John Scopes

John Scopes


Paducah, KY
United States

The defendant in the "Scopes Monkey Trial" is a Paducah native.

John Thomas Scopes (August 3, 1900 – October 21, 1970), a teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was charged on May 5, 1925 with violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. He was tried in a case known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Scopes was born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky before moving to Illinois as a teenager. He was a member of the class of 1919 in Salem, Illinois, which is also William Jennings Bryan's home town. After he had earned a law degree at the University of Kentucky in 1924, Scopes moved to Dayton where he took a job as the Rhea County High School's football coach, and occasionally filled in as substitute teacher when regular members of staff were off work.

Scopes accepted a scholarship for graduate study of geology in the University of Chicago. He then did geological field work in Venezuela for Gulf Oil of South America. There he met and married his wife, Mildred, and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. In 1930 he returned to the University of Chicago for a third year of graduate study. After two years without professional employment, he took a position as a geologist with the United Gas Company, for which he studied oil reserves. He worked, first in Houston, Texas and then in Shreveport, Louisiana, until he retired in 1963.


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