Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winterton Curtis on the Scopes Trial

In recognition of Darwin Day, my old landlord's recollections of the infamous Tennessee Scopes Trial:

With my background of participations in the controversy it was natural that I should be called in 1925 as one of the expert witnesses in the famous trial of John T. Scopes as a violator of the Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of Evolution.  In response to a telegram from the American Civil Liberties Union, I reached Dayton in time for my evening meal of Monday, July 13.  The trial had opened the preceding Friday, after which the court had adjourned for the weekend.
I was met at the station by one of my fellow scientists and driven through the town to the house where we were to be quartered.  The business section surrounding the courthouse was alive with people, natives and visitors, and ablaze with banners or orthodoxy, such as: “Read Your Bible” –“Prepare to meet Thy God” –“Repent or Be Damned.”  Dayton was more like a town prepared for a Billy Sunday revival than for a court trail.  Above all, the town was overflowing with “Foreigners: come to see the show, every room for rent was taken and vacant second floors of store buildings were filled with cots.  I recall being in one of these lofts occupied by newspapermen.  A cold-water faucet over a sink at the back near the outside stairs and a privy in the backyard were the only toilet facilities for the 25 or 30 reporters who slept on the close-packed cots... (continues)
Winterton C. Curtis... in Dayton, TN 1925

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