Others gave interviews, only to find that their speech had been liberally sprinkled in print with words like "hain't" and "sech."
"Some of the newspaper correspondents attending the trial have apparently lost no opportunity for exaggeration if not downright misrepresentation," complained the Chattanooga Times. It was noted that in their thirst for local color, "they have seized upon the most narrow, ignorant, backward aspects of the community and harped upon them as though they were representative... Such writing is obviously unfair and unjust and beneath the ethics of anybody who adheres to an enlightened code of intellectual honesty."
Locally, much of the unfairness was blamed on Mencken. To this day, Mencken's name is mentioned in Dayton with contempt; in 1925, he was
anointed "the stinker." ("Mr. Mencken did not degenerate from an ape," one local said, "but from an ass.") It was not, as Mencken supposed, his description of the Holy Roller meeting that caused the most fury, but his caricatures of the "Babbitts" and "backward" locals, "hillbillies," "yaps," "yokels," "peasants" and mountaineers from the hills of East Tennessee that infuriated citizens who prided themselves on their intelligence...
"In a way it was Mencken's show," John Scopes recalled in 1967. "In the public mind today, a mention of the Dayton trial more likely evokes Mencken than it does me. His biting commentary on the Bible Belt and the trial itself was one of the highlights of the entire event." Yet even Scopes disagreed with Mencken's portrayal of the Dayton townsfolk as "morons"; many were his friends. Looking back at the trial years later, Scopes dismissed Mencken as "a sensationalist."
The entire press gallery was trying to make Bryan look ridiculous
In his essay, William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes Trial, Professor Gerald Priest writes:
According to early Bryan biographer J. C. Long, most of the reporters were so biased against Bryan and fundamentalism that their editorials were an unofficial witness for Darrow and the defense. They made it appear as though Bryan and his "shopworn" principles were on trial, instead of Scopes.(61) Warren Allem quotes from an editorial in The New Republic that journalists
have schemed and labored to present the court proceedings to American opinion in the guise of a melodrama in which William J. Bryan, the Attorney General, and Judge Raulston are portrayed as reprobates who are conspiring to convict and punish an innocent man, and deprive the jury and the American people of the evidence in the case. What they have actually succeeded in doing is to cheapen not only the trial but the issue by subordinating both of them to the exigencies of theatrical newspaper publicity. (62)
61. J. C. Long, Bryan, The Great Commoner (New York: D. Appleton, 1928), p. 381. See also, the comments of Henry Fairfield Osborn, whose hastily written book just prior to Dayton excoriated the religiously "fanatical" and scientifically "stone-deaf" Bryan as the man on trial (cited in Larson, Summer for the Gods, p. 113).
62. Warren Allem, "Backgrounds of the Scopes Dayton Trial at Tennessee" (M.A. thesis, University of Tennessee, 1959), p. 30.
In his reportage of the Scopes trial, H. L. Mencken was careful to attack only one group of Christians: the Fundamentalists. What he neglected to mention, however, was that the position of Catholics on evolution was virtually the same as that of the Fundamentalists. In his 1880 encyclical Arcanum on Christian marriage, Pope Leo XIII had written, "We call to mind facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one: after He formed man from the slime of the earth on the sixth day of creation, and breathed into his face the breath of life, God willed to give him a female companion, whom He drew forth wondrously from the man's side as he slept." The image above is a portrait of Pope Leo XIII. Image courtesy of Library of Congress and Wikipedia.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Creation:
Though God can operate as He does in the creative act, without the cooperation of the creature, it is absolutely impossible for the creature to elicit even the smallest act without the co-operation of the Creator. Now the Divine Administration includes this and more, two things, namely, as regards the present subject. The one is the constant order, the natural laws of the universe. Thus, e.g., that all living things should be ordinately propagated by seed belongs to the Divine Administration. The second, which may be called exceptional, relates to the initial organisms, the first plant, fish, bird, and beast, upon which hereditary propagation must have subsequently succeeded. That these original pairs should have been evolved out of the potency of matter without parentage — that the matter, otherwise incapable of the task, should have been proximately disposed for such evolution — belongs to a special Divine Administration. In other words, God must have been the sole efficient cause — utilizing, of course, the material cause — of the organization requisite, and hence may strictly be said to have formed such pairs, and in particular the human body, out of the pre-existent matter (Harper, op. cit., 743). It need hardly be said that the distinctions between creation and co-operation, administration and formation, are not to be considered as subjectively realized in God.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Deluge:
As to the view of Christian tradition, it suffices to appeal here to the words of Father Zorell who maintains that the Bible story concerning the Flood has never been explained or understood in any but a truly historical sense by any Catholic writer (cf. Hagen, Lexicon Biblicum)...
The Biblical account ascribes some kind of a universality to the Flood. But it may have been geographically universal, or it may have been only anthropologically universal. In other words, the Flood may have covered the whole earth, or it may have destroyed all men, covering only a certain part of the earth...
Science, therefore, may demand an early date for the Deluge, but it does not necessitate a limitation of the Flood to certain parts of the human race...
Up to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the belief in the anthropological universality of the Deluge was general. Moreover, the Fathers regarded the ark and the Flood as types of baptism and of the Church; this view they entertained not as a private opinion, but as a development of the doctrine contained in 1 Peter 3:20 sq. Hence, the typical character of both ark and Flood belongs to the "matters of faith and morals" in which the Tridentine and the Vatican Councils oblige all Catholics to follow the interpretation of the Church.
Genesis places the Deluge in the six-hundredth year of Noah; the Masoretic text assigns it to the year 1656 after the creation, the Samaritan to 1307, the Septuagint to 2242, Flavius Josephus to 2256. Again, the Masoretic text places it in B.C. 2350 (Klaproth) or 2253 (Lüken), the Samaritan in 2903, the Septuagint in 3134. According to the ancient traditions (Lüken), the Assyrians placed the Deluge in 2234 B.C. or 2316, the Greeks in 2300, the Egyptians in 2600, the Phoenicians in 2700, the Mexicans in 2900, the Indians in 3100, the Chinese in 2297, while the Armenians assigned the building of the Tower of Babel to about 2200 B.C. But as we have seen, we must be prepared to assign earlier dates to these events.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Jonah:
Catholics have always looked upon the Book of Jonah as a fact-narrative. In the works of some recent Catholic writers there is a leaning to regard the book as fiction. Only Simon and Jahn, among prominent Catholic scholars, have clearly denied the historicity of Jonah; and the orthodoxy of these two critics may no longer be defended: "Providentissimus Deus" implicitly condemned the ideas of both in the matter of inspiration, and the Congregation of the Index expressly condemned the "Introduction" of the latter.
Reasons for the traditional acceptance of the historicity of Jonah:
According to the Septuagint text of the Book of Tobias (xiv, 4), the words of Jonah in regard to the destruction of Ninive are accepted as facts; the same reading is found in the Aramaic text and one Hebrew manuscript...
The authority of Our Lord
This reason is deemed by Catholics to remove all doubt as to the fact of the story of Jonah. The Jews asked a "sign" — a miracle to prove the Messiahship of Jesus. He made answer that no "sign" would be given them other than the "sign of Jonah the Prophet... He argues clearly that just as Jonah was in the whale's belly three days and three nights even so He will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. If, then, the stay of Jonah in the belly of the fish be only a fiction, the stay of Christ's body in the heart of the earth is only a fiction...
The authority of the Fathers
Not a single Father has ever been cited in favor of the opinion that Jonah is a fancy-tale and no fact-narrative at all. To the Fathers Jonah was a fact and a type of the Messias, just such a one as Christ presented to the Jews...
I now pass to Mencken's misrepresentations, which I have summarized below. I shall provide relevant documentation to substantiate my charges in the course of this article.
Mencken's Nine Major Misrepresentations - An Executive Summary
What did Mencken lie about, in his reporting on the Scopes trial?
First, Mencken lied about the key point at issue in the Scopes Trial, which was not whether the theory of evolution could be taught in Tennessee's public high schools, but whether the evolution of man from "lower animals" could be taught as a scientific theory to high school students, in a state where a solid majority of parents in the state of Tennessee opposed the teaching of such a theory to their children, on both moral and religious grounds.
Second, Mencken lied by omission, by failing to mention that Hunter's Civic Biology, a pro-evolution science textbook that was cited at the trial, and which high school teachers in the state of Tennessee were actually required to use at the time, endorsed both racism and eugenics: it taught the the Caucasoid race was "the highest" races, described people with mental handicaps and genetic deformities as "true parasites", and highly commended the practice of eugenics.
Third, Mencken mis-represented the religious views of William Jennings Bryan, depicting him as a Biblical literalist and a "fundamentalist pope," when Bryan's own writings showed that he was a Presbyterian of fairly liberal views, who believed in an old Earth, and who was open to the possibility that plants and animals had evolved by Darwinian natural selection, making an exception only for man.
Fourth, Mencken mendaciously attributed to Bryan the statement that man is not a mammal, when Bryan said nothing of the sort. What Bryan did object to was the portrayal of man in Hunter's Civic Biology as an unexceptional mammal, "so indistinguishable among the mammals that they leave him there with thirty-four hundred and ninety-nine other [species of] mammals."
Fifth, Mencken consistently portrayed Bryan as a petty, hate-filled character when others who were present, including Scopes himself, testified to his magnanimity, affability and pleasant personality.
Sixth, Mencken falsely depicted Bryan as an ignorant man with a "peasant-like suspicion of all book learning," when in fact, he was the valedictorian of his law class, and had also read Darwin's Origin of Species and his Descent of Man, twenty years before the Scopes trial was held.
Seventh, Mencken mis-represented the political views of William Jennings Bryan, describing Bryan as a "fundamentalist pope" and a "superstitious old populist," when in reality, he was a progressive who actively supported causes such as women's suffrage (which Mencken opposed), the direct election of Senators, and progressive income tax. Mencken also publicly opposed imperialism and anti-Semitism, and in Chapter 9 of his book, In his image, he declared in that "prejudice of any kind, whether it be personal, political, race, or religious, seriously interferes with the progress of truth." Nevertheless, Bryan's political career suffered from one great moral failing: fearing to alienate his political supporters, he refused to speak out publicly against the Ku Klux Klan. I'll say more on Bryan's views on race relations below; for now, let me note that H. L. Mencken's own statements on African Americans were far more reprehensible than anything Bryan ever said. According to Mencken, "The vast majority of people of their race are but two or three inches removed from gorillas" ("The Aframerican: New Style", in The American Mercury, February 1926, pp. 254-255.)
Eighth, Mencken lied about the outcome of the Scopes trial, when he claimed that Bryan was totally and irretrievably crushed in the courtroom by Dudley Malone's rousing reply to Bryan's speech on the fifth day of the trial and by Clarence Darrow's subsequent interrogation of Bryan on the seventh day. However, the trial defendant, John T. Scopes, thought otherwise. In his autobiography, Center of the Storm, he acknowledged that Bryan's speech, which preceded Malone's, was mesmerizing, receiving "a long and spirited - but not boisterous - ovation," and that while Malone's speech in reply was "unexpectedly moving" and had the people "eating out of his hand," Bryan was "revitalized" the following day; "his instinct to fight, his courage, and his strong heart would not let him completely surrender." For their part, the people of Dayton, Tennessee, "considered the Bryan-Malone tilt as one round of the fight," rather than as a knockout victory for Malone, as Mencken had suggested in his newspaper columns. In his autobiography, Scopes added that "Bryan tried to stage a comeback, but Darrow blocked him completely." Bryan was denied the opportunity to deliver his closing argument in the Scopes trial, because he was outmaneuvered by Clarence Darrow, who, fearing Bryan's rhetorical powers, told the judge he was willing to accept a guilty verdict in order to move to appeal, thus obviating the need for closing statements. Darrow had good reason to be afraid, as anyone who has read Bryan's undelivered closing speech will readily agree: it was a passionate and persuasive piece of writing. As for Darrow's courtroom cross-examination of Bryan: according to trial historian (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Edward Larson, author of Summer for the Gods (Basic Books, New York, 1997, 2006), the idea that Bryan was soundly defeated in Dayton can be traced back to Mencken's biased reporting on the trial and, later on, to a highly creative account of the trial written by Harper's magazine editor Frederick Lewis Allen, in his best-seller, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties, which "presented the trial in cartoon-like simplicity," "reduced fundamentalism to antievolutionism and antievolutionism to Bryan" (ibid., p. 226) and "perpetuated various misconceptions about events at Dayton" (ibid., p. 228) - for example, Allen claimed that "Bryan affirmed his belief that the world was created in 4004 B.C.," when in fact Bryan allowed that the creation of the world "might have continued for millions of years." Years later, the movie, Inherit the Wind would add to the myth, depicting Bryan as having been reduced to a blubbering wreck under Darrow's cross-examination, when the trial transcript of the interrogation clearly shows that he gave as good as he got and maintained his dignity, right up until the very end.
Ninth and finally, Mencken mis-represented the religious views of the people of Dayton, Tennessee, depicting them as a bunch of fundamentalist yokels who were prone to bouts of religious hysteria. The reality is considerably more complicated: many of the townsfolk belonged to the Masons, who had no religious objections to evolution. If we look at religious denominations, we find that there were a large number of Methodists, as well as a number of Episcopalians, who displayed some latitude on the issue. Finally, the largest church in Dayton was not the Church of God, to which Mencken devoted an entire newspaper column, but the Baptists. The court records also show that speeches by evolutionists during the trial were applauded by the crowd: Dudley Malone's speech, in particular, was received with prolonged applause, as Mencken himself pointed out.
Evolutionary tree showing the divergence of modern species from their common ancestor in the centre. The three domains are colored, with bacteria blue, archaea green and eukaryotes red. Under the Butler Act of 1925, it would have been perfectly legal for a science teacher in Tennessee to teach that plants, animals and other organisms evolved - with the sole exception of man. Image courtesy of Tim Vickers and Wikipedia.
Fact: The 1925 Tennessee Butler Act, "An Act prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof" (Tenn. HB 185, 1925) specifically provided:
That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach 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.
The Act additionally outlined that an offending teacher would be guilty of a misdemeanor (not a crime) and fined between $100 and $500 for each offense.
However, William Jennings Bryan thought the fine was a bad idea: he believed (correctly) that it would only serve to create "martyrs" for the cause of evolution. In an article titled, "Darwinism in the Public Schools" (in The Commoner, 23 January 1923, pp. 1-2), Bryan wrote:
A resolution without penalties will be sufficient—a resolution passed by the legislature declaring it unlawful for any teacher, principal, superintendent, trustee, director, member of a school board, or any other person exercising authority in or over a public school, college or university, whether holding office by election or appointment, to teach or permit to be taught in any institution of learning, supported by public taxation, atheism, agnosticism, Darwinism, or any other hypothesis that links man in blood relationship to any other form of life.
We are not dealing with criminals, for whom fine or imprisonment is necessary, but with educated people who have substituted a scientific guess for the Bible, and who are, in the opinion of orthodox Christians, attempting to use public schools for the propagation of doctrines antagonistic to the Bible or to the interpretation of the Bible commonly accepted by professing Christians throughout the United States and the world. Fines and penalties are not only unnecessary, but would, if included in legislative measures, turn attention from the real issue which is the protection of the rights of all in matters of conscience and religious belief.
The right of the tax-payers to decide what shall be taught can hardly be disputed. Someone must decide. The hand that writes the pay-check rules the school; if not, to whom shall the right to decide such important matters be entrusted?"
By the terms of the statute, it could be argued, it was perfectly legal to teach that apes descended from protozoa, to teach the evolutionary mechanisms of variation and natural selection, and to teach the prevailing scientific theories of geology or the age of the Earth. The Act did not even require that the Genesis story be taught. It prohibited only the teaching that man had evolved, or any other theory denying that man was created by God as recorded in Genesis.
What kind of legislation did William Jennings Bryan want to see passed against evolution? Professor Edward Larson answers this question in his book, Summer for the Gods (Basic Books, New York, 1997, 2006):
The legislatures of six different southern and border states actively considered anti-evolution proposals during the spring of 1923, but only two minor measures passed. Oklahoma added a rider to its public school textbook law providing "that no copyright shall be purchased, nor textbook adopted that teaches the 'Materialistic Conception of History' (i.e.) the Darwin Theory of Creation versus the Bible Account of Creation." The Florida legislature chimed in with a non-binding resolution declaring "that it is improper and subversive to the best interest of the people" for public school teachers "to teach as true Darwinism or any other hypothesis that links man in blood relationship to any form of lower life."
The Florida resolution was important because Bryan suggested its language, and later claimed that it reflected his views on the issue--with one significant exception. "Please note," he explained, "that the objection is not to teaching the evolutionary hypothesis as a hypothesis, but to the teaching of it as true or as a proven fact." Bryan agreed with the resolution's focus on human evolution. In his "Menace of Darwinism" speech, he conceded that "evolution in plant life and animal life up to the highest form of animal might, if there were proof of it, be admitted without raising a presumption that would compel us to give a brute origin to man. Bryan asked Florida legislators to outlaw such teaching, however, rather than simply denounce it as improper. But even on this point, the trusting Commoner added, "I do not think that there should be any penalty attached to the bill. We are not dealing with a criminal class." Legislators in Bryan's adopted state compromised by unanimously passing an advisory resolution, rather than a law, thereby avoiding any risk of a lawsuit over their action. Two years later, Tennessee legislators displayed less caution than their Florida counterparts, by opting for a criminal law on the subject, including a penalty provision, and applying it to all teaching about human evolution rather than solely to teaching it as true. This set the stage for the Scopes trial.
###### QUOTES On Bryan's progressive political views: http://www.popcorn78.blogspot.jp/
Religion in Tennessee 1777-1945 page 102:
A. C. Bradbury in http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/tenness4.html:
It has often been claimed that William Jennings Bryan helped to draft the Butler Act, or at least persuaded Butler to putting the Act up for adoption by the Tennessee legislature as part of a wider ant-evolution crusade. Not only is this untrue, however, it also misrepresents Bryan's view on the teaching of evolution in schools.
For a more accurate picture of the situation we only need to look back to 1923, when Bryan did consult with the Florida legislature on the framing of a non-binding resolution, with no penalty attached, which spoke out against the teaching of evolution as a proven fact.
How Mencken mis-represented the facts:
H. L. Mencken totally mis-represented the legal point at issue in the Scopes trial, from the very beginning. He chose to depict the trial as a fight between ignorant creationists and enlightened evolutionists, ignoring the fact that the Butler Act allowed the evolution of plants and animals (apart from man) to be taught in Tennesse science classrooms. In his first report on the trial for The Baltimore Evening Sun, titled Homo neanderthalensis (June 29, 1925), Mencken wrote:
Such obscenities as the forthcoming trial of the Tennessee evolutionist, if they serve no other purpose, at least call attention dramatically to the fact that enlightenment, among mankind, is very narrowly dispersed...
The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. They mirror very accurately his congenital hatred of knowledge, his bitter enmity to the man who knows more than he does, and so gets more out of life. Certainly it cannot have gone unnoticed that their membership is recruited, in the overwhelming main, from the lower orders -- that no man of any education or other human dignity belongs to them. What they propose to do, at bottom and in brief, is to make the superior man infamous -- by mere abuse if it is sufficient, and if it is not, then by law.... The hypothesis of evolution is credited by all men of education; they themselves can't understand it. Ergo, its teaching must be put down.
This simple fact explains such phenomena as the Tennessee buffoonery. Nothing else can.
Mencken continued his willful mis-characterization of the key issue of the Scopes trial when he arrived in Dayton, Tennessee. In his report, Mencken Finds Daytonians Full of Sickening Doubts About Value of Publicity (July 9, 1925), he described the friendly atmosphere of the town: "the Evolutionists and the Anti-Evolutionists seem to be on the best of terms, and it is hard in a group to distinguish one from another." The following day, in his report titled, Impossibility of Obtaining Fair Jury Insures Scopes' Conviction, Says Mencken (July 10, 1925), he seems to have decided that Scopes could not hope to obtain a fair trial, owing to the religious prejudices of the locals: "It has been decided by acclamation, with only a few infidels dissenting, that the hypothesis of evolution is profane, inhumane and against God, and all that remains is to translate that almost unanimous decision into the jargon of the law and so have done."
In subsequent reports, Mencken continually referred to the Butler Act as "the Anti-Evolution law." Here, for instance, is an excerpt from his report of July 13, 1925, titled, Yearning Mountaineers' Souls Need Reconversion Nightly, Mencken Finds:
The Book of Revelation has all the authority, in these theological uplands, of military orders in time of war. The people turn to it for light upon all their problems, spiritual and secular. If a text were found in it denouncing the Anti-Evolution law, then the Anti-Evolution law would become infamous overnight. But so far the exegetes who roar and snuffle in the town have found no such text. Instead they have found only blazing ratifications and reinforcements of Genesis. Darwin is the devil with seven tails and nine horns.
In his report of July 14, 1925, titled Darrow's Eloquent Appeal Wasted on Ears That Heed Only Bryan, Says Mencken, Mencken used the same loaded term to describe the Butler Act:
In his argument yesterday judge Neal had to admit pathetically that it was hopeless to fight for a repeal of the anti-evolution law. The Legislature of Tennessee, like the Legislature of every other American state, is made up of cheap job-seekers and ignoramuses.
The Governor of the State is a politician ten times cheaper and trashier. It is vain to look for relief from such men. If the State is to be saved at all, it must be saved by the courts. For one, I have little hope of relief in that direction, despite Hays' logic and Darrow's eloquence. Constitutions, in America, no longer mean what they say. To mention the Bill of Rights is to be damned as a Red.
The mis-representation persisted in Mencken's report of July 17, 1925, titled Malone the Victor, Even Though Court Sides with Opponents, Says Mencken:
A typical Tennessee politician is the Governor, Austin Peay. He signed the anti-evolution bill with loud hosannas, and he is now making every effort to turn the excitement of the Scopes trial to his private political uses. The local papers print a telegram that he has sent to Attorney-General A.T. Stewart whooping for prayer. In the North a Governor who indulged in such monkey shines would be rebuked for trying to influence the conduct of a case in court. And he would be derided as a cheap mountebank. But not here.
In his last report before the end of the Scopes trial, titled, Tennessee in the Frying Pan (July 20, 1925), Mencken played the role of Cassandra, and forecast bad tidings for the state of Tennessee, asserting that all its intelligent young men would flee the state and study elsewhere:
With the anti-evolution law enforced, the State university will rapidly go to pot; no intelligent youth will waste his time upon its courses if he can help it. And so, with the young men lost, the struggle against darkness will become almost hopeless.
What we find, then, is a clear pattern of persistent journalistic mis-representation by H. L. Mencken of the key issues at stake in the Scopes trial. There is only one name for this kind of conduct: lying.
How strong was the evidence for human evolution in 1925, anyway?
The reader may be wondering how strong the scientific evidence for human evolution was at the time of the Scopes trial in 1925. The short answer is that it was persuasive but far from compelling.
(a) Fossil evidence
Let's begin with the fossil evidence. At the time of the Scopes Trial, the fossil evidence for human evolution was exceptionally meager, consisting of nothing more than the following:
(i) assorted Eurasian fossils of Neanderthal man, who is now known to have been a cousin rather than an ancestor of modern man, and somewhat similar-looking fossils of Rhodesian Man (now known as the Kabwe cranium), of uncertain date, which were discovered at a lead and zinc mine in 1921;
(ii) a massive humanlike jaw found in Mauer, near Heidelberg, Germany, in 1907;
(iii) a small, humanlike 850 cc. cranium found in Java in 1891, and a modern-looking thigh bone that was found 50 feet away;
(iv) Piltdown man, who was "discovered" in England in 1912, and later shown to be a fake. Even in the 1920s, there were many scientists who asserted - correctly, as it turned out - that the modern human skull and ape jaw "found" at Piltdown could not have belonged to the same individual.
Most anthropologists at the time did not consider Australopithecus africanus, discovered by Raymond Dart in South Africa in 1924, to be a human ancestor, as its 400 cc. brain was considered to be too small. Even its name (southern ape of Africa) seemed to imply apelike rather than humanlike affinities.
The fossils listed above could hardly be described as convincing evidence for human evolution. There was no proof that the cranium and thigh bone found in Java, which were said to belong to a creature known as Pithecanthropus erectus (now Homo erectus), actually belonged to the same individual, or even the same species of hominid. As for the jaw (known as "Heidelberg man"), no-one knew what the skull looked like, so there was no telling how apelike its owner was. Finally, the dating of the fossils listed above was very uncertain.
(b) Other arguments for human evolution
Back in 1925, most scientists based their belief in human evolution on arguments from comparative anatomy, embryology and vestigial organs, rather than fossils. However, at the time, such arguments were anything but demonstrative, as can be seen by the article in the following article on Evolution (History and Scientific Foundation) by H. Muckermann in The Catholic Encyclopedia (1909, New York: Robert Appleton Company). I shall quote a few brief excerpts from the article, in order to convey the tenor of the argument:
In general, each bone and organ of man could in some sense be styled ape-like, but in no case does this similarity go so far that the form peculiar to man would pass over into the form which is peculiar to the ape. This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that, according to Ranke and Weisbach, all the efforts to discover a series of bodily formations which would lead from the most apelike savages to the least apelike Caucasians have till now resulted in utter failure, since the apelike forms of organs actually found in some individuals are not confined to a single race or nation, but are distributed throughout all of them. Tailed ape-men, in the proper sense of the word, have no existence. If sometimes tail-like appendages occur, they are genuine deformities, pathological remnants of the individual's embryonic life. Cretins and microcephali are likewise pathological cases. The theory that such were the ancestors of the human species is certainly excluded by the fact that they are unable to procure independently the necessary means of existence...
[T]he blood of man is chemically similar to that of the anthropoids; but it does not follow that this chemical similarity must be attributed to any kinship of race. The mistake arises from the confusion of the ideas "similarity of blood" and "blood-relationship" in the genealogical sense of the term; otherwise it would be at once perceived that the fact of chemical similarity of blood is of no more importance for the theory of evolution than any other fact of comparative morphology or physiology...
The vermiform appendix in man is fully explained by supposing it to have had in antediluvian man a more perfect function of secretion, or even of digestion. Until the paleontological records furnish us with evidence we can only conclude from the occurrence of rudimentary structures that in former ages the whale possessed better developed limbs, that the moles had better eyes, the kiwi wings, etc. In short, rudimentary organs per se do not prove more than that structures may dwindle away by disuse...
In short, there is (1) no evidence that the embryos of mammals and birds have true incipient gill-structures; (2) it is probable that the structures interpreted as such really subserve from the very beginning quite different functions, perhaps only of a temporary nature...
In general it may be said that the biogenetic law of development is as yet scarcely more than a petitio principii. Because (1) the agreement betrween ontogeny and phylogeny has not been proved in a single instance; on the contrary — e.g., the famous pedigree of the horse's foot begins ontogenetically with a single digit; (2) the ontogenetic similarity which may be observed, for instance, in the larval stages of insects may be explained by the similarity of the environment; (3) the ontogenetic stages of organisms are throughout specifically dissimilar, as is proved by a careful concrete comparison. The same conclusion is indicated by Hertwig's and Morgan's modifications of the biogenetic law, which, in turn, are of a merely hypothetical nature.
To be sure, any competent biologist today could point out that humans possess vestigial traits - for instance, inactivated genes for synthesizing vitamin C (but see here) - which were never functional in ancient human beings, but which are still functional in monkeys living today. But the timing of these traits' loss of functionality was not known in 1925, and it was still possible to argue back then that these traits were functional in prehistoric man. In short, a fair-minded inquirer in 1925 would have had to conclude that the case for human evolution, while highly persuasive, was far from proven. Despite the scientific consensus in its favor, it was certainly not "settled science" by any objective measure.
The facts that Mencken omitted to mention:
In his reports on the Scopes trial, Mencken never discussed the contents of Hunter's Civic Biology, a pro-evolution science text that was cited at the trial. The text taught the the Caucasoid race was superior to other races, criticized certain classes of people as "parasites," and endorsed eugenics.
A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems (commonly referred to as Hunter's Civic Biology) was a biology textbook authored by George William Hunter, and published in 1914. High school teachers in the state of Tennessee were actually required to use this book, in 1925. It was for teaching from this textbook, in violation of the recently passed Butler Act, that John T. Scopes was brought to trial in Dayton, Tennessee in the Scopes "Monkey" Trial. The views espoused in the book about evolution, race, and eugenics were common to American Progressives at that time. They especially reflect the views of Charles Benedict Davenport, one of the most prominent American biologists of the early 20th century, whom Hunter cites in the book.
The following excerpts are all taken from Hunter's Civic Biology:
Evolution of Man. -- Undoubtedly there once lived upon the earth races of men who were much lower in their mental organization than the present inhabitants. If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals. He was a nomad, wandering from place to place, feeding upon whatever living things he could kill with his hands. Gradually he must have learned to use weapons, and thus kill his prey, first using rough stone implements for this purpose. As man became more civilized, implements of bronze and of iron were used. About this time the subjugation and domestication of animals began to take place. Man then began to cultivate the fields, and to have a fixed place of abode other than a cave. The beginnings of civilization were long ago, but even to-day the earth is not entirely civilized. (See here.)
The Races of Man. -- At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; The American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America. (See here.)
Improvement of Man. -- If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of the future generations of men and women on the earth might not be improved by applying to them the laws of selection. This improvement of the future race has a number of factors in which we as individuals may play a part. These are personal hygiene, selection of healthy mates, and the betterment of the environment. (See here.)
Eugenics. -- When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics. (See here.)
Parasitism and its Cost to Society. -- Hundreds of families such as those described above exist today, spreading disease, immorality, and crime to all parts of this country. The cost to society of such families is very severe. Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites. (See here.)
The Remedy. -- If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with some success in this country. (See here.)
The reason for Mencken's silence: his own views were even more bigoted than Hunter's!
Why, you might ask, did Mencken say nothing about these diabolical statements that were contained in Hunter's Civic Biology? The answer is that he shared the same views. The following statements are taken from his writings. (Warning: the quotes listed below are extremely offensive and may upset many readers.)
Mencken on black people
In any chance crowd of Southern Negroes one is bound to note individuals who resemble apes quite as much as they resemble Modern Man, and among the inferior tribes of Africa, say the Bushmen, they are predominant. The same thing is true of any chance crowd of Southern poor whites.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1956, Section 379.)
The vast majority of people of their race [the black race – VJT] are but two or three inches removed from gorillas: it will be a sheer impossibility, for a long, long while, to interest them in anything above pork-chops and bootleg gin.
("The Aframerican: New Style", in The American Mercury, February 1926, pp. 254-255. These remarks of Mencken's formed part of a book review in which he praised the literary output of several black intellectuals, who had recently written a book of essays. Mencken's point was that he believed these individuals to be the exceptions to his rule.)
Mencken on Native Americans
The doctrine that there are actually differences between races is well supported by the case of the American Indians... [T]hey have not produced a single man of any genuine distinction in any field save military leadership, and even in that field, despite the opportunities thrown in their way, they have produced only a few... In brief, it has been found after long and costly experiment that the Indians cannot be brought into the American scheme of things. They apparently lack altogether the necessary potentialities. They differ from whites not only quantitatively but also qualitatively.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 378)
Mencken on poor Southern whites
If all the farmers in the Dust Bowl were shot tomorrow, and all the share-croppers in the South burned at the stake, every decent American would be better off, and not a soul would miss a meal.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 377)
If all the inhabitants of the Appalachian chain succumbed to some sudden pestilence tomorrow, the effect upon civilization would be but little more than that of the fall of a meteor into the Ross Sea or the jungles of the Amazon.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Section 50)
The immigration of thousands of Southern hillbillies and lintheads to Baltimore after 1941, set up by the new war plants, had at least one good effect: it convinced native Baltimoreans that the Southern poor white was a good deal worse than the Southern blackamoor... It was really shocking to Baltimore to discover that whites so thoroughly low-down existed in the country. They were filthier than anything the town had ever seen, and more ornery. The women, in particular, amazed it: they were so slatternly, so dirty and so shiftless that they seemed scarcely human.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Section 385)
Mencken on sterilizing people of inferior races
The great problem ahead of the United States is that of reducing the high differential birthrate of the inferior orders, for example, the hillbillies of Appalachia, the gimme farmers of the Middle West, the lintheads of the South, and the Negroes... The theory that inferior stocks often produce superior individuals is not supported by any known scientific facts. All of them run the other way.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 270)
Mencken on sterilizing poor people
Any man, having a child or children he can't support, who proceeds to have another should be sterilized at once.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 321)
Mencken on sterilizing criminals
The objection to sterilizing criminals is mainly theological, and hence irrational.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 6)
Mencken on the relative intelligence of Pentecostals and dogs
The belief that man is outfitted with an immortal soul, differing altogether from the engines which operate the lower animals, is ridiculously unjust to them. The difference between the smartest dog and the stupidest man - say a Tennessee Holy Roller - is really very small, and the difference between the decentest dog and the worst man is all in favor of the dog.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 414)
Mencken on healing the sick
As for a physician, he is one who spends his whole life trying to prolong the lives of persons whose deaths, in nine cases out of ten, would be a public benefit.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 181)
Mencken on the stupidity of the average man
Indeed, it may be said with some confidence that the average man never really thinks from end to end of his life.... My guess is that well over eighty per cent of the human race goes through life without ever having a single original thought. That is to say, they never think anything that has not been thought before and by thousands.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 13)
Mencken on why smart people deserve a privileged existence, and why the rest of us are cockroaches
Every contribution to human progress on record has been made by some individual who differed sharply from the general, and was thus, almost ipso facto, superior to the general. Perhaps the palpably insane must be excepted here, but I can think of no others. Such exceptional individuals should be permitted, it seems to me, to enjoy every advantage that goes with their superiority, even when enjoying it deprives the general. They alone are of any significance to history. The rest are as negligible as the race of cockroaches, who have gone unchanged for a million years.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 344)
Mencken on American stupidity
The belief that man is immortal is a vestige of the childish egoism which once made him believe that the earth is the center of the solar system. This last is probably still cherished by four Americans out of five.
(Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1956, Section 144)
The defense prosecutor Clarence Darrow, who is usually cast as an advocate for the "weak and poor" - also favored deliberately murdering the weakest members of society - newborn babies - if they failed to meet some arbitrary notion of "fit to live":
"Chloroform unfit children. Show them the same mercy that is shown beasts that are no longer fit to live."
God creating the land animals. From a fresco in Vittskovle Church, in Skane, Sweden, dating from the 1480s. Image courtesy of Gunnar Bach Pedersen and Wikipedia.
See http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/tenness9.html on literalism
How Mencken mis-represented the facts:
In his first report on the Scopes trial for The Baltimore Evening Sun, titled The Tennessee Circus (June 15, 1925), Mencken made it clear that he equated "evangelical Christianity" with belief in a six-day creation. Referring to "the case of the Tennessee pedagogue accused of teaching evolution," Mencken wrote:
Either Genesis embodies a mathematically accurate statement of what took place during the week of June 3, 4004 B.C. or Genesis is not actually the word of God. If the former alternative be accepted then all of modern science is nonsense; if the latter, then evangelical Christianity is nonsense....
For weal or for woe, they [evangelical Christians] are committed absolutely to the literal accuracy of the Bible; they base their whole theology upon it. Once they admit, even by inference, that there may be a single error in Genesis, they open the way to an almost complete destruction of that theology. So they are forced to take up the present challenge boldly, and prepare for a battle to the death.
In his second report on the trial, titled Homo neanderthalensis (The Baltimore Evening Sun, June 29, 1925), Mencken had written that "the cosmogony of Genesis is so simple that even a yokel can grasp it." In his report of July 16, 1925, titled, Mencken Declares Strictly Fair Trial Is Beyond Ken of Tennessee Fundamentalists, Mencken depicted Bryan as a "fundamentalist pope," who "hates and fears" science, because of the "barbaric cosmogony that he believes in." Given the context of Mencken's earlier disparaging remarks about Genesis, the term "barbaric cosmogony" in his report of July 16 would certainly have suggested to readers that William Jennings Bryan believed in a literal six-day creation:
Two things ought to be understood clearly by heathen Northerners who follow the great cause of the State of Tennessee against the infidel Scopes. One is that the old mountebank, Bryan, is no longer thought of as a mere politician and jobseeker in these Godly regions, but has become converted into a great sacerdotal figure, half man and half archangel -- in brief, a sort of fundamentalist pope. The other is that the fundamentalist mind, running in a single rut for fifty years, is now quite unable to comprehend dissent from its basic superstitions, or to grant any common honesty, or even any decency, to those who reject them...
The high point of yesterday's proceedings was reached with the appearance of Dr. Maynard M. Metcalfe, of the Johns Hopkins... Then began one of the clearest, most succinct and withal most eloquent presentations of the case for the evolutionists that I have ever heard. The doctor was never at a loss for a word, and his ideas flowed freely and smoothly...
Bryan sat silent throughout the whole scene, his gaze fixed immovably on the witness. Now and then his face darkened and his eyes flashed, but he never uttered a sound. It was, to him, a string of blasphemies out of the devil's mass -- a dreadful series of assaults upon the only true religion. The old gladiator faced his real enemy at last. Here was a sworn agent and attorney of the science he hates and fears -- a well-fed, well-mannered spokesman of the knowledge he abominates. Somehow he reminded me pathetically of the old Holy Roller I heard last week -- the mountain pastor who damned education as a mocking and a corruption. Bryan, too, is afraid of it, for wherever it spreads his trade begins to fall off, and wherever it flourishes he is only a poor clown.
But not to these fundamentalists of the hills. Not to yokels he now turns to for consolation in his old age, with the scars of defeat and disaster all over him. To these simple folk, as I have said, he is a prophet of the imperial line -- a lineal successor to Moses and Abraham. The barbaric cosmogony that he believes in seems as reasonable to them as it does to him. They share his peasant-like suspicion of all book learning that a plow hand cannot grasp. They believe with him that men who know too much should be seized by the secular arm and put down by force. They dream as he does of a world unanimously sure of Heaven and unanimously idiotic on this earth.
In his last report before the end of the Scopes trial, titled, Tennessee in the Frying Pan (July 20, 1925), Mencken was still more disparaging of Bryan's beliefs, implying that he was a flat-earther:
Dayton, of course, is only a ninth-rate country town, and so its agonies are of relatively little interest to the world. Its pastors, I daresay, will be able to console it, and if they fail there is always the old mountebank, Bryan, to give a hand. Faith cannot only move mountains; it can also soothe the distressed spirits of mountaineers. The Daytonians, unshaken by Darrow's ribaldries, still believe. They believe that they are not mammals. They believe, on Bryan's word, that they know more than all the men of science of Christendom. They believe, on the authority of Genesis, that the earth is flat and that witches still infest it. They believe, finally and especially, that all who doubt these great facts of revelation will go to hell. So they are consoled.
What did Bryan really believe?
William Jennings Bryan was a fundamentalist, not a Biblical literalist. Bryan explicitly denied being a literalist during his cross-examination by Clarence Darrow, at the Scopes trial:
Darrow: "Do you claim that everything in the Bible should be literally interpreted?"
Bryan: "I believe everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there; some of the Bible is given illustratively. For instance: 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' I would not insist that man was actually salt, or that he had flesh of salt, but it is used in the sense of salt as saving God's people." (Trial transcript, page 285)
What, then, is a fundamentalist? David Menton answered this question in his online essay, Inherit the Wind: A Hollywood History of the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey' Trial:
Who, we might ask, are these maligned fundamentalists, and why should we be so concerned about offending them? Today we hear the news media apply the term "fundamentalist" not only to Christians but to certain Muslim sects as well. The term, "fundamentalist," now appears to used by the media only in a pejorative sense to label those who are considered to be highly zealous, inflexible and intolerant in their religious or philosophical beliefs. But such an unrestricted definition of "fundamentalism" might even apply to some evolutionists. Historically the term Fundamentalism applied to a loose association of Christians who were influenced by a series of 12 booklets called The Fundamentals which were published beginning in 1909. Fundamentalism was an attempt to get back to the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith which had begun to be eroded in some churches by the growing "modernist" trend around the turn of the century.
The "fundamentals" included five basic doctrines; the inerrancy of scripture, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ and Christ's return in Glory. It should be noted that these beliefs are not simply the creed of a fanatic and insignificant minority in Christendom, as some suggest, but are shared by most Bible believing Christians in the world. Although a miraculous divine creation was not one of The Fundamentals, it too is believed by most Christians. A Gallup Poll in 1982 showed that 44% of all Americans believe that "God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years." Another 38% believe God actively guided the process of evolution and only 9% believe that God had no active part in the process.
Even in Bryan's day, many fundamentalists rejected the notion of a six-day creation, as the Website The Monkey Trial explains:
The Fundamentals, a collection of 12 books published in from 1905 to 1915, sets forth the "fundamentals" of the Christian faith (such as the Virgin Birth, the Deity of Christ, etc.). The Fundamentals discuss the creation of the world but present several theories as orthodox, including the view that creation took place over millions of years and that the "days" of Genesis are actually epochs of time. (See Gen. 2:4 where the word "day" is used to mean an indefinite period of time.)
Not all fundamentalists, therefore, held to a 6-day creation and Bryan himself, as it turns out, did not believe in a literal 6-day creation (!).
Here's what Bryan said when cross-examined by Clarence Darrow on day 7:
Darrow - Would you say that the earth was only 4,000 years old?
Bryan - Oh, no; I think it is much older than that.
Darrow - How much?
Bryan - I couldn't say.
Darrow - Do you say whether the Bible itself says it is older than that?
Bryan - I don't think the Bible says itself whether it is older or not.
Darrow - Do you think the earth was made in six days?
Bryan - Not six days of twenty-four hours.
Bryan didn't claim to know how old the earth was. From the trial transcript (page 296) we read:
Darrow: Mr. Bryan could you tell me how old the earth is?
Bryan: No sir, I couldn't.
Darrow: Could you come anywhere near it?
Bryan: I wouldn't attempt to. I could possibly come as near as the scientists do, but I had rather be more accurate before I give a guess.
Moreover, as the Website The Monkey Trial points out, Bryan did not oppose the teaching of evolution in public schools. What he opposed was teaching the evolution of one species (mankind) as a scientific fact. As Bryan himself put it in a letter he wrote to the New York Times (February 26, 1922):
The only part of evolution in which any considerable interest is felt is evolution applied to man. A hypothesis in regard to the rocks and plant life does not affect the philosophy upon which one's life is built. Evolution applied to fish, birds and beasts would not materially affect man's view of his own responsibilities except as the acceptance of an unsupported hypothesis as to these would be used to support a similar hypothesis as to man. The evolution that is harmful -- distinctly so -- is the evolution that destroys man's family tree as taught by the Bible and makes him a descendant of the lower forms of life. This, as I shall try to show, is a very vital matter.
In His Image by William Jennings Bryan, (Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1922) (see also here), Bryan ridiculed the notion that all animals and plants had sprung from a common stock, and argued that it contradicted Genesis, but he acknowledged that belief in plant and animal evolution was perfectly compatible with belief in the special creation of man, which was the all-important issue for him, owing to the demoralizing influence caused by belief in human evolution:
Is it conceivable that the hawk and the hummingbird, the spider and the honey bee, the turkey gobbler and the mocking-bird, the butterfly and the eagle, the ostrich and the wren, the tree toad and the elephant, the giraffe and the kangaroo, the wolf and the lamb should all be the descendants of a common ancestor? Yet these and all other creatures must be blood relatives if man is next of kin to the monkey. (p. 103)
Does it not strain the imagination to the breaking point to believe that the oak, the cedar, the pine and the palm are all the progeny of one ancient seed and that this seed was also the ancestor of wheat and com, potato and tomato, onion and sugar beet, rose and violet, orchid and daisy, mountain flower and magnolia? Is it not more rational to believe in God and explain the varieties of life in terms of divine Power than to waste our lives in ridiculous attempts to explain the unexplainable? (p. 103)
While evolution in plant life and in animal life up to the highest form of animal might, if there were proof of it, be admitted without raising a presumption that would compel us to give a brute origin to man, why should we admit a thing of which there is no proof? Why should we encourage the guesses of these speculators and thus weaken our power to protest when they attempt the leap from the monkey to man? Let the evolutionist furnish his proof.
Although our chief concern is in protecting man from the demoralization involved in accepting a brute ancestry, it is better to put the advocates of evolution upon the defensive and challenge them to produce proof in support of their hypothesis in plant life and in the animal world. They will be kept so busy trying to find support for their hypothesis in the kingdoms below man that they will have little time left to combat the Word of God in respect to man's origin. Evolution joins issue with the Mosaic account of creation. God's law, as stated in Genesis, is reproduction according to kind; evolution implies reproduction not according to kind. While the process of change implied in evolution is covered up in endless eons of time it is change nevertheless. The Bible does not say that reproduction shall be nearly according to kind or seemingly according to kind. The statement is positive that it is according to kind, and that does not leave any room for the changes however gradual or imperceptible that are necessary to support the evolutionary hypothesis. (pp. 103-104)
Finally, Bryan's opposition to the doctrine of human evolution stemmed primarily from the way in which the theory of evolution was being applied on a practical level in his day, rather than from his interpretation of the Bible.
An assortment of mammals. Notice Homo sapiens sitting among them? (That's Richard Nixon meeting Leonid Brezhnev on June 19, 1973, during the Soviet Leader's visit to the U.S.) Images courtesy of Wikipedia.
In a report titled, Malone the Victor, Even Though Court Sides With Opponents, says Mencken (July 17, 1925), Mencken created the popular myth that William Jennings Bryan denied that man was a mammal, in a speech he made at the Scopes trial:
His [Mencken's] own speech was a grotesque performance and downright touching in its imbecility. Its climax came when he launched into a furious denunciation of the doctrine that man is a mammal. It seemed a sheer impossibility that any literate man should stand up in public and discharge any such nonsense. Yet the poor old fellow did it. Darrow stared incredulous. Malone sat with his mouth wide open. Hays indulged himself one of his sardonic chuckles. Stewart and Bryan fils looked extremely uneasy, but the old mountebank ranted on. To call a man a mammal, it appeared, was to flout the revelation of God. The certain effect of the doctrine would be to destroy morality and promote infidelity. The defense let it pass. The lily needed no gilding.
Mencken repeated this fiction in his final report on the Scopes trial, entitled, Aftermath (September 14, 1925):
Thus he [Bryan] fought his last fight, eager only for blood. It quickly became frenzied and preposterous, and after that pathetic. All sense departed from him. He bit right and left, like a dog with rabies. He descended to demagogy so dreadful that his very associates blushed. His one yearning was to keep his yokels heated up -- to lead his forlorn mob against the foe. That foe, alas, refused to be alarmed. It insisted upon seeing the battle as a comedy. Even Darrow, who knew better, occasionally yielded to the prevailing spirit. Finally, he lured poor Bryan into a folly almost incredible.
I allude to his astounding argument against the notion that man is a mammal. I am glad I heard it, for otherwise I'd never believe it. There stood the man who had been thrice a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic -- and once, I believe, elected -- there he stood in the glare of the world, uttering stuff that a boy of eight would laugh at! The artful Darrow led him on: he repeated it, ranted for it, bellowed it in his cracked voice. A tragedy, indeed! He came into life a hero, a Galahad, in bright and shining armor. Now he was passing out a pathetic fool.
The illustration from Hunter's Civic Biology that William Jennings Bryan vociferously objected to, on the grounds that it made man "so indistinguishable among the mammals that they leave him there with thirty-four hundred and ninety-nine other mammals."
Mencken's report of July 17 (quoted above) related to the fifth day of the trial (July 16, 1925). But if we look at what Bryan said in court that day, we find that he said no such thing. Far from denying that man is a mammal, Bryan was quite happy to grant that man is a primate - which means that he must also be a mammal. What Bryan objected to was not the notion that man is a mammal, but the notion that man is just another mammal - a notion that was tacitly encouraged by the high school science textbook, Hunter's Civic Biology, when it listed man as just one of 3,500 species of mammals, without differentiating him from the other 3,499 species. In other words, the notion that Bryan (quite rightly) attacked in court was the notion that man was an unexceptional mammal.
If we examine the court transcript of the fifth day of the trial (p. 174), we find Bryan arguing that even if men and monkeys belong to the same class - or more accurately, order, to use the correct taxonomic term - this does not settle the question of whether men are descended from monkeys (as Charles Darwin had explicitly stated in The Descent of Man) or whether they are cousins. Moreover, even if men and monkeys belonged in different taxonomic categories, that would not prove that they were not related in the distant past, through their common descent from a marine one-celled organism:
I want to remind your honor that if men and monkeys are in the same class, called primates, that doesn't settle the question, for it is possible that some of those primates are the descendants of other primates, but if it were true that every primate was in a class by itself and was not descended from any other primate, therefore, according to evolution all the primates in that class descended from other animals, evolved from that class, and you go back to the primates, to the one evolved until you get to the one-cell animal in the bottom of the sea.
In other words, Bryan was quite happy to grant that man is a primate. But the primates are just one of many orders of animals belonging to the class of mammals. Hence if Bryan could accept that man is a primate, he must have also accepted the fact that man is a mammal.
On pages 174 to 175 of the transcript, we finally come to Bryan's denunciation of the high school science textbook, Hunter's Civic Biology. To bolster his case, Bryan drew the court's attention to a diagram in the book:
Mr. Bryan - On page 194, we have a diagram, and this diagram purports to give someone's family tree. Not only his ancestors but his collateral relatives. We are told just how many animal species there are, 518,900. And in this diagram, beginning with protozoa we have the animals classified. We have circles differing in size according to the number of species in them and we have the guess that they give. Of course, it is only a guess, and I don't suppose it is carried to a one or even to ten. I see they are round numbers, and I don't think all of these animals breed in round numbers, and so I think it must be a generalization of them.
(Laughter in the courtroom.)
The Court - Let us have order.
Mr. Bryan - 8,000 protozoa, 3,500 sponges. I am satisfied from some I have seen there must be more than 35,000 (sic) sponges. (Laughter in the courtroom.) [Actually, the diagram shows 2,500 species of sponges, not 3,500: at the age of 65, Bryan's failing eyesight may have let him down. - VJT]
Mr. Bryan - And then we run down to the insects, 360,000 insects. Two-thirds of all the species of all the animal world are insects. And sometimes, in the summertime we feel that we become intimately acquainted with them - a large percentage of the species are mollusks and fishes. Now, we are getting up near our kinfolks, 13,000 fishes. Then there are the amphibia. I don't know whether they have not yet decided to come out, or have almost decided to go back. (Laughter in the courtroom.)
But they seem to be somewhat at home in both elements. And then we have the reptiles, 3,500; and then we have 13,000 birds. Strange that this should be exactly the same as the number of fishes, round numbers. And then we have mammals, 3,500, and there is a little circle and man is in the circle, find him, find man.
There is that book! There is the book they were teaching your children that man was a mammal and so indistinguishable among the mammals that they leave him there with thirty-four hundred and ninety-nine other mammals.
(Laughter and applause.)
Notice that in the passage above, Bryan specifically objects to man being placed in a circle "with thirty-four hundred and ninety-nine other mammals," making him "so indistinguishable among the mammals that they leave him there" in the circle. Far from indicating that Bryan thought that man is not a mammal, the passage shows the reverse. Bryan objects to man being placed in a circle along with 3,499 species of "other mammals" (italics mine) - which shows that Bryan himself acknowledged that man is a mammal.
Slightly later, on page 176 of the trial transcript, Bryan reads from Darwin's "Descent of Man" (1871). In the passage below, Darwin declares that man is a member of the class of mammals and that he is descended from Old World monkeys. Bryan takes no exception to the claim that man is a mammal; what he objects to is the claim that man is descended from the monkeys:
"The most ancient progenitors in the kingdom of the Vertebrata, at which we are able to obtain an obscure glance, apparently consisted of a group of marine animals, resembling the larvae of existing Ascidians. These animals probably gave rise to a group of fishes, as lowly organized as the lancelet, and from these the Ganoids, and other fishes like the Lepidosiren must have been developed. From such fish a very small advance would carry us on to the amphibians. We have seen that birds and reptiles were once intimately connected together; and the Monotremata now connect mammals with reptiles in a slight degree. But no one can at present say by what line of descent - the three higher and related classes, namely, mammals, birds and reptiles were derived from the two lower vertebrate classes, namely, amphibians and fishes. In the class of mammals the steps are not difficult to conceive which led from the ancient Monotremata to the ancient Marsupials, and from these to the early progenitors of the placental mammals. We may thus ascend to the Lemuridae, and the interval is not very wide from these to the Simiadae. The Simiadae then branched off into two great stems, the new world and the old world monkeys, and from the latter, at a remote period, man, the wonder and glory of the universe, proceeded."
Not even from American monkeys, but from old world monkeys. (Laughter.) Now, here we have our glorious pedigree, and each child is expected to copy the family tree and take it home to his family to be submitted for the Bible family tree - that is what Darwin says.
Finally, if we examine page 324 of the speech that Bryan wrote but never delivered, we find him expressing himself carefully. Here, he happily affirms that man is a mammal, but insists that he is an exceptional one:
Evolution- the evolution involved. In this case, and the only evolution that is a matter of controversy anywhere - is the evolution taught, by defendant, set forth in Hunter's Civic Biology. The author of the books now prohibited by the new state law, and illustrated in the diagram printed on page 194 of estimates the number of species in the animal kingdom at 518,900. These are divided into eighteen classes, and each class is indicated on a diagram by a circle, proportionate in size to the number of species in each class and attached by a stem to the trunk of the tree. It begins with Protozoa and ends with the mammals. Passing over the classes with which the average is unfamiliar, let me call your attention to a few of the larger and better known groups. The insects are numbered at 360,000, over two-thirds of the total number of species in the animal world. The fishes are numbered at 13,000, the amphibians at 1,400, the reptiles at 3,500, and the birds are 13,000, while 3,500 mammals are crowded together in a little circle that is barely higher than the bird circle. No circle is reserved for man alone. He is, according to the diagram, shut up in the little circle entitled "Mammals," with 3,499 other species of mammals. Does it not seem a little unfair not to distinguish between man and lower forms of life? What shall we say of the intelligence, not to say religion, of those who are so particular to distinguish between fishes and reptiles and birds, but put a man with an immortal soul in the same circle with the wolf, the hyena and the skunk? What must be the impression made upon children by such a degradation of man?
Is there any contemporaneous evidence that Bryan ever uttered the remark attributed to him, that man was not a mammal?
Author and historian Constance Clark, in her article, Evolution for John Doe: Pictures, the Public and the Scopes Trial Debate (Journal of American History, March 2001, Vol. 87 no. 4) writes:
According to Joseph Wood Krutch, the most dramatic event at the Scopes trial of 1925 occurred when William Jennings Bryan announced, incredibly, that he was not a mammal... The trial transcript shows that Bryan did not precisely deny his place within the zoological class Mammalia. He did, however, emphatically object to a diagram that located humans among the mammals or, as he put it, in "a little ring . . . with lions and tigers and everything that is bad!" (See figure 1.)
The diagrammatic balloon that so offended Bryan came from a discussion of evolution in George William Hunter's Civic Biology, the textbook assigned to John Thomas Scopes's biology class. Bryan responded viscerally to the image.2
1 Joseph Wood Krutch, More Lives Than One (New York, 1962), 153; Joseph Wood Krutch, "The Monkey Trial," Commentary, 43 (May 1967), 84.
2 Tennessee Evolution Case: A Complete Stenographic Report of the Famous Court Test of the Tennessee Anti-Evolution Act, at Dayton, July 10 to 21, 1925, Including Speeches and Arguments of Attorneys (Cincinnati, 1925), 174-77; George William Hunter, A Civic Biology Presented in Problems (New York, 1914), 194.
It can be seen from the footnotes that Joseph Wood Krutch's recollections of the trial were written in 1962 and 1967, more than thirty years after the Scopes trial itself. Human recollections after such a great interval of time are liable to be faulty. In addition, by that time, Krutch had read (and doubtless enjoyed) Mencken's reports of the trial, which may well have influenced his own recollections.
In Chapter 7 of her book, God or Gorilla - Images of Evolution in the Jazz Age (John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2008), Constance A. Clark also mentions an additional witness to back up Mencken's assertion that Bryan had declared that man was not a mammal: she writes that Scopes trial lawyer "Arthur Garfield Hays recalled that Bryan 'arose and absolutely and unequivocally refused to be a mammal.'"
Hay's first book discussing the Scopes trial, Let Freedom Ring, was written three years after it, during which time, Hays' own recollections may well have been colored by what he read from Mencken's newspaper reports.
Assuming that Hays' recollections are genuine, my own guess would be that Hays may have (uncharitably) misinterpreted a dramatic statement uttered by William Jennings Bryan during the fifth day of the Scopes trial: "There is that book! There is the book they were teaching your children that man was a mammal and so indistinguishable among the mammals that they leave him there with thirty-four hundred and ninety-nine other mammals." Listening to Bryan, Hays, who likely had a low opinion of Bryan's intellect, may have zeroed in on the phrase, "There is the book they were teaching your children that man was a mammal," and taken it to mean that Bryan was objecting to being called a mammal. Thus Bryan's dramatic flourish in court may have inadvertently confirmed Hays' (and Mencken's) worst suspicions about the stupidity of people opposing the teaching of evolution.
Clarence Darrow (left) and William Jennings Bryan (right) chat in court during the Scopes trial. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Fact: As Dr. David Menton points out in his online essay, Inherit the Wind: A Hollywood History of the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey' Trial, Bryan's kindness, sincerity, amiability and magnanimity was acknowledged even by his political foes:
In his book The Great Monkey Trial, Sprague de Camp repudiates Bryan's conservative Christianity and misses no opportunity to be critical of his scientific views and yet, honesty compelled him to give Bryan credit for at least some of his undeniable virtues:
"As a speaker, Bryan radiated good humored sincerity. Few who heard him could help liking him. In personality he was forceful, energetic, and opinionated but genial, kindly, generous, likable and charming. He showed a praise worthy tolerance towards those who disagreed with him. Bryan was the greatest American orator of his time and perhaps any time." (de Camp, page 37)
...[D]e Camp's description of Bryan's character is entirely consistent with the major biographies of Bryan's life (see Levine, 1965 and Coletta, 1969).
Doug Linder's 2004 online essay, John Scopes, also attests to Bryan's affability in its narration of John Scopes' meeting with Bryan, shortly before the Scopes trial:
On July 7, William Jennings Bryan arrived by train in Dayton, and that evening the Dayton Progressive Club hosted a dinner in his honor. When John Scopes (as "a non-paying deadhead," to use his own words) met Bryan at the banquet, the Great Commoner recalled an earlier meeting when he delivered the address at John's commencement in Salem. "John, we are opposite sides this time. I hope we will not let that interfere in any way with our relationship," Bryan told Scopes. "Mr. Bryan, everyone has the right to think in accordance with the way he sees things and to act accordingly. Believing differently on some issues should not influence the degree of respect and friendship one has for one another." As he took his seat, Bryan replied, "Good, we shall get along fine."
Here's how Mencken described him in his account of the Scopes trial (Darrow's Eloquent Appeal Wasted on Ears that Heed only Bryan, July 14, 1925):
During the whole time of its delivery the old mountebank, Bryan, sat tight-lipped and unmoved. There is, of course, no reason why it should have shaken him. He has those hill billies locked up in his pen and he knows it... The real animus of the prosecution centers in Bryan. He is the plaintiff and prosecutor. The local lawyers are simply bottle-holders for him. He will win the case, not by academic appeals to law and precedent, but by direct and powerful appeals to the immemorial fears and superstitions of man... The fellow is full of such bitter, implacable hatreds that they radiate from him like heat from a stove. He hates the learning that he cannot grasp. He hates those who sneer at him. He hates, in general, all who stand apart from his own pathetic commonness. And the yokels hate with him, some of them almost as bitterly as he does himself.
Here's how Mencken described him in his account of the Scopes trial (Mencken Declares Fair Trial is Beyond Ken of Tennessee Fundamentalists, July 16, 1925):
Bryan sat silent throughout the whole scene, his gaze fixed immovably on the witness. Now and then his face darkened and his eyes flashed, but he never uttered a sound. It was, to him, a string of blasphemies out of the devil's mass -- a dreadful series of assaults upon the only true religion. The old gladiator faced his real enemy at last. Here was a sworn agent and attorney of the science he hates and fears -- a well-fed, well-mannered spokesman of the knowledge he abominates. Somehow he reminded me pathetically of the old Holy Roller I heard last week -- the mountain pastor who damned education as a mocking and a corruption. Bryan, too, is afraid of it, for wherever it spreads his trade begins to fall off, and wherever it flourishes he is only a poor clown.
But not to these fundamentalists of the hills. Not to yokels he now turns to for consolation in his old age, with the scars of defeat and disaster all over him. To these simple folk, as I have said, he is a prophet of the imperial line -- a lineal successor to Moses and Abraham. The barbaric cosmogony that he believes in seems as reasonable to them as it does to him. They share his peasant-like suspicion of all book learning that a plow hand cannot grasp. They believe with him that men who know too much should be seized by the secular arm and put down by force. They dream as he does of a world unanimously sure of Heaven and unanimously idiotic on this earth.
Here's how Mencken described him in his account of the Scopes trial (Malone the Victor, Even Though Court Sides With Opponents, says Mencken, July 17, 1925):
The whole speech was addressed to Bryan, and he sat through it in his usual posture, with his palm-leaf fan flapping energetically and his hard, cruel mouth shut tight. The old boy grows more and more pathetic. He has aged greatly during the past few years and begins to look elderly and enfeebled. All that remains of his old fire is now in his black eyes. They glitter like dark gems, and in their glitter there is immense and yet futile malignancy. That is all that is left of the Peerless Leader of thirty years ago. Once he had one leg in the White House and the nation trembled under his roars. Now he is a tinpot pope in the coca-cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor half-wits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards. His own speech was a grotesque performance and downright touching in its imbecility.
A photograph of Charles Darwin, taken by Messrs. Maull and Fox in 1854. William Jennings Bryan had read Darwin's Origin of Species 20 years before the Scopes trial. He had also debated with scientists such as Henry Fairfield Osborn on the subject of evolution. Far from being an ignorant man, as H. L. Mencken maliciously depicted him in his reports for the Baltimore Sun, Bryan was actually a very well-informed man for his day. He also had a law degree, graduating as valedictorian of his class in 1881. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
In his reporting on the Scopes trial, Mencken persistently depicted William Jennings Bryan as an ignorant man who hated book learning. For instance, in his report for July 14, 1925, titled, Darrow's Eloquent Appeal Wasted on Ears that Heed only Bryan, Mencken wrote:
He hates the learning that he cannot grasp. He hates those who sneer at him. He hates, in general, all who stand apart from his own pathetic commonness.
In his report for July 16, 1925, titled, Mencken Declares Fair Trial is Beyond Ken of Tennessee Fundamentalists, Mencken describes Bryan as glaring hatefully at a scientist who was called to the stand as a witness:
Bryan sat silent throughout the whole scene, his gaze fixed immovably on the witness. Now and then his face darkened and his eyes flashed, but he never uttered a sound. It was, to him, a string of blasphemies out of the devil's mass -- a dreadful series of assaults upon the only true religion. The old gladiator faced his real enemy at last. Here was a sworn agent and attorney of the science he hates and fears -- a well-fed, well-mannered spokesman of the knowledge he abominates. Somehow he reminded me pathetically of the old Holy Roller I heard last week -- the mountain pastor who damned education as a mocking and a corruption. Bryan, too, is afraid of it, for wherever it spreads his trade begins to fall off, and wherever it flourishes he is only a poor clown.
In reality, however, Bryan was a highly educated man. Here is an excerpt from his Wikipedia biography:
Following high school, he entered Illinois College, graduating as valedictorian in 1881. During his time at Illinois College, Bryan was a member of the Sigma Pi literary society. He studied law at Union Law College in Chicago (which later became Northwestern University School of Law)...
Ronald Numbers writes in his book, The Creationists (University of California Press, 1992; paperback edition, 1993):
Like many other nonscientific critics of evolution, Bryan rankled at allegations that he lacked the competence to judge the merits of the case. Thus despite his denial that formal schooling was essential for understanding evolution and his frequent disparaging remarks about the value of higher education, he could not on occasion resist the temptation to parade his own academic qualifications, which included a B.A., an M.A., an LL.B., and at least seven honorary doctorates. If people would not quit calling him an ignoramus, he threatened to print his degrees all over his business cards and then challenge any "son of an ape" to match cards with him. (p. 43)
Mencken inaccurately depicted Bryan as ignorant of science - and in particular, ignorant of the theory of evolution - in his reporting on the Scopes trial. David Menton exposed this nonsensical claim in his online essay, Inherit the Wind: A Hollywood History of the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey' Trial:
It was Bryan, not Darrow, who introduced Darwin's The Descent of Man as evidence in the trial and who quoted from it (transcript, page 176). Bryan proved, for example, that Darwin did in fact claim that man descended from a monkey, a point the defense had tried to deny. Bryan is reported by one of his biographers, Lawrence W. Levine, to have read Darwin's On The Origin of Species already in 1905 — 20 years before the Scopes trial! Although Bryan's reservations about the theory of evolution were certainly influenced by his religious beliefs, he had written many well argued articles which were critical of the scientific evidence used in his day to defend the theory of evolution. Bryan had also carried on a long correspondence on the subject of evolution with the famous evolutionist, Henry Fairfield Osborn. Certainly for a layman, Bryan's knowledge of the scientific evidence both for and against evolution was unusually great.
Re Bryan's debate with Osborn, see http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/wolfmellett.html and http://www.questiondarwin.com/nebraska.html and especially http://www.strangescience.net/osborn.htm and http://creation.com/fresh-look-at-nebraska-man
In a letter to The New York Times, titled, God and Evolution, (26 February 1922), Bryan made it clear that his objection to the teaching of evolution in high classrooms funded by taxpayers was based (in part) upon its hypothetical nature:
The first objection to Darwinism is that it is only a guess and was never anything more. It is called a "hypothesis," but the word "hypothesis," though euphonious, dignified and high-sounding, is merely a scientific synonym for the old-fashioned word "guess."...
The second objection to Darwin's guess is that it has not one syllable in the Bible to support it. This ought to make Christians cautious about accepting it without thorough investigation...
Third, neither Darwin nor his supporters have been able to find a fact in the universe to support their hypothesis. With millions of species, the investigators have not been able to find one single instance in which one species has changed into another, although, according to the hypothesis, all species have developed from one or a few germs of life, the development being through the action of "resident forces" and without outside aid...
Fourth, Darwinism is not only without foundation, but it compels its believers to resort to explanations that are more absurd than anything found in the "Arabian Nights." Darwin explains that man's mind became superior to woman's because, among our brute ancestors, the males fought for their females and thus strengthened their minds. If he had lived until now, he would not have felt it necessary to make so ridiculous an explanation, because woman's mind is not now believed to be inferior to man's....
Our opponents are not fair. When we find fault with the teaching of Darwin's unsupported hypothesis, they talk about Copernicus and Galileo and ask whether we shall exclude science and return to the dark ages. Their evasion is a confession of weakness. We do not ask for the exclusion of any scientific truth, but we do protest against an atheist teacher being allowed to blow his guesses in the face of the student.
Because he had taken the time to know both sides of the issues, Bryan had a very good understanding of evolution and publicly debated in the pages of the New York Times with such evolutionary experts as the president of the American Museum of Natural History, Henry Fairfield Osborn.
Suffragettes marching in a pre-election parade in New York City, on October 23, 1915. William Jennings Bryan was an enthusiastic supporter of women's suffrage, unlike his acid-tongued critic, H. L. Mencken. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Fact: William Jennings Bryan was a political liberal.
An article titled, The Great Commoner, written by the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project (WJBRP) and sponsored by the Agribusiness Council, summarizes Bryan's contributions to American politics as follows:
Bryan's contributions to American political and social history far exceed most presidents. For example, Bryan is credited with early championing of the following: (1) graduated income tax (16th Amendment), (2) direct election of U.S. senators (17th Amendment), (3) women's suffrage (19th Amendment), (4) workmen's compensation, (5) minimum wage, (6) eight-hour workday, (7) Federal Trade Commission, (8) Federal Farm Loan Act, (9) government regulation of telephone/telegraph and food safety, (10) Department of Health, (11) Department of Labor, and (12) Department of Education.
Th article also provides a brief overview of Bryan's career as a progressive politician:
William Jennings Bryan, three-time Democratic nominee for President (1896, 1900, 1908) and one of America’s greatest leaders/orators as the nation came of age at the turn of the 20th century, left an enormous legacy of achievement and public service which has been largely unheralded or forgotten.
A lawyer by training, Bryan hailed from rural Illinois and Nebraska where he rose rapidly as a young legislator (U.S. House of Representatives, 1892-1896) and a populist leader championing the farmer and the worker. Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1896 propelled him to the nomination as one of the youngest presidential contenders in U.S. history. "Boy Bryan" barely lost to William McKinley, a Republican, in an election which historians have largely agreed was fraudulently manipulated and coerced by monied legions of the robber barons and big business (i.e., J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, and others).
Bryan supporters responded by sharpening their attack on monopolies and corruption through the press (Bryan was editor of the Omaha World-Herald) and a series of specific issues/themes which became the platform for the famous Election Campaign of 1900. Among these issues were women's suffrage, direct election of U.S. senators, monetary/trade (tariff) policy, America's role in world peacekeeping, direct income tax, civil and worker/s rights. Bryan's leadership proved a powerful stimulus as nearly all the key themes he championed were adapted/advanced by victorious Republican administrations (McKinley/Roosevelt/Taft) throughout the early 1900s.
Many of Bryan's efforts in 1900 [had been] focused on campaign finance reform and curbing abuses of business trusts and monopolies... In 1902, Bryan played a important role helping President Teddy Roosevelt rein in business abuses and corruption...
Bryan played a decisive role in brokering the nomination of Woodrow Wilson at the Democratic Convention of 1912 in Baltimore, when he helped swing the choice from favorite Champ Clark of Missouri to underdog Wilson on the fifty-sixth ballot. He then served as Wilson’s first Secretary of State until a disagreement over neutrality and the handling of the Lusitania sinking convinced Bryan that Wilson would not adhere to his pledge to keep the Nation out of World War I. Bryan had advanced some important international peacekeeping concepts and even had begun a framework for dispute arbitration when he resigned in June 1915.
David Menton attests to Bryan's progressive political views in his online essay, Inherit the Wind: A Hollywood History of the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey' Trial:
Bryan was not just a "commoner," as even he liked to portray himself, but was also an immensely productive and progressive politician who was the recognized leader of the Democratic party for 30 years and was three times nominated by his Party as their candidate for President of the United States. Although Bryan was never elected president, he did serve as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson during which time he devoted most of his attention to negotiating treaties with foreign nations in an effort to prevent the outbreak of World War I. During his political career, Bryan strenuously fought for some of the most progressive legislation of his time, including the popular election of senators, an income tax, the free and unlimited coinage of silver, requirements for the publication of the circulation and ownership of newspapers, the creation of the department of labor, and women suffrage. Bryan appealed to a broad cross section of people including those whose political views were decidedly liberal. Clarence Darrow himself twice campaigned for Bryan when he ran for President of the United States. Many of the "progressives" who supported Bryan, however, came to despise him for his outspoken Christian convictions, particularly when he dared to speak out against Darwinism.
It is an irony of history that today, most people believe that Bryan's critic, Henry Louis Mencken, was a political liberal, while Bryan is cast as a hide-bound reactionary. Yet as I showed in my previous post, Mencken was a racist and a eugenicist who despised democracy, opposed giving women the vote, opposed the idea that all adult men should be eligible to vote, and even opposed government assistance to the families of struggling farmers during the Depression era.
Bryan's contribution to world peace
William Jennings Bryan also made a lasting contribution to world peace, according to the above-cited article by the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project (WJBRP), titled, The Great Commoner:
Throughout his life, Bryan crusaded for world peace. By religious conviction, he was a pacifist, although he gained a commission in the Spanish-American War. By 1905, Bryan helped advance a peaceful resolution to the Russo-Japanese War by meeting with leaders and delivering a proposal for arbitration in a speech before the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in London, while on a world tour. Bryan's ideas were adopted by President Teddy Roosevelt who later won the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful mediation of the Russo-Japanese War at the Portsmouth Conference later that same year (1905). (Note: Bryan's daughter, Ruth Bryan Owen (1885-1954), who later became the first woman from Florida to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, also spoke before the IPU and carried her father's legacy as a delegate to the San Francisco Conference which established the United Nations after World War II). Bryan’s work as Secretary of State also helped form the conceptual pillars for what later became President Wilson's crusade for America's participation in the League of Nations.
Criticizing universal military training and conscription, Bryan argued, "If we become so Europeanised as to desire to mingle our standards with theirs on foreign battlefields, we will fall an easy victim to the disease of militarism. Our people will then be called from the field and factory to the camp, and to the excitements of the game of man-killing." (Taft and Bryan, World Peace, 114.)
Bryan as an opponent of on anti-Semitism
In 1922, William Jennings Bryan was one of the signatories to a statement, which was signed by 119 "distinguished American Christians," deploring anti-Jewish publications "designed to foster distrust and suspicion of our fellow-citizens of Jewish ancestry and faith." The statement read as follows:
THE PERIL OF RACIAL PREJUDICE
A Statement to the Public
The undersigned citizens of Gentile birth and Christian faith, view with profound regret and disapproval the appearance in this country of what is apparently an organized campaign of anti-Semitism, conducted in close conformity to and co-operation with similar campaigns in Europe. We regret exceedingly the publication of a number of books, pamphlets and newspaper articles designed to foster distrust and suspicion of our fellow-citizens of Jewish ancestry and faith — distrust and suspicion of their loyalty and their patriotism.
These publications, to which wide circulation is being given, are thus introducing into our national political life a new and dangerous spirit, one that is wholly at variance with our traditions and ideals and subversive of our system of government. American citizenship and American democracy are thus challenged and menaced. We protest against this organized campaign of prejudice and hatred not only because of its manifest injustice to those against whom it is directed, but also, and especially, because we are convinced that it is wholly incompatible with loyal and intelligent American citizenship. The logical outcome of the success of such a campaign must necessarily be the division of our citizens along racial and religious lines, and, ultimately, the introduction of religious tests and qualifications to determine citizenship.
The loyalty and patriotism of our fellow citizens of the Jewish faith is equal to that of any part of our people, and requires no defense at our hands. From the foundation of this Republic down to the recent World War, men and women of Jewish ancestry and faith have taken an honorable part in building up this great nation and maintaining its prestige and honor among the nations of the world. There is not the slightest justification, therefore, for a campaign of anti-Semitism in this country.
Anti-Semitism is almost invariably associated with lawlessness and with brutality and injustice.It is also invariably found closely intertwined with other sinister forces, particularly those which are corrupt, reactionary and oppressive.
We believe it should not be left to men and women of Jewish faith to fight this evil, but that it is in a very special sense the duty of citizens who are not Jews by ancestry or faith. We therefore make earnest protest against this vicious propaganda, and call upon our fellow citizens of Gentile birth and Christian faith to unite their efforts to ours, to the end that it may be crushed. In particular, we call upon all those who are molders of public opinion — the clergy and ministers of all Christian churches, publicists, teachers, editors and statesmen — to strike at this un-American and un-Christian agitation.
Bryan's views on imperialism
William Jennings Bryan, "Impreialism" (8 August 1900) by Elizabeth Gardner (Voices of Democracy 5 (2010): 37‐56):
The Treaty of Paris gave Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the United States and included the Philippines for $20 million. Many in the United States embraced the expansion of American territory. Others within the Senate voted against the treaty because of the inclusion of the Philippines. A third group, which included Bryan, pushed for the ratification of the Treaty of Paris, with the understanding that the United States would later grant the Filipinos their independence through a new treaty. Bryan, confident that he could persuade the American people to his view, thus initially sided with the imperialists....[T]he treaty gained the two-thirds majority needed to win ratification in the Senate. The debate over the U.S. role in the Philippines, though, was far from resolved.
The contest over the Philippines between internationalists and anti‐imperialists intensified.63 Influenced by Darwinism and theories of evolution, the internationalists developed their case for overseas expansion with arguments regarding commerce, foreign relations, race, and national responsibility.64 Drawing on the theme of manifest destiny, they claimed that it was the duty of the U.S. government to extend the boundaries of democracy.65 The contiguous continental expansion in the United States had come to a halt,66 and internationalists claimed that expansion to the Philippines and similar outlying areas provided the next logical step.67 They reasoned that it was now time for the United States to assume its rightful place as a leader in the world, if not the next great empire...
This debate over imperialism, which was touched off by the Treaty of Paris, fed into the discourse of the 1900 presidential election. At the 1900 Democratic National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, the Philippine question provoked an animated response from the audience...
As William Jennings Bryan accepted his party's nomination for the presidency, he faced an overflowing crowd... Addressing the fifty thousand people assembled to hear his acceptance speech,... [h]e sought to accurately lay the imperialism issue before the American people, squarely aligning his campaign with progressive values from the outset. Throughout the speech, Bryan continued to integrate this progressive approach, using it to marshal public support for his position, to craft his case for the Democratic Party and Philippine independence, and to secure his election as the nation's 26th president.
The following is a collection of excerpts from William Jennings Bryan's 1900 acceptance speech Imperialism at the Democratic National Convention of 1900.
 What is our title to the Philippine Islands? Do we hold them by treaty or by conquest? Did we buy them or did we take them? Did we purchase the people? If not, how did we secure title to them? Were they thrown in with the land? Will the republicans say that inanimate earth has value but that when that earth is molded by the divine hand and stamped with the likeness of the Creator it becomes a fixture and passes with the soil? If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, it is impossible to secure title to people, either by force or by purchase...
 ... Once admit that some people are capable of self-government and that others are not and that the capable people have a right to seize upon and govern the incapable, and you make force — brute force — the only foundation of government and invite the reign of a despot. I am not willing to believe that an all-wise and an all-loving God created the Filipinos and then left them thousands of years helpless until the islands attracted the attention of European nations.
 If true Christianity consists in carrying out in our daily lives the teachings of Christ, who will say that we are commanded to civilize with dynamite and proselyte with the sword? He who would declare the divine will must prove his authority either by Holy Writ or by evidence of a special dispensation.
 The command "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" has no Gatling gun attachment. When Jesus visited a village of Samaria and the people refused to receive him, some of the disciples suggested that fire should be called down from heaven to avenge the insult; but the Master rebuked them and said: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of; for the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them." Suppose he had said "We will thrash them until they understand who we are," how different would have been the history of Christianity! Compare, if you will, the swaggering, bullying, brutal doctrine of imperialism with the golden rule and the commandment "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
 There is an easy, honest, honorable solution of the Philippine question. It is set forth in the democratic platform and it is submitted with confidence to the American people. This plan I unreservedly endorse. If elected, I will convene congress in extraordinary session as soon as I am inaugurated and recommend an immediate declaration of the nation's purpose, first, to establish a stable form of government in the Philippine islands, just as we are now establishing a stable form of government in Cuba; second, to give independence to the Filipinos, just as we have promised to give independence to the Cubans; third, to protect the Filipinos from outside interference while they work out their destiny, just as we have protected the republics of Central and South America, and are, by the Monroe doctrine, pledged to protect Cuba.
Elizabeth Gardner, in her above-cited essay, describes the powerful effect of Bryan's speech and how it recast the 1900 campaign:
In crafting a narrative of the nation's history and aligning himself with the heroes of that narrative, Bryan's vision for the Philippines became the only moral option for voters. He framed this decision for citizens:
The young man upon reaching his majority can do what he pleases. He can disregard the teachings of his parents; he can trample upon all that he has been taught to consider sacred; he can disobey the laws of the state, the laws of society and the laws of God. He can stamp failure upon his life and make his very existence a curse to his fellow men and he can bring his father and mother in sorrow to the grave; but he cannot annul the sentence, "The wages of sin is death" (72).
For Bryan, the Filipino crisis was not only a question of living up to the nation's moral inheritance, but also of assuring the future of the republic. Having reached maturity, the nation's citizens had to choose their future course in the upcoming election.
In the early 1900s, Bryan said, "There are some who say that we must now have the largest navy in the world in order to terrorize other nations, and make them respect us... There is a better, a safer and a less expensive plan. Instead of trying to make our navy the largest in the world, let us try to make our government the best government on earth... A large standing army is not only a pecuniary burden to the people and, if accompanied by compulsory service, a constant source of irritation, but it is ever a menace to a republican form of government."
(W. J. Bryan, Under Other Flags: Travels, Lectures, Speeches, pp. 242-43, 318.)
The one great blot on Bryan's political career: Bryan's views on race relations
In His Image: http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/12744/pg12744.html http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2716689?uid=3738328&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102610203387 Source: http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24950 Quote from Willard H. Smith, "William Jennings Bryan and Racism," in The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 54, No. 2, April, 1969, pp. 127-49.
There is a further paradox and contradiction in his attitude in that he was not a consistent racist. In some respects, as the following pages will indicate, he was generous and broad- minded; and in others, especially as regards the Negroes, his attitude was acceptable to the strict segregationist.
The papers of William Jennings Bryan also indicate an absence of anti-Semitism either on his part or on the part of those corresponding with him. Since he was support- ed by the Populists, particularly in 1896, this absence of evidence of anti-Semitism is significant... When in 1920 Henry Ford, on the basis of the alleged Protocols of Zion, caused a furor throughout the country by recklessly charging that the Jews were planning world domination, Bryan scathingly denounced the Protocols. "It is astonishing," he wrote, "that anyone would build upon an anonymous publication an indictment against one of the greatest races in history."
As regards Orientals, Bryan was somewhat ambivalent. His personal attitude toward them was friendly, courteous and sympathetic, but in the matter of immigration to this country, he, like many others, was in favor of restriction... The commonly used argument that the exclusion of Oriental workers was necessary to protect American labor was... stressed by Bryan, but the objection was more broadly based and was usually tied to the problem of race and "demoralization to our social ideas."... The Commoner's visit to the Orient confirmed his views on exclusion. No American could become acquainted with the Chinese coolie, he said, without recognizing the impossibility of opening our doors to him.
In discussing Bryan and racism one cannot ignore his relationship with the Ku Klux Klan. Here too there was some ambivalence, and it is not easy to say precisely what the relationship was... Though called the "greatest klansman of our time," this does not necessarily prove that he was ever a member. In fact, he had very little to do with the Klan and, as already indicated, was not in sympathy with its program of racial and religious intolerance toward Jews and Roman Catholics... Bryan nevertheless did not take the forthright position against the Klan that many thought he should have when the organization became an issue again in the 1920's. Especially was this true of the Democratic convention of 1924 in New York where the issue of condemning the Klan by name became a heated one. Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, for example, referring to Bryan as "unequivocally silent," thought that the Klan could have been stifled at the convention had he been "true to his mettle and not metal."
[Bryan wrote regarding the KKK:] "This organization combines about all the race prejudices we have in this country. ... It is unfortunate that we should have any organization built upon prejudice against any group, and superlatively unfortunate to have an organization built upon all the prejudice combined. The question is how to deal with the situation. I have never been converted to the doctrine of fighting the devil with fire and I do not believe that an appeal to prejudice will prove effective in fighting this organization. Prejudice is a factor that has to be reckoned with and it implies ignorance on the part of those prejudiced. The only remedy for ignorance is enlightenment and I am sure that enlightenment will prove a remedy in this case."
His attitude toward Negro race relations, however, was much less generous and was quite inconsistent with his emphasis on democracy, equality, and rule by the people.
In 1901, for instance, there appeared in The Commoner a long editorial on "The Negro Question" [regarding] the recent invitation of President Theodore Roosevelt to Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House, which, said Bryan, "was unfortunate, to say the least."... He went on to say that there were four phases of the race question as regards our Negro population: legal rights, educational opportunities, political privileges, and social status. As to the first, legal rights, [Bryan said] Negroes had the same rights under the federal and state constitutions as the whites. Then, as was so often the case, Bryan felt called upon to defend his position on imperialism and attack the Republican argument that the colored man in the South and the brown man in the Philippines were being similarly treated. In defending southern policy, the Commoner spoke more about the theoretical position of the colored than about their realistic, practical position. In none of the southern states, he unrealistically and naively argued, "has an attempt been made to take from the negro the guarantees enumerated in our constitution and the bill of rights." But "the Filipino in the orient and the Porto Rican in the West Indies are denied the protection of the constitution."
African-American Democrats Speak Out Against U.S. Imperialism. In this statement during the 1900 presidential election, the Negro National Democratic League criticizes the Republican administration's expansionist foreign policy, and gives its endorsement to the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan.
Bryan and the Klan
Racism and the Public's Perception of Evolution, by Randy Moore (University of Minnesota) in Reports of the NCSE, Vol. 22, Issue 3, May-June 2002.
Eigen's Political & Historical Quotations - Bryan, William Jennings (Quotation number 14064) quotes Bryan as declaring at the Democratic National Convention of 1924: "We can exterminate Ku Kluxism better by recognizing their honesty and teaching them that they are wrong."
Let’s Have William Jennings Bryan Day! (The Sensuous Curmudgeon, 8 February 2009)
Bryan's racism and alleged pacifism - Above the World: William Jennings Bryan's View of the American Nation in International Affairs by Arthur Bud Ogle, in Nebraska History 61 (1980): 153-171. Discusses Bryan's racism and alleged pacifism.
He assumed that to remain potent the United States must remain pure - in terms of both ideal and racial composition. Bryan expressed alarm at the "Yellow Peril's" threat to "white supremacy." The essential homogeneity of the nation would be destroyed by the inclusion of oriental Filipinos in the citizenry. As he reiterated in The Commoner, America must "insist upon the unity and homogeneousness of our nation." Rather than a return to a mythic past, Bryan's racism reflected passionate commitment to his concept of a vital nation.(23) (p. 157)
23. The Commoner (Vols. 1 and 2, June 30 and December 6, 1901, and February 21, 1902); Bryan, Speeches, Volume II, 11; Rubin Frands Weston, Racism in U.S. Imperialism (Columbia, South Carolina, 1972).
William Jennings Bryan and Racism in The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 54, No. 2, April 1969.
...[I]t is surprising and ironical to discover a contradiction in his life that certainly did not square with his much-vaunted talk about democracy and rule by the people. This was Bryan's attitude towards race relations. There is a further paradox and contradiction in his attitude in that he was not a consistent racist. In some respects, as the following pages will indicate, he was generous and broad-minded; and in others, especially as regards the Negroes, his attitude was acceptable to the strict segregationist. (p. 127)
William Jennings Bryan Redux by Mark Tooley, March 10, 2009.
...Bryan did not critique Darwinism as racist. Although probably not personally racist, Bryan's populist coalition and the Democratic Party included the segregated South, so blacks were omitted in his appeal to the common man. Sadly, Bryan's final great political act was urging the 1924 Democratic Convention, successfully, to table an anti-Klan resolution.
John Thomas Scopes, the teacher at the center of the Scopes trial. According to Scopes' recollections, Bryan was "knocked down" by the rousing speech delivered by Dudley Malone for the defense, but he recovered the following day. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
In his article, Bringing Trials to Big Screens (in Law Studies (Bar-Ilan University), 2005), lawyer Alan Dershowitz argues that if anything, Bryan got the better of Darrow in the crossexamination:
The actual William Jennings Bryan was no simple-minded literalist, and he certainly was not the bigot portrayed in the film. He was a great populist who cared deeply about equality and about the downtrodden.
Indeed, one of his reasons for becoming so deeply involved in the campaign against evolution was that Darwin's theories were being used - misused, it turns out - by racists, militarists, and nationalists to further some pretty horrible programs...
Indeed, the very book — Hunter's Civic Biology — from which John T. Scopes taught Darwin's theory of evolution to high school students in Dayton, Tennessee, contained dangerous misapplications of that theory...
It should not be surprising, therefore, that William Jennings Bryan, who was a populist and an egalitarian, would be outraged — both morally and religiously - at what he believed was a direct attack on the morality and religion that had formed the basis of his entire political career.
Nor was Bryan the know-nothing biblical literalist of Inherit the Wind. For the most part, he actually seems to have gotten the better of Clarence Darrow in the argument over the Bible (though not in the argument over banning the teaching of evolution). To Darrow's question, "Do you think the earth was made in six days?" Bryan's actual answer was: "Not six days of twenty-four hours." He then proceeded to suggest that these "days" were really "periods," and that the creation may have taken "6,000,000 years or ... 600,000,000 years."
When Darrow questioned Bryan about the Biblical story of Joshua ordering the sun to stand still, he obviously expected Bryan to claim that the sun orbited around the earth, as the Bible implies. But Bryan disappointed him by testifying that he believed that "the earth goes around the sun." He then proceeded to explain why the divinely inspired author of the Joshua story "may have used language that could be understood at that time." All in all, a reading of the transcript shows Bryan doing quite well defending himself, while it is Darrow who comes off quite poorly, in fact, as something of an antireligious cynic.
Bryan, of course, won the case at trial, although the judgment of history — and eventually the Supreme Court—would eventually be in Darrow's favor. Still, a close reading of the transcript in this case discloses more complex lessons than the easy ones available in the stylized version of events in Inherit the Wind.
Professor Douglas O. Linder, in his essay, State v. John Scopes: A Final Word, argues that both sides felt that they had won, at the end of the Scopes trial:
Each side came away feeling their cause had been advanced in Dayton. Russel D. Owen, writing in the New York Times, reported, "Each side withdrew at the end of the struggle satisfied it had unmasked the absurd pretensions of the other." (Edward Larson, Summer for the Gods, p 201.)
In his article, William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes trial: A Fundamentalist Perspective (Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 4 (Fall 1999): 51–83), Professor Gerald L. Priest presents eyewitness evidence that Darrow's blistering crossexamination of Bryan on the sixth day of the trial did not result in a humiliation for Bryan, as Mencken had claimed in his reports:
When an eye-witness of the trial, H. J. Shelton, was asked if Bryan did an adequate job of defending the fundamentalist position, he replied,
Bryan did hold his own, so to speak, against the probing questions of Darrow, who did bring up some of the age-old biblical questions having no pat answer. Darrow tried in every way to confuse Bryan by twisting questions... but...Darrow, who was badgering him, [asked]...what this narrator considers many foolish questions that could only be answered in the way that Bryan did respond. The prosecution [Tennessee Attorney General A. T. Stewart] did object many times to Darrow's line of questioning. (1999, p. 69)
Nor was Bryan personally crushed by being denied the opportunity to deliver his final speech against evolution at the Scopes trial, as is commonly alleged. To quote Professor Priest again:
The trial must have taken a heavy toll on Bryan. He was not a well man to begin with. After the lengthy and intense interchange with Darrow, he learned that he would not be allowed to question him in court. This had to be a great disappointment to him, and perhaps contributed to his death five days after the trial. Yet during those final days he was a bustle of activity: speaking to large groups of people nearly every day, traveling over two hundred miles, issuing statements to the press, and finally, editing what he considered "the mountain peak of my life's efforts," the last speech he had intended to give in court. It was a composite of all the earlier arguments he had given against evolution. He wrote Norris what the Texas preacher considered his last letter:
Well, we won our case. It woke up the community if I can judge from letters and telegrams. Am just having my speech (prepared but not delivered) put into pamphlet form. Will send you a copy. I think it is the strongest indictment of evolution I have made. Much obliged to you for your part in getting me into the case. Much obliged too for [L. H.] Evridge [licensed court stenographer sent by Norris to cover the trial]. He is a delightful [man] and very efficient. I wish you would let me correct my part in the trial before you publish it. Sorry you were not there.
Professor Priest explains that it was not until several years after the Scopes trial that the myth that Bryan had been mauled in his encounter with Darrow gained widespread acceptance, largely thanks to propagandizing by best-selling author Frederick Allen:
Many commentators, both liberals and conservatives, have suggested that the trial was a turning point in fundamentalist fortunes, a "historical watershed; worse still, a rout, fundamentalism's 'Waterloo.'"(88) However, careful examination of the facts indicate that this stereotype is undeserving of both Bryan and the fundamentalist movement. In his masterful evaluation of the trial, Paul Waggoner documents the fact that during the first few years following Dayton (1925–1931), "critical observers did not regard the Scopes trial as a turning point in the fundamentalist controversy."(89) It was not until what he calls the "second phase," running from 1931 to about 1965, that the critical view, or "new consensus" view as he calls it, came into vogue. This view was precipitated by Frederick Allen's satire of the 1920s in which he climaxes the work by virtually lampooning Bryan, and refers to the trial as a travesty of intellectualism.
It was a savage encounter, and a tragic one for the ex-Secretary of State...he died scarcely a week later. And he was being covered with humiliation. The sort of religious faith which he represented could not take the witness stand and face reason as a prosecutor.... Theoretically, Fundamentalism has won, for the law stood. Yet really Fundamentalism has lost. Legislators might go on passing antievolution laws...but civilized opinion everywhere had regarded the Dayton trial with amazement and amusement, and the slow drift away from Fundamentalism certainly continued.(90)
Waggoner remarks that "it was not so much the passage of time as it was the popularity of Allen that enshrined Dayton, Tennessee, as the bottomless pit into which fundamentalism stumbled in the summer of 1925."(91) It is this warped image of the trial and Bryan that a number of writers have parroted and have thus perpetuated the negative image indelibly imprinted on the minds of those willing to uncritically accept it.(92)
The trial and even the death of Bryan, far from defeating fundamentalism and its anti-evolutionary crusade, only served to advance them.(93) (1999, pp. 72-73)
89 Paul M. Waggoner, "The Historiography of the Scopes Trial: A Critical Re-Evaluation," Trinity Journal 5 (Autumn 1984), p. 156.
90 Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's (reprint of 1931 ed., New York: Harper and Row, 1957), pp. 205–6.
91 Waggoner, "Historiography," p. 164.
92 Most notably, those who followed Allen’s interpretation were: Gaius Glen Atkins, Religion in Our Times (New York: Round Table Press, 1932); Mark Sullivan, Our Times: The United States, 1900–1925 The Twenties, 6 vols. (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1935), 6:568, 644–5; and a popular history textbook in the 1940s and 50s, William W. Sweet, The Story of Religion in America (2nd ed., New York: Harper & Brothers, 1939), p. 572....
93 Willard Gatewood writes, "To assert, as the liberal Christian Century ["Vanishing Fundamentalism," 43 (June 24, 1926): 797–99] did, that fundamentalism was a 'vanishing' phenomenon was as naive as the widely held view that anti-evolution sentiment somehow dissipated in the wake of the Scopes trial" ("From Scopes to Creation Science: The Decline and Revival of the Evolution Controversy," South Atlantic Quarterly 83 [Autumn 1984]: 366).
Michael Hannon, in his essay, Scopes Trial (1925) offers a similar assessment:
Darrow v. Bryan – Who Won?
Much has been written about the courtroom confrontation between Darrow and Bryan. It has been described as "the most famous, and one of the most misrepresented, episodes in the Scopes trial and one of the most legendary episodes in American legal history." The accounts vary greatly in describing which side won. The further one moves from Dayton, Tennessee in 1925, both in terms of time and geographic distance, the more the accounts generally favor Darrow. Contemporary accounts are much more favorable to Bryan, with some claiming that Bryan won or at least held his own. Accounts written later claim that Darrow won and succeeded in making Bryan look bad on the stand. However, even the contemporary accounts differed somewhat depending on whether they came from national newspapers or from Tennessee papers. (p. 82)
Bryan did not rest after the trial, but continued his crusade.. Just hours after the trial ended, he released questions directed at the defense attorneys asking their views on God, the Bible, immortality and miracles. Darrow immediately replied with his agnostic viewpoints. (p. 78)
Bryan was not able to deliver his prepared address during the trial. But just hours before he died, he had made arrangements to have the address published. It was titled Bryan's Last Speech: Undelivered Speech to the Jury in the Scopes Trial. In this speech, Bryan sought to clarify what he saw as the real issues and debunk the arguments of the evolutionists. (p. 79)
According to the Website, The MonkeyTrial.com, which compares scenes from the "Inherit the Wind" movie with factual information from actual Scopes Trial, a strong case can be made that Bryan was the winner at the Scopes trial:
The evidence for Bryan's victory in Dayton is actually quite compelling.
First, Bryan was believed to have won the cross-examination conducted by Darrow in the judgment of a large majority of people who observed it — a lucky crowd that did not include the vast majority of reporters who were otherwise in Dayton to cover the trial. This odd circumstance is the result of the suffocating heat that summer and Darrow calling Bryan to the stand at the end of Malone's reading long and boring scientific statements into the trial record. Because these statements were going to be provided later in written form, nearly every reporter in Dayton took off swimming at a local pond. When they returned, the cross-examination was over and they were forced to report on the trial's most dramatic event second-hand from a biased source. We suspect the editors of these reporters were never aprised of this humorous incident, and the biased source kept it under his hat until he wrote his autobiography, Center of the Storm by . . . John Scopes!
An analysis of the trial transcript, further, eveals that Bryan’s answers were reasonable, intelligent, and often very witty. Darrow, on the other hand, lost his temper, insulted Bryan repeatedly, and asked questions for which there were obviously no known answers. (For example, Darrow asked Bryan, "Do you know anything about how many people there were in Egypt 3,500 years ago, or how many people there were in China 5,000 years ago?” When Bryan simply answered as any honest person would, "No," Darrow then rolled his eyes and asked, "Well, have you ever tried to find out?"). Alan Dershowitz concurs with this assessment when he writes, "For the most part, [Bryan] actually seems to have gotten the better of Clarence Darrow in the argument over the Bible."
Second, as noted by Prof. Cornelius (cited earlier), after the trial there was a quick and enthusiastic effort to found a new college in Dayton in honor of Bryan. (Bryan College stands today. Click here for more information.) This effort is hard to reconcile with the portrayal of Bryan as badly beaten, shamed, and practically deranged. To suggest that such support for Bryan can be attributed to the lunacy of Dayton’s leading citizens and thousands of financial supporters, of course, further complicates the more limited assertion that just Bryan was the lunatic. (There is, incidentally, no Clarence Darrow College.)
Third, after Dayton the ACLU tried strenuously to remove Darrow from the Scopes case because his blatantly anti-Christian and otherwise offensive conduct at the trial hindered the cause for academic freedom rather than advanced it. If Darrow was so brilliant in Dayton, then why did the ACLU attempt to fire him after the case—and not once, but several times, using almost every means of influence available to them? (See Larson, Summer for the Gods, pp. 197 ff.) So much for the feisty but honorable secular saint portrayed in Inherit the Wind and elsewhere. He was a pariah to those in a position to judge: the ACLU.
Fourth, the political movement to pass statutes preventing the teaching that mankind evolved grew for several years after the trial in Dayton. (Like the Butler Act, those statutes similarly only pertained to teaching as fact the evolution of mankind in the public schools.) If Bryan were crushed in Dayton, the movement he backed would likely have died with him rather than continue on for many years thereafter.
Fifth, Darrow was caught in a very fundamental contradiction in court and it was he (rather than Bryan) who arguably took the soundest drubbing of the two in Dayton. This incident is almost never mentioned in trial accounts and the circumstances were as follows: After Darrow had repeatedly trumpeted the benefits and necessity of teaching Darwinian evolution to high schoolers in the Tennessee schools, Bryan quoted from the trial transcript of a first-degree murder case that had occurred one year earlier in Illinois, the famous case of Leopold and Loeb. In this earlier case, Darrow said that his client (Loeb) should not be given the death penalty because it was the teachers and the universities that had filled the young murderer’s mind with Darwinian ideas—ideas that more evolved humans should be able to kill and destroy lesser humans with impunity. Darrow, in other words, had just defended a teen-aged murderer the year before who was a dedicated follower of Darwin and Nietzsche and who had become so enthralled with the “survival of the fittest” cult that he had killed another boy in cold blood just to demonstrate his superiority. Darrow, in Loeb's defense, blamed the teachers of the dangerous (not the ideas themselves) and so naturally, in the Scopes trial, he attempted to backtrack from the implication that what those teachers had taught Loeb was — literally! — deadly. But the attempt was futile and Darrow abandoned it with the empty assertion that his words in that earlier case spoke for themselves and needed no defense. (pp. 178ff of the trial transcript)
During the trial Darrow asked one of Scopes' students whether the teaching that he (the student) had evolved from a single cell had "hurt" him any. The boy responded "No" and the question got a few laughs. The question was put into a more sober light by Bryan later in the trial when, in the context of the Leopold and Loeb discussion, Bryan recalled Darrow's question to the student and asked, "Why didn't he ask the boy's mother?" (pp. 128 and 180 of the trial transcript) Indeed, one wonders if Darrow ever asked Loeb if the doctrine ever hurt him . . . or his murder victim.
Sixth, the lead Prosecutor for the State of Tennessee (Tom Stewart) went on to run for U.S. Senate and won twice. It is unlikely that if he was widely perceived to have participated in a bungled trial of such size and importance that he would then go on to win two important state-wide elections.
Seventh, according to trial historian (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Edward Larson, the idea that Bryan was badly defeated in Dayton can be traced back most directly to the highly-biased accounts of the trial by Mencken and, just as importantly, to a popular historian (as opposed to an academic historian) who wrote a "creative" account of the trial in the 1930s, years after the actual events. (See Larson, Summer for the Gods, p. 225.) Inherit the Wind, however, has easily been the most influential sculptor of the public’s impression of what happened in 1925.
Eighth, after the cross-examination, it was Darrow who chickened out from a head-to-head delivery of each sides' closing arguments to the jury, not Bryan.
On the other hand, in the sense that evolution is the only explanation for life on earth that can be taught in public schools today, victory for the Defense in the Scopes trial cannot be denied. In fact, it can be described as total. An explanation for this result, however, might better be found outside the limited circumstances of the Scopes trial in 1925 given the compelling evidence suggested above for Bryan’s victory in Dayton.
See http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/tenness9.html on Darrow's cross-examination
In his reporting on the Scopes trial, H. L. Mencken depicted William Jennings Bryan as crushed and humiliated by the fiery speech delivered by defense lawyer Dudley Malone, in reply to Bryan's speech.
His [Bryan's] own speech was a grotesque performance and downright touching in its imbecility. Its climax came when he launched into a furious denunciation of the doctrine that man is a mammal. [We have already seen that Mencken was simply lying here, and that Bryan said no such thing. See Lie Number 4 above - VJT.] It seemed a sheer impossibility that any literate man should stand up in public and discharge any such nonsense. Yet the poor old fellow did it. Darrow stared incredulous. Malone sat with his mouth wide open. Hays indulged himself one of his sardonic chuckles. Stewart and Bryan fils looked extremely uneasy, but the old mountebank ranted on. To call a man a mammal, it appeared, was to flout the revelation of God. The certain effect of the doctrine would be to destroy morality and promote infidelity. The defense let it pass. The lily needed no gilding.
The effect of the whole harangue was extremely depressing. It quickly ceased to be an argument addressed to the court -- Bryan, in fact, constantly said "My friends" instead of "Your Honor" -- and became a sermon at the camp-meeting. All the familiar contentions of the Dayton divines appeared in it -- that learning is dangerous, that nothing is true that is not in the Bible, that a yokel who goes to church regularly knows more than any scientist ever heard of. The thing went to fantastic lengths. It became a farrago of puerilities without coherence or sense. I don't think the old man did himself justice. He was in poor voice and his mind seemed to wander. There was far too much hatred in him for him to be persuasive...
Malone was put up to follow and dispose of Bryan, and he achieved the business magnificently. I doubt that any louder speech has ever been heard in a court of law since the days of Gog and Magog... In brief, Malone was in good voice. It was a great day for Ireland. And for the defense. For Malone not only out-yelled Bryan, he also plainly out-generaled and out-argued him. His speech, indeed, was one of the best presentations of the case against the fundamentalist rubbish that I have ever heard.
It was simple in structure, it was clear in reasoning, and at its high points it was overwhelmingly eloquent. It was not long, but it covered the whole ground and it let off many a gaudy skyrocket, and so it conquered even the fundamentalists...
The whole speech was addressed to Bryan, and he sat through it in his usual posture, with his palm-leaf fan flapping energetically and his hard, cruel mouth shut tight. The old boy grows more and more pathetic. He has aged greatly during the past few years and begins to look elderly and enfeebled. All that remains of his old fire is now in his black eyes. They glitter like dark gems, and in their glitter there is immense and yet futile malignancy. That is all that is left of the Peerless Leader of thirty years ago. Once he had one leg in the White House and the nation trembled under his roars. Now he is a tinpot pope in the coca-cola belt and a brother to the forlorn pastors who belabor half-wits in galvanized iron tabernacles behind the railroad yards.
The reality, as one might suspect by now, was somewhat different. According to the written recollections of the teacher at the center of the trial, John Thomas Scopes (Reflections on the Scopes Trial - Forty Years After, 1965), Bryan gave a mesmerizing speech and received a long and spirited ovation. Malone's speech in reply to Bryan was indeed a magnificent one, which outclassed Bryan's. Bryan acknowledged that it was the greatest speech he'd ever heard. However, the speech's crushing effect on Bryan was temporary. Bryan, fighter that he was, was back to form the following day. Here is how Scopes recalls Bryan's speech, Malone's reply, and the aftermath:
Bryan addressed the Judge, then immediately turned to face the spectators. There was no pretense; this was to be a speech to the people, not merely to the court. It was a general defense of his position in his fight for the cause of fundamentalism. I did not pay much attention to the text of the speech, but it was well received by the audience. I remember being lulled into a feeling that I cannot accurately describe. Since I was not listening to what he was saying, but to how he was saying it, I was letting his oratorical talents hypnotize me. Every gesture and intonation of his voice blended so perfectly that it was like a symphony; and yet, the impression was that it was all extemperaneous. The longer he talked (a little more than an hour), the more complete was the control he had over the crows. As I listened I thought Bryan must have sensed victory as he moved toward the climax of his speech. Indeed, it looked as if he had sparked a force and enthusiasm that might lead to victory for fundamentalism in a number of states of the Union. I thought to myself that if something were not done — and done in a hurry — the forces of enlightenment were in for a severe battle. Bryan received a long and spirited — but not boisterous — ovation. No attempt was made seriously to bring order in the court. A few faces in the audience were blank and expressionless; all others showed reverence and worship.
For many in the courtroom, however, Malone's reply was unexpectedly moving. He was not an oratorical wizard like Bryan, but those talents which he possessed, he knew how to use effectively. He was a great dramatic actor, a master at playing upon the emotions and at communicating bitter sarcasm and ridicule behind a screen of pretended sympathy and understanding which produced interest and later endorsement of his actual viewpoint. His answer to Bryan combined with a rapid presentation of the defense of the defense case took only twenty-five minutes. But in that brief time, the people were eating pout of his hand and had, for the time being, forgotten Bryan.
At the conclusion of the speech bedlam broke loose in the form of loud applause. An Irish policeman from Chattanooga was acting bailiff of the court. He was using his night stick to pound on a table near ours. Another officer who had been stationed among the spectators rushed to the bailiff and offered to help restore order. The Irishman replied, "I'm not trying to restore order. Hell, I'm cheering." That night stick must have been spiked with a generous shot of lead, for he split the table top in half and sent splinters of wood flying all over that section of the courtroom. The Judge knew that order could not be restored; accordingly he adjourned the court and ordered the room cleared. After some time and much difficulty, the room was cleared.
Bryan, Malone, and I were the only ones that remained. Bryan, seated in his comfortable chair, had his legs stretched out and was staring at a spot on the floor two or three feet beyond his feet. Malone was partially seated on the defense attorney’s table intently looking at Bryan. I was at the table waiting for one or the other to make the first move. Bryan heaved a big sigh and looked up at Malone. In a subdued, slightly quivering voice, he said, "Dudley, that was the greatest speech I have ever heard." Malone, who had served as Undersecretary of State during Bryan's appointment as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, spoke quietly to his old chief, "Thank you, Mr. Bryan; I am terribly sorry that I was the one that had to do it." It all seemed so plain to me; I thought anyone could have seen what was transpiring. Bryan was crushed.
But after a night's rest was revitalized; his instinct to fight, his courage, and his strong heart would not let him completely surrender. All of his actions and everything he said throughout the remainder of the trial were efforts to mend the damage, reestablish himself with the public, and above all, regain his old spirit and self-confidence....
The people sitting out in the courtroom still considered him their leader. They considered the Bryan-Malone tilt as one round of the fight. Bryan had been knocked down, but he would win in the end.
Scopes goes on to say that Darrow's interrogation of Bryan made him look bad in the eyes of the people:
Bryan tried to stage a comeback, but Darrow blocked him completely. This time, the people who heard and saw the event lost their confidence in Bryan; he would never regain the confidence of many of them.
According to an article by Professor Carol Ianonne titled, The Truth About Inherit the Wind in First Things (February 1997):
It is true that Bryan was not able to deliver the lengthy closing statement he considered his life's "mountain peak," but not because the judge cut short the trial. Rather, after the cross-examination of Bryan (which was stricken from the record the following day), Darrow stated his willingness to accept a guilty verdict in order to move to appeal. This obviated the need for closing statements. Darrow later admitted that the defense had purposely wanted to deprive Bryan of his closing statement for fear of his legendary oratorical powers.
According to David Menton's article on the Scopes trial:
The majority (if not all) of the scientists called by the Defense to testify on behalf of John Scopes in 1925, in fact, belonged to eugenic societies—organizations now regarded as no less (and perhaps more) reprehensible than the dreaded KKK.
According to The Monkey Trial.com, the people of Dayton were quite liberal in their religious opinions:
In 1925, only about half of the citizens of Dayton were church members of various (mostly Protestant) denominations. In a state most heavily populated by the more conservative Baptist denominations, two Methodist (more liberal) congregations were the largest in Dayton, though neither one had as many members as the (secular) Masons. Of the Christian churches, several were "modernist" and did not hold to a literal 6-day creation or the view that the miracles of the Bible (such as the Resurrection) actually occurred.
This is an important fact, for as Ronald Numbers points out in his book, The Creationists (University of California Press, 1992; paperback edition, 1993), there was a considerable diversity of views among the various denominations as to how literally the book of Genesis should be interpreted:
The relative strength of Bryan's following within the churches is difficult to determine, because not all fundamentalists were creationists and many creationists refused to participate in the crusade against evolution. However a 1929 survey of the theological beliefs of some seven hundred Protestant ministers provides some valuable clues. The question "Do you believe that the creation of the world occurred in the manner and time recorded in Genesis?" elicited the following positive responses:
Unfortunately, these statistics tell us nothing about the various ways respondents may have interpreted the phrase "in the manner and time recorded in Genesis." Some perhaps believed that Genesis taught a special creation in six twenty-four hour days, although William Bell Riley (1861-1947), the influential Fundamentalist pastor of the First Baptist Church in Minneapolis, insisted that "there was not an intelligent fundamentalist who taught that the earth was made six thousand years ago; and the Bible never taught any such thing." Like Bryan, Riley followed Dana and John William Dawson in subscribing to the day-age view. (pp. 59-60)
Michael Lienesch vividly portrays the division among and within religious denominations on the anti-evolution issue during the 1920s, in his book, "In the Beginning: Fundamentalism, the Scopes Trial, and the Making of the Antievolution Movement" (The University of North Carolina Press, 2007):
With the introduction of the anti-evolution issue, positions became further polarized. Throughout the early 1920s supporters and opponents staked out sides, determined to define the debate in the most dualistic and uncompromising terms... Religious denominations were divided along the same lines, with Southern Baptists and Presbyterians tending to support anti-evolution efforts, while Northern Baptists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians and Methodists often went on record to express their opposition. But within the churches there were deep differences, as conservative and liberal factions engaged in pitched battle for the control of several of the largest Protestant denominations during the time. Even the most conservative denominations were split; among Southern Baptists, for example, where antievolution foes found many of their firmest friends, there were also powerful foes, that included college presidents, seminary professors, and many editors of the denomination's statewide newspapers. Roman Catholics were divided as well. Some were sympathetic to the movement, sensing that evolution posed a threat to Catholic theology; others opposed it, not least out of an awareness of the anti-Catholicism that ran rampant among so many fundamentalists in the movement. But most Catholics avoided the issue altogether, assuming that it would have no effect on either church doctrine or parochial education. (p. 132)
It would be unfair to conclude, then, that the people of Dayton uniformly supported Bryan.
The people of Dayton were also very tolerant, even of people whose views differed completely from their own. As Dr. David Menton points out in his online essay, Inherit the Wind: A Hollywood History of the 1925 Scopes 'Monkey' Trial, the transcript of the Scopes trial shows that they treated the openly agnostic attorney Clarence Darrow with great courtesy, as Darrow himself admitted during the trial:
"I don't know as I was ever in a community in my life where my religious ideas differed as widely from the great mass as I have found them since I have been in Tennessee. Yet I came here a perfect stranger and I can say what I have said before that I have not found upon anybody's part — any citizen here in this town or outside the slightest discourtesy. I have been treated better, kindlier and more hospitably than I fancied would have been the case in the north." (Trial transcript, pages 225-226, quoted by Menton).
A newspaperman from Toronto was similarly effusive in his praise for the people of Dayton, declaring:
I would like to "express my great appreciation of the extreme courtesy which has been accorded me and my brethren of the press by the court and the citizens of Dayton. I shall take back with me a deeper appreciation of the great republic for which we have felt so kindly, and whose institutions we so magnify and admire." (Trial transcript, page 315, quoted by Menton.)
Indeed, H. L. Mencken himself acknowledged in his early reports that Dayton was anything but a hotbed of fundamentalism, and praised the courtesy of the people who lived there. But as the trial wore on, Mencken gradually transformed the Daytonians in his newspaper columns from fair-minded, tolerant people to fundamentalist fanatics. The transformation took place in three stages.
The first stage dates from Mencken's arrival in Dayton. In his first report (Mencken Finds Daytonians Full of Sickening Doubts about Value of Publicity, July 9, 1925), Mencken paid tribute to the people of Dayton:
The town, I confess, greatly surprised me. I expected to find a squalid Southern village, with darkies (sic) snoozing on the horse-blocks, pigs rooting under the houses and the inhabitants full of hookworm and malaria. What I found was a country town full of charm and even beauty — a somewhat smallish but nevertheless very attractive Westminster or Belair.
The houses are surrounded by pretty gardens, with cool green lawns and stately trees. The two chief streets are paved from curb to curb. The stores carry good stocks and have a metropolitan air, especially the drug, book, magazine, sporting goods and soda-water emporium of the estimable Robinson. A few of the town ancients still affect galluses and string ties, but the younger bucks are very nattily turned out. Scopes himself, even in his shirt sleeves, would fit into any college campus in America save that of Harvard alone.
Nor is there any evidence in the town of that poisonous spirit which usually shows itself when Christian men gather to defend the great doctrine of their faith. I have heard absolutely no whisper that Scopes is in the pay of the Jesuits, or that the whisky trust is backing him, or that he is egged on by the Jews who manufacture lascivious moving pictures. On the contrary, the Evolutionists and the Anti-Evolutionists seem to be on the best of terms, and it is hard in a group to distinguish one from another....
Rhea county, in fact, is proud of its tolerance, and apparently with good reason. The klan has never got a foothold here, though it rages everywhere else in Tennessee. When the first kleagles came in they got the cold shoulder, and pretty soon they gave up the county as hopeless. It is run today not by anonymous daredevils in white nightshirts, but by well-heeled Free-masons in decorous white aprons. In Dayton alone there are sixty thirty-second-degree Masons -- an immense quota for so small a town...
The trial of Scopes is possible here simply because it can be carried on here without heat -- because no one will lose any sleep even if the devil comes to the aid of Darrow and Malone, and Bryan gets a mauling...
We are not in the South here, but hanging on to the North. Very little cotton is grown in the valley. The people in politics are Republicans and put Coolidge next to Lincoln and John Wesley. The fences are in good repair. The roads are smooth and hard. The scene is set for a high-toned and even somewhat swagger combat. When it is over all the participants save Bryan will shake hands.
Remarkably, by the end of the trial, Mencken seems to have completely reversed his opinion of Dayton. In his last report before the end of the Scopes trial, titled, Tennessee in the Frying Pan (July 20, 1925), Mencken wrote:
Dayton, of course, is only a ninth-rate country town, and so its agonies are of relatively little interest to the world. Its pastors, I daresay, will be able to console it, and if they fail there is always the old mountebank, Bryan, to give a hand. Faith cannot only move mountains; it can also soothe the distressed spirits of mountaineers. The Daytonians, unshaken by Darrow's ribaldries, still believe. They believe that they are not mammals. They believe, on Bryan's word, that they know more than all the men of science of Christendom. They believe, on the authority of Genesis, that the earth is flat and that witches still infest it. They believe, finally and especially, that all who doubt these great facts of revelation will go to hell. So they are consoled...
That the rising town of Dayton, when it put the infidel Scopes on trial, bit off far more than it has been able to chew -- this melancholy fact must now be evident to everyone... But when the main guard of Eastern and Northern journalists swarmed down, and their dispatches began to show the country and the world exactly how the obscene buffoonery appeared to realistic city men, then the yokels began to sweat coldly, and in a few days they were full of terror and indignation... When people recall it hereafter they will think of it as they think of Herrin, Ill., and Homestead, Pa. It will be a joke town at best, and infamous at worst.
In the second stage, Mencken started changing his tune, focusing on the alleged fundamentalism of the locals. Here is an excerpt from his report for July 11, 1925 (Mencken likens Trial to a Religious Orgy, with Defendant as Beelzebub):
The courthouse is surrounded by a large lawn, and it is peppered day and night with evangelists. One and all they are fundamentalists and their yells and bawlings fill the air with orthodoxy. I have listened to twenty of them and had private discourse with a dozen, and I have yet to find one who doubted so much as the typographical errors in Holy Writ. They dispute raucously and far into the night, but they begin and end on the common ground of complete faith...
Dr. Kelly [a fundamentalist scientist from Boston whom Mencken knew very well - VJT] should come down here and see his dreams made real. He will find a people who not only accept the Bible as an infallible handbook of history, geology, biology and celestial physics, but who also practice its moral precepts -- at all events, up to the limit of human capacity. It would be hard to imagine a more moral town than Dayton. If it has any bootleggers, no visitor has heard of them. Ten minutes after I arrived a leading citizen offered me a drink made up half of white mule and half of coca cola, but he seems to have been simply indulging himself in a naughty gesture. No fancy woman has been seen in the town since the end of the McKinley administration. There is no gambling. There is no place to dance. The relatively wicked, when they would indulge themselves, go to Robinson's drug store and debate theology...
In a word, the new Jerusalem, the ideal of all soul savers and sin exterminators. Nine churches are scarcely enough for the 1,800 inhabitants: many of them go into the hills to shout and roll.
In this report, Mencken depicts the people of Dayton as fundamentalists. But what Mencken writes here is in total contradiction to his report two days previously, in which he noted the large number of Masons living in the town. Mencken's final paragraph is also very misleading, as it implies that many of the locals were "Holy Rollers."
What are the facts? According to the Website The Monkey Trial, most of the people of Dayton were neither fundamentalists nor believers in a six-day creation:
In 1925, only about half of the citizens of Dayton were church members of various (mostly Protestant) denominations. In a state most heavily populated by the more conservative Baptist denominations, two Methodist (more liberal) congregations were the largest in Dayton, though neither one had as many members as the (secular) Masons. Of the Christian churches, several were “modernist” and did not hold to a literal 6-day creation or the view that the miracles of the Bible (such as the Resurrection) actually occurred.
The third stage of Mencken's transformation of the people of Dayton into fundamentalist yokels came in his report of July 13, 1925, in which Mencken cleverly shifted his focus to the bizarre religious practices of some people who lived up in the mountains of Tennessee. The reason for this change of focus can be seen in Mencken's report of July 11, which concluded with this sentence: "Nine churches are scarcely enough for the 1,800 inhabitants: many of them go into the hills to shout and roll." Readers' appetites had been carefully whetted, and now Mencken adopted a new persona: he managed to sneak into a religious service up in the hills and observe it without being noticed. He then regaled his readers with a hilarious account of the bizarre practices he had seen, insinuating in his report that a large portion of Dayton's inhabitants had recently adopted these practices, and were regularly attending religious services conducted by the "Holy Rollers" up in the hills.
Mencken's report for July 13, 1925 (Yearning Mountaineers' Souls need Reconversion Nightly, Mencken Finds) begins with his assertion that Episcopalians and even Methodists were regarded as oddities in the town of Dayton:
I have hitherto hinted an Episcopalian down here in the coca-cola belt is regarded as an atheist. It sounds like one of the lies that journalists tell, but it is really an understatement of the facts. Even a Methodist, by Rhea county standards, is one a bit debauched by pride of intellect. It is the four Methodists on the jury who are expected to hold out for giving Scopes Christian burial after he is hanged...
Mencken's claim that Episcopalians in Dayton were regarded as atheists is easily refuted by the fact that in 1925, there was a church standing in Dayton, called the Methodist Episcopal Church North. Furthermore, the fact that four of the twelve jurors were Methodists would suggest that a large proportion of the town locals were anything but six-day literalists. In the interests of accuracy, I should point out that the Methodists in the town of Dayton, while not six-day literalists, were for the most part, creationists, although their pastor, Rev. Howard Gale Byrd, seems to have held more liberal views. On July 19, 1925, Rev. Byrd resigned as pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church North in Dayton, after members of his congregation objected because a visiting minister, Rev. Charles Francis Potter of the West Side Unitarian Church in New York City, had proposed to preach on the topic of evolution.
But let us continue with Mencken's account. In his report of July 13, Mencken suggests that even the Baptists were proving too liberal for the mountain folk of Dayton, who felt compelled to seek God in the "Holy Roller" services in the hills:
Even the Baptists no longer brew a medicine that is strong enough for the mountaineers. The sacrament of baptism by total immersion is over too quickly for them, and what follows offers nothing that they can get their teeth into. What they crave is a continuous experience of the divine power, an endless series of evidence that the true believer is a marked man, ever under the eye of God...
This craving is satisfied brilliantly by the gaudy practices of the Holy Rollers, and so the mountaineers are gradually gravitating toward the Holy Roller communion, or, as they prefer to call it, the Church of God. Gradually, perhaps, is not the word. They are actually going in by whole villages and townships. At the last count of noses there were 20,000 Holy Rollers in these hills...
The preacher stopped at last and there arose out of the darkness a woman with her hair pulled back into a little tight knot. She began so quietly that we couldn't hear what she said, but soon her voice rose resonantly and we could follow her. She was denouncing the reading of books. Some wandering book agent, it appeared, had come to her cabin and tried to sell her a specimen of his wares. She refused to touch it. Why, indeed, read a book? If what was in it was true then everything in it was already in the Bible. If it was false then reading it would imperil the soul. Her syllogism complete, she sat down.
There followed a hymn, led by a somewhat fat brother wearing silver-rimmed country spectacles. It droned on for half a dozen stanzas, and then the first speaker resumed the floor. He argued that the gift of tongues was real and that education was a snare. Once his children could read the Bible, he said, they had enough. Beyond lay only infidelity and damnation. Sin stalked the cities. Dayton itself was a Sodom. Even Morgantown had begun to forget God. He sat down, and the female aurochs in gingham got up.
After that, Mencken started changing his tune. Here is an excerpt from his report for July 11, 1925 (Mencken likens Trial to a Religious Orgy, with Defendant as Beelzebub):
As Mencken biographer Marion Elizabeth Rodgers notes in her book, Mencken: The American Iconoclast (Oxford University Press, 2005; paperback, 2007), John Scopes, who lived in Dayton, had very different recollections:
John Scopes said it was an embarrassment to the townspeople of Dayton that "every Bible-shouting psalm-singing orator poured out of the hills," but to Mencken the spectacle was a source of sheer joy. He delighted in the presence of such characters as "John the Baptist the Third" and one who called himself "The Absolute Ruler of the Entire World, Without Military, Naval, or Other Physical Force." (p. 274)
Mencken neglected to mention the relation between Darwin's theory of evolution and the development of Nietzsche's views. That was because Mencken was himself an avowed Nietzschean.
Christopher Hitchens drew attention to Mencken's frankly Nietzschean views back in 2002, in a review entitled A Smart Set of One (New York Times, November 17, 2002). Hitchens perceived Mencken for what he really was: a disciple of Friedrich Nietzsche who eagerly espoused the philosopher's social Darwinism. To quote Hitchens:
...Mencken was a German nationalist, an insecure small-town petit bourgeois, a childless hypochondriac with what seems on the evidence of these pages to have been a room-temperature libido, an antihumanist as much as an atheist, a man prone to the hyperbole and sensationalism he distrusted in others and not as easy with the modern world and its many temptations and diversions as he liked it to be supposed...
Nietzsche despised both Christianity and democracy, as did Mencken.... But for Mencken, the German savant played approximately the same role as does Ayn Rand for some rancorous individualists of our own day. In the celebrated confrontation with William Jennings Bryan, for example, where the superstitious old populist feared that scientific Darwinism would open the door to social Darwinism, Mencken shared the same opinion but with more gusto. He truly believed that it was a waste of time and energy for the fit to succor the unfit. When he had written about Kaiser Wilhelm in 1914 and entitled the essay 'The Mailed Fist and Its Prophet,' he had not attempted to be ironic or critical.
"Social Darwinism" is a pretty strong perjorative term, coming from a man like Hitchens, whose affection for Charles Darwin the man (who would have been appalled by Nietzsche's philosophy) is so well-known. So what did Mencken write about Kaiser Wilhelm, shortly after the beginning of World War I, in 1914? On an impulse, I decided to check out The Mailed Fist and Its Prophet. And this is what I found. The italics are Mencken's:
I come to the war: the supreme manifestation of the new Germany, at last the great test of the gospel of strength, of great daring, of efficiency. But here, alas, the business of the expositor must suddenly cease. The streams of parallel ideas coalesce. Germany becomes Nietzsche; Nietzsche becomes Germany. Turn away from all the fruitless debates over the responsibility of this man or that, the witless straw-splitting over non-essentials. Go back to Zarathustra: 'I do not advise you to compromise and make peace, but to conquer. Let your labor be fighting, and your peace victory.... What is good? All that increases the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. What is bad? All that proceeds from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power increases, that resistance is being overcome.... Not contentment, but more power! Not peace at any price, but war! Not virtue, but efficiency! ... The weak and the botched must perish: that is the first principle of our humanity. And they should be helped to perish! ... I am writing for the lords of the earth. You say that a good cause hallows even war? ... I tell you that a good war hallows every cause!'
Barbarous? Ruthless? Unchristian? No doubt. But so is life itself. So is all progress worthy the name. Here at least is honesty to match the barbarity, and, what is more, courage, the willingness to face great hazards, the acceptance of defeat as well as victory.
Let's look at those words again: "Germany becomes Nietzsche; Nietzsche becomes Germany." "I do not advise you to compromise and make peace, but to conquer." "The weak and the botched must perish...And they should be helped to perish!" This was Mencken’s personal credo.
What about Clarence Darrow? Darrow was a dyed-in-the-wool fatalist, as is shown by his final summation in the Loeb/Leopold murder shows:
"Nature is strong and she is pitiless. She works in her own mysterious way, and we are her victims. We have not much to do with it ourselves. Nature takes this job in hand, and we play our parts. In the words of old Omar Khayyam, we are only:
Impotent pieces in the game He plays Upon this checkerboard of nights and days, Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays, And one by one back in the closet lays.
What had this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was not his own mother; he was not his own grandparents. All of this was handed to him. He did not surround himself with governesses and wealth. He did not make himself. And yet he is to be compelled to pay.
Do you mean to tell me that Dickie Loeb had any more to do with his making than any other product of heredity that is born upon the earth?...
Your Honor, I am almost ashamed to talk about it. I can hardly imagine that we are in the 20th century. And yet there are men who seriously say that for what Nature has done, for what life has done, for what training has done, you should hang these boys."
Quote from http://www.bradburyac.mistral.co.uk/tennes14.html
See also http://highschoolbioethics.georgetown.edu/units/cases/unit1_1.html
"In 1915, just before Thanksgiving, a baby was born without a neck, with only one ear, with a misshapen chest and misshapen shoulders, and with serious internal malformations. The doctor who delivered the baby at Chicago's German-American Hospital called in Dr. Harry Haiselden, a surgeon, to examine the baby. Haiselden concluded that this "defective" baby's life would not be worth saving. He convinced the parents, Anna and Allen Bollinger, to let their son die rather than embark on a series of operations to repair some of the baby's physical deformities."
http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0E15FD355C13738DDDAC0994DA415B858DF1D3 ("Medical Society's Committee Against Bollinger Baby's Physician". New York Times. December 15, 1915.)
"Dr. Harry J. Haiselden, who refused to perform an operation on the Bollinger baby because he believed the child would be a hopeless defective, will be expelled from membership in the Chicago Medical Society if the council of that body approves the findings of the Ethical Relations Committee."
Here's a paragraph from pages 73-74 of A Concise History of Euthanasia: Life, Death, God, and Medicine by Ian Dowbiggin.
One thing the Baby Bollinger story proved was that Haiselden's views about euthanasia were not unique. The well-known American lawyer Clarence Darrow, future defense attorney during the Scopes "Monkey" Trial of 1925, agreed wholeheartedly with Haiselden. When asked his opinion of the Baby Bollinger controversy, Darrow answered acerbically: "Chloroform unfit children. Show them the same mercy that is shown beasts that are no longer fit to live." Blind and deaf advocate Helen Keller added: "Our puny sentimentalism has caused us to forget that a human life is sacred only when it may be of some use to itself and to the world.”
In his report Impossibility of Obtaining a Fair Jury (July 10, 1925), Mencken wrote:
I had the honor of being present yesterday when Col. Patrick Callahan, of Louisville, marched up at the head of his cohort of 250,000,000 Catholic fundamentalists.... Colonel Callahan's followers were present, of course, only by a legal fiction; the town of Dayton would not hold so large an army. In the actual flesh there were only the colonel himself and his aide-de-camp. Nevertheless, the 250,000,000 were put down as present and recorded as voting... Then he [Colonel Callahan] began to talk about prohibition, which he favors, and the germ theory of diseases, which he regards as bilge...
A somewhat more plausible volunteer has turned up in the person of Pastor T.T. Martin, of Blue Mountain, Miss. He has hired a room and stocked it with pamphlets bearing such titles as "Evolution a Menace," "Hell and the High Schools" and "God or Gorilla," and addresses connoisseurs of scientific fallacy every night on a lot behind the Courthouse. Pastor Martin, a handsome and amiable old gentleman with a great mop of snow-white hair, was a professor of science in a Baptist college for years, and has given profound study to the biological sections of the Old Testament.
He told me today that he regarded the food regulations in Leviticus as so sagacious that their framing must have been a sort of feat even for divinity. The flesh of the domestic hog, he said, is a rank poison as ordinarily prepared for the table, though it is probably harmless when smoked and salted, as in bacon. He said that his investigations had shown that seven and a half out of every thirteen cows are quite free of tuberculosis, but that twelve out of every thirteen hogs have it in an advanced and highly communicable form. The Jews, protected by their piety against devouring pork, are immune to the disease. In all history, he said, there is authentic record of but one Jew who died of tuberculosis.
The presence of Pastor Martin and Colonel Callahan has given renewed confidence to the prosecution. The former offers proof that men of science are, after all, not unanimously atheists, and the latter that there is no division between Christians in the face of the common enemy.
In fact, Pastor Martin was never a professor of biology at any college, and it is almost certain that Patrick Callahan could have doubted the germ theory of disease, which finally secured public acceptance thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the Catholic scientist, Louis Pasteur.
Further reading on the career of Patrick Henry Callahan: Patrick Henry Callahan: A Kentucky Democrat in National Politics by Henry E. Ellis, Ph.D.
On the life-long friendship between Callahan and Mencken, see this article: Kentucky Catholic and Maryland Skeptic: The Correspondence of Colonel Patrick Henry Callahan and H. L. Mencken by Henry E. Ellis, Ph.D.
Bryan's gravestone at Arlington Cemetery.
USEFUL LINKS RELATING TO THE SCOPES TRIAL
Mencken's reporting on the Scopes Trial
To Expose a Fool. Mencken's savage obituary of Bryan, published in The American Mercury, October 1925, pp. 158-160.
Scopes Trial: Myths and Facts
Scopes Trial: Best Online Resources
Essays on the Scopes Trial
William Jennings Bryan's writings
Reflections on the Scopes Trial
Links and Bibliography
William Jennings Bryan's last speech. This is the text of what was to have been the Closing Statement of William Jennings Bryan at the trial of John Scopes, Dayton, Tennessee, 1925. Bryan was prevented from giving his speech through some clever out-maneuvering on Clarence Darrow's part. The speech was printed off shortly before Bryan's death, but Bryan died before he ever had the chance to deliver it in public.
Darrow's lack of racism: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/trialheroes/Darrowmelting.html
Impressions of the Scopes Trial by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. (Excerpt from Clarence Darrow's Two Great Trials, a pamphlet published in 1927.)
Election of 1896.
The Great Commoner. Article on Bryan's public service and contributions to international peacekeeping, by the William Jennings Bryan Recognition Project.
William Jennings Bryan on the Subject of Evolution from his pamphlet, "The Menace of Evolution".
"The tendency of Darwinianism, although unsupported by any substantial fact in nature, since no species has been shown to come from any other species, is to destroy faith in a personal God, faith in the Bible as an inspired Book, and faith in Christ as Son and Saviour.
"The so-called theistic evolutionists refuse to admit that they are atheists, contending that they believe in a God back of creation; they argue that evolution is God's method, but they put God so far away as to practically destroy a sense of God's presence in the daily life and a sense of responsibility to Him. At least, that is the tendency, and since the so-called theistic evolutionists borrow all their facts from atheistic evolutionists and differ from them only in the origin of life, theistic evolution may be described as an anaesthetic administered to young Christians to deaden the pain while their religion is being removed by the materialists...
"When Christians want to teach Christianity, they build their own schools and colleges, and employ their own teachers-- Catholics build Catholic schools, Protestants build Protestant schools. Every Protestant branch of the Christian church builds its own schools for the propagation of its own doctrine. This is the rule, and there is no protest against it.
"Why should not atheists build their own colleges and employ their own teachers if they want to teach atheism? Why should not agnostics build their own colleges and employ their own teachers if they want to teach agnosticism? Only a small percentage of the American people believe that man is descendant of the ape, monkey, or of any other form of animal life below man; why should not those who worship brute ancestors build their own colleges, and employ their own teachers for the training of their own children for their brute doctrine? ... As long as the atheists and agnostics have the same rights as the Christians, what complaint can they make of injustice? Why do they ask special favors?
"If those who teach Darwinism and evolution, as applied to man, insist that they are neither agnostics nor atheists, but are merely interpreting the Bible differently from orthodox Christians, what right have they to ask that their interpretation be taught at public expense? It is safe to say that not one professing Christian in ten has any sympathy with Darwinism or with any evolutionary hypothesis that takes from man the breath of the Almighty and substitutes the blood of a brute. Why should a small fraction of the Christian church - if they call themselves Christians – insist upon propagating their views of Christianity and their interpretation of the Bible at public expense? If any portion of the people could claim the right to teach their views at public expense, that right would certainly belong to a large majority rather than to a small minority. But the majority are not asking that their views be taught at the expense of the tax-payers; the majority is simply protesting against the use of the public schools of a MINORITY to spread their view, whether they be called atheists, or agnostics, or are merely teaching their interpretation of the Bible.
"Christians do not ask that the teachers in the public schools, colleges and universities become exponents of orthodox Christianity; they are not asking them to teach the Bible conception of God, to affirm the Bible's claim to infallibility, or to proclaim the deity of Christ; but Christians have a right to protest against teaching that which weakens faith in God, undermines belief in the Bible, and reduces Christ to the stature of a man. The teacher who tells the student that miracles are impossible because contrary to evolution, is attacking the Bible; what right has he to do so?
God and Evolution by William Jennings Bryan. Letter toThe New York Times, 26 February 1922, Section 7, 1: 6–9, 11: 1. Good article.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v8/n4/big-bang-evolution-of-theory Big Bang
Nebraska Man http://creation.com/fresh-look-at-nebraska-man http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/wolfmellett.html
Douglas Linder on Bryan
William Jennings Bryan by Professor Doug Linder. 2004 essay.
William Jennings Bryan on the Subject of Evolution from his pamphlet, "The Menace of Evolution".
No existing form of anthropoid ape is even remotely related to the stock which has given rise to man.
- Henry Fairfield Osborn
In Henry Fairfield Osborn, 'Osborn States the Case For Evolution', New York Times (12 Jul 1925), XX1. Written in rebuttal to the anti-evolution publicity by William Jennings Bryan at the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Quite recently the human descent theory has been stigmatized as the "gorilla theory of human ancestry."
All this despite the fact that Darwin himself, in the days when not a single bit of evidence regarding
the fossil ancestors of man was recognized, distinctly stated that none of the known anthropoid apes,
much less any of the known monkeys, should be considered in any way as ancestral to the human stock.
- Henry Fairfield Osborn
In Henry Fairfield Osborn, 'Osborn States the Case For Evolution', New York Times (12 Jul 1925), XX1. Written at the time of the Scopes Monkey Trial, in rebuttal of the anti-evolution position publicized by William Jennings Bryan.
Bryan's last speech:
Bryan's last speech
It need hardly be added that this law did not have its origin in bigotry. It is not trying to force any 'form of religion on anybody. The majority is not' trying to establish a religion or to teach it - it is trying to protect itself from the effort of an insolent minority to force irreligion upon the children under the guise of teaching science. What right has a little irresponsible oligarchy of self styled "intellectuals" to demand control of the schools of the United States; in which twenty-five millions of children are being educated at an annual expense of nearly two billions of dollars?...
It must be remembered that the law under consideration in this case does not prohibit the teaching of evolution up to the line that separates man from the lower form of animal life. The law might well have gone further than it does and prohibit 'the teaching of evolution in lower forms of life; the law is a very conservative statement of the people's opposition to an anti-Biblical hypothesis...
Evolution is not truth; it is merely a hypothesis - it is millions of guesses strung together. It had not been proven in the days of Darwin - he expressed astonishment that with two or three million species it had been impossible to trace any species to any other species - it had not been proven in the days of Huxley, and it has not been proven up to today. It is less than four years ago that Professor Bateson came all the way from London to Canada to tell the American scientists that every effort to trace one species to another had failed - every one. He said he still had faith in evolution but had doubts about the origin of species. But of what value is evolution if it cannot explain the origin of species? While many scientists accept evolution as if it were a fact, they all admit, when questioned, that no explanation has been found as to how one species developed into another...
Evolution - the evolution in this case, and the only evolution that is a matter of controversy anywhere - is the evolution taught by defendant, set forth in the books now prohibited by the new State law, and illustrated in the diagram printed on page 194 of Hunter's "Civic Biology". The author estimates the number of species in the animal kingdom at 518,900. These are divided into eighteen classes and each class is indicated on the diagram by a circle, proportionate in size to the number of species in each class and attached by a stem to the trunk of the tree. It begins with protozoa and ends with the mammals. Passing over the classes with which the average man is unfamiliar, let me call your attention to a few of the larger and better known groups. The insects are numbered at three hundred and sixty thousand, over two-thirds of the total number of species in the animal world. The fishes are numbered at thirteen thousand, the amphibians at fourteen hundred, the reptiles at thirty-five hundred, and the birds at thirteen thousand, while thirty-five hundred mammals are crowded together in a little circle that is barely higher than the bird circle. No circle is reserved for man alone. He is, according to the diagram, shut up in the little circle entitled "mammals," with 3,499 other species of mammals. Does it not seem a little unfair not to distinguish between that and lower forms of life? What shall we say of the intelligence, not to say religion, of those who are so particular to distinguish between fishes and reptiles and birds but put a man with an immortal soul in the same circle with the wolf, the hyena and the skunk? What must be the impression made upon children by such a degradation of man?
Mr. Bryan on Evolution Excerpts from Bryan's last speech on evolution.
William Jennings Bryan and the Scopes trial: A Fundamentalist Perspective by Professor Gerald L. Priest. In Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 4 (Fall 1999): 51–83. Dr. Priest is Professor of Historical Theology at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI.
In his lectures and writings we find Bryan opposing evolution for several reasons. His two most famous speeches, "The Menace of Darwinism" (1921) and "The Origin of Man" (1922), and the book, In His Image (1922), listed them, including ones he would draw upon during the Scopes trial. In addition to standard fundamentalist arguments against evolution already mentioned, he added that evolution is only a guess at best and, more importantly, it was eliminating man's accountability to God...
Because Bryan believed that the philosophy of evolution was contributing to the dissolution of morals in the nation's youth, he directed his offensive against the teaching of evolution in the public schools.(27) As a populist Democrat, he advocated the right of free speech: it is "guaranteed in this country and should never be weakened." But this freedom entails personal responsibility. “The moment one takes on a representative character, he becomes obligated to represent faithfully... those who have commissioned him." The majority rules—in this case, the taxpayers—and no minority opinion that contradicts or undermines their wishes should be tolerated. He never tired of repeating, "The hand that writes the pay check rules the school."(28)
27 W. J. Bryan, In His Image (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1922), pp. 123–35.
28 Bryan, Seven Questions, pp. 152, 154. The reference is to tax-paying parents who should have the final say about what their children are being taught in the public school.
Scopes trial by Michael Hannon.
Although the anti-evolution bill was popular, it was not supported by everyone in Tennessee. The most interesting criticism after the House vote came from an unexpected source. The pastor of the First Methodist Church in Columbia, Dr. Richard Owenby, sharply criticized the Tennessee legislators. Owenby would have made Darrow proud with the scorn he heaped on them. In a sermon, Owenby told his congregation that the legislators were "making monkeys of themselves at the rate of 71 to 5."(51)
15 Kenneth K. Bailey, The Enactment of Tennessee’s Anti-Evolution Law 9 (June 13, 1949) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Vanderbilt University) (on file with author), p. 89
Women played an important role in the evolution controversy. Although the leaders of the anti-evolution movement were all men, women as a group were strongly against evolution, with one estimate asserting that women represented seventy percent of the anti-evolutionists.(143) Women were prominent in contacting Tennessee House members to voice their support for the Butler Act. During the legislative process leading up to the enactment of Tennessee’s anti-evolution law, nearly all the letters to the newspapers in support of the bill came from women, while most of the letters against the law came from men.(144)
Why would women be so prominent in the anti-evolution movement? It appears many believed evolution instruction interfered with their role as mothers and protectors of their children. Like the prohibition movement, the anti-evolution movement "was a female-dominated reform movement that invoked a mother's duty to protect her children and make the state an extension of maternal moral influence."(145)
Footnotes 143 Jeffrey P. Moran, The Scopes Trial: A Brief History With Documents, p. 70 (2002). (citing Rollin Lynde Hartt, "What Lies Beyond Dayton", The Nation, July 22, 1925, p. 111)
144 Id. at 71.
State v. John Scopes ("The Monkey Trial") by Douglas Linder.
Disinherting the Wind by Professor Robert George, Touchstone magazine, March 2000.
When Bryan stepped forward to accept the role of special prosecutor in the case, the famous defense lawyers Clarence Darrow and Dudley Field Malone volunteered to argue for the defense. As a defender of labor militants and others in sensational prosecutions, Darrow’s stature and reputation were a match for Bryan’s. Interestingly, like Bryan, Darrow was a supporter of workers' rights and an active Democrat. Indeed, he had supported Bryan for President more than once. On religion, though, they were radically opposed. Darrow saw the argument between agnosticism and atheism as a close call. He scoffed at Christianity, and was certain of the truth of purely materialistic evolution. (Malone, incidentally, was a lapsed Catholic and secularized liberal, who made his reputation in big money divorce cases. He, too, had supported Bryan’s presidential campaigns.)
God - or Gorilla: How the Monkey Theory of Evolution Exposes Its Own Methods, Refutes Its Own Principles, Denies Its Own Inferences, Disproves Its Own Case by Alfred Watterson McCann (New York, The Devin-Adair Company, 1922). (McCann was a Catholic opponent of evolution who nonetheless conceded that the Church had no opposition to evolution as such.)
Headquarters Nights: A Record of Conversations and Experiences at the Headquarters of the German Army in France and Belgium by Vernon Kellogg (The Atlantic Monthly Press, Boston, 1917).
Professor von Flussen is Neo-Darwinian, as are most German biologists and natural philosophers. The creed of the Allmacht of a natural selection based on violent and fatal competitive struggle is the gospel of the German intellectuals; all else is illusion and anathema.... [A]s with the different ant species, struggle — bitter, ruthless struggle — is the rule among the different human groups.
This struggle not only must go on, for that is the natural law, but it should go on, so that this natural law may work out in its cruel, inevitable way the salvation of the human species. By its salvation is meant its desirable natural evolution. That human group which is in the most advanced evolutionary stage as regards internal organization and form of social relationship is best, and should, for the sake of the species, be preserved at the expense of the less advanced, the less effective. It should win in the struggle for existence, and this struggle should occur precisely that the various types may be tested, and the best not only preserved, but put in position to impose its kind of social organization — its Kultur — on the others, or, alternatively to destroy and replace them.
This is the disheartening kind of argument that I faced at Headquarters; argument logically constructed on premises chosen by the other fellow. Add to these assumed premises of the Allmacht of struggle and selection based on it, and the contemplation of mankind as a congeries of different, mutually irreconcilable kinds, like the different ant species, the additional assumption that the Germans are the chosen race, and German social and political organization the chosen type of human community life, and you have a wall of logic and conviction that you can break your head against but can never shatter — by headwork. (Chapter I, pp. 28-30)
The danger from Germany is, I have said, that the Germans believe what they say. And they act on this belief. Professor von Flussen says that this war is necessary as a test of the German position and claim. If Germany is beaten, it will prove that she has moved along the wrong evolutionary line, and should be beaten. If she wins, it will prove that she is on the right way, and that the rest of the world, at least that part which we and the Allies represent, is on the wrong way and should, for the sake of the right evolution of the human race, be stopped and put on the right way — or else be destroyed as unfit. (Chapter II, p. 31)
In His Image by William Jennings Bryan, (Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1922). See also here.
Some evolutionists reject Darwin's line of descent and believe that man, instead of coming from the ape, branched off from a common ancestor farther back, but" cousin" ape is as objectionable as "grandpa" ape. (p. 102)
Those who accept Darwin's views are in the habit of saying that it need not lessen their reverence for God to believe that the Creator fashioned a germ of life and endowed it with power to develop into what we see today. It is true that a God who could make man as he is, could have made him by the long-drawn-out process suggested by Darwin. To do either would require infinite power, beyond the ability of man to comprehend. But what is the natural tendency of Darwin's doctrine?
Will man's attitude toward Darwin's God be the same as it would be toward the God of Moses? Will the believer in Darwin's God be as conscious of God's presence in his daily life? Will he be as sensitive to God's will and as anxious to find out what God wants him to do? (p. 110)
Is any other proof needed to show the irreligious influence exerted by Darwinism applied to man? At the University of Wisconsin (so a Methodist preacher told me) a teacher told his class that the Bible was a collection of myths. When I brought the matter to the attention of the President of the University, he criticized me but avoided all reference to the professor. At Ann Arbor a professor argued with students against religion and asserted that no thinking man could believe in God or the Bible. At Columbia (I learned this from a Baptist preacher) a professor began his course in geology by telling his class to throw away all that they had learned in the Sunday school. There is a professor in Yale of whom it is said that no one leaves his class a believer in God. (This came from a young man who told me that his brother was being led away from the Christian faith by this professor.) A father (a Congressman) tells me that a daughter on her return from WeHesley told him that nobody believed in the Bible stories now. Another father (a Congressman) tells me of a son whose faith was undermined by this doctripe in a Divinity School. (p. 120)
It is not sufficient to say that some believers in Darwinism retain their belief in Christianity; some survive smallpox. As we avoid smallpox because many die of it, so we should avoid Darwinism because it leads many astray. (p. 122)
Did the Human Body Evolve Naturally? A Forgotten Papal Declaration by Brian Harrison (Living Tradition, Organ of the Roman Theological Forum, no. 73-74, January-March 1998.
We are not dealing here with a mere Allocution, a Motu Proprio, a Brief, an Apostolic Exhortation, or a Nuntius,(1) but a fully-fledged piece of pontificating endowed with no less inherent or formal authority than Humani Generis or Providentissimus Deus: the Encyclical Letter Arcanum Divinæ Sapientiae of Pope Leo XIII on Christian Marriage, dated 10 February 1880.(2)...
Stressing that marriage is the foundation of all human society, Leo XIII declares to the Catholic bishops of the world on the second page of the encyclical:
What is the true origin of marriage? That, Venerable Brethren, is a matter of common knowledge. For although the detractors of the Christian faith shrink from acknowledging the Church's permanent doctrine on this matter, and persist in their long-standing efforts to erase the history of all nations and all ages, they have nonetheless been unable to extinguish, or even to weaken, the strength and light of the truth. We call to mind facts well-known to all and doubtful to no-one: after He formed man from the slime(6) of the earth on the sixth day of creation, and breathed into his face the breath of life, God willed to give him a female companion, whom He drew forth wondrously from the man's side as he slept. In bringing this about, God, in His supreme Providence, willed that this spousal couple should be the natural origin of all men: in other words, that from this pair the human race should be propagated and preserved in every age by a succession of procreative acts which would never be interrupted. And so that this union of man and woman might correspond more aptly to the most wise counsels of God, it has manifested from that time onward, deeply impressed or engraved, as it were, within itself, two preeminent and most noble properties: unity and perpetuity.(7)
... There are essentially five points of Catholic truth explicitly affirmed by the Pope in the paragraph we have reproduced above, in addition to another point (the first in the following list) which is presupposed or implied as the necessary foundation of those which follow:
(1) the historical character of chapters 1-3 of Genesis;
(2) the creation of Adam by God on the sixth day, including the formation of his body from the slime (or dust) of the earth;
(3) the formation of Eve's body from the side of Adam;
(4) monogenism - the doctrine that the entire human race has been propagated from this original couple alone;
(5) the unity of marriage - that it is between one man and one woman, thus excluding adultery and polygamy;
(6) the perpetuity of marriage - its life-long character, excluding divorce...
The Problem of Man’s Origin: E.C Messenger's conclusions at the end of "Evolution and Theology"
We now come to the question of the partial co-operation of created secondary causes in the production of the human body.
This is a difficult and delicate subject, but we very tentatively make the suggestion that it could be discussed under the three heads comprising the famous Scotist argument for the Immaculate Conception — "potuit, decuit, ergo fecit." [God could have done it, and He would have done it, therefore He did it. - VJT)
1. Potuit. [God could have done it.] God could have made use of secondary causes as instruments, in the formation of the human body. The abstract possibility is allowed, we think, by practically all responsible theologians, and so we need not develop this point.
2. Decuit. [God would have done it.] This may be thought to be the most debatable point of the three, but we think it is the easiest to answer, in virtue of what we have called the "Principle of Christian Naturalism." This principle may be expressed as follows: "God makes use of secondary causes wherever possible." This principle runs counter completely to the ideas of those theologians who argue that because God must have immediately created the human soul, He must also have formed immediately the human body. The principle is such an important one the we must develop in a little.
As St. Thomas points out in his masterly treatment in Contra Gentes, Book III, c. 69, if God has given being to created things, He must also endowed them with activities, and further, if He did not makes use of these activities so far as possible, He would be acting against His own Divine Wisdom....
This theory of God's use of secondary causes becomes all the more luminous when we remember that all secondary causes must be regarded ultimately as His instruments. He is the great First Cause, and from Him comes all that has being. Created things would not exist if He did not give them being; they could not produce any effect if He did not concur with their activities and powers. Created agents, then, are instruments in the hands of the Deity...
3. Fecit? [God did it?] We put a mark of interrogation here deliberately. We ourselves are inclined to conclude, on the theological grounds just outlined, that nature did co-operate in the formation of Adam's body. There are two reasons, however, which counsel prudence in this matter.
The first is the attitude of Ecclesiastical Authority... Should the Church decide that Adam's body was formed immediately and exclusively by God from inanimate matter, a Catholic author, who had hitherto held the contrary would at once wholeheartedly admit that his own interpretation of Scripture had been incorrect, and that those Fathers whose ideas he adopted and developed were not safe guides in the matter...
Secondly, we have the hostile attitude adopted by so many modern theologians. We ourselves think that this attitude is a mistaken one, and cherish the hope that a reconsideration of the matter may lead them to take a wider view, as has happened in the case of the evolution of species in general. But so long as theological opinion remains what it is, a Catholic would do well to hesitate before adopting definitely a view to which so many authors are opposed.
Accordingly we think it on the whole preferable for a Catholic to suspend his judgment on the matter at the present moment, or at least not to give any unqualified assent to the evolutionary hypothesis. And so we end on a note of interrogation: "Fecit"?
Book review of 'A Religious Orgy at Tennessee: A Reporter's Account of the Scopes Monkey Trial' by Dietrich Kessler.