xxiv Introducing “The Trial of the Century” teeming, seething bedlam” flooded with sincere spectators, photographers, apes and monkeys, flat-earthers, screaming preachers, hucksters, circus performers, reporters, “nuts, bigots, jumping and howling missionaries . . . carnival riffraff,” and—in the words of John Scopes—“screwballs, con men, and devotees . . . freaks . . . [and] pulpit heroes.”37 Some newspaper editors could not believe what their reporters were sending them as reporter Wilson Midgley noted, “tone it down as I may, my chief will think I’m spoofing or at least exaggerating unduly. . . . [I] can’t quite credit my senses myself.”38 Scopes’s trial quickly became what reporter Warner Rags- dale (1898–1986) claimed “was not a trial in the ordinary sense of the word. . . . The crowd came out to watch the trial just as people go to watch a football game, or a prizefight, or any other spectacle. The whole commu- nity was stirred, although many did not quite understand what it was all about.”39 For famed journalist H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), the Scopes Trial “had everything.” Like Mencken, virtually every group associated with the trial had an agenda the nascent ACLU publicized itself, lawyers pro- moted their personal beliefs and attacked others, the judge campaigned to get reelected, and preachers warned society of an impending societal cata- clysm, all while Dayton tried to remedy its own Depression. To Bryan and others, Scopes threatened the public’s control of public schools, and Dar- row insisted that teachers should teach the truth, regardless of what the public wanted. Other individuals also had agendas: Publicity: Mindful of the economic boon that the trial could produce, Judge John Raulston (1868-1956) had allowed Scopes to be indicted by a grand jury whose term had expired so that another town could not “steal the show.” As the trial drew near, Chattanooga tried to have the trial (and its economic impact) moved there. When Chattanooga’s coup failed, Dayton’s civic leaders staged fistfights and other publicity stunts to keep the trial in the news. Trial instigator George Rappleyea (1894–1966) even promised reporters that Scopes would be defended by famed British writer H. G. Wells (1866–1948). Perhaps someone should have told Wells, for when he was asked about participating in the trial, he replied, “I have never heard of Dayton.”40 Not to be outdone, Rhea County School Superintendent Walter White (1880–1951) asked Luther Bur- bank, an ardent supporter of evolution, to help the prosecution. When Bur- bank declined, White invited Thomas Edison (1847–1931). Although Edison excused himself as being too old to travel, he added that he would have been privileged to be there, a response that Rappleyea later described as “one of the best jokes in the play.”41 Most reporters quickly figured out that the trial was all about publicity as the Knoxville Journal noted, “The major actors on the Day- ton stage [are] there for publicity and don’t care three straws for what may be decided in the court.”42 On the day his trial ended, Variety—a publication
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