Clarence Darrow
Overview
Clarence Seward Darrow was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

, best known for defending teenage thrill killers
Thrill killing
A thrill killing is a term used to describe a premeditated murder committed by a person who is not necessarily suffering from mental instability, and does not derive sexual satisfaction from killing victims, or have anything against them, and sometimes do not know them, but is instead motivated by...

 Leopold and Loeb
Leopold and Loeb
Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb , more commonly known as "Leopold and Loeb", were two wealthy University of Michigan alumni and University of Chicago students who murdered 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in 1924 and were sentenced to life imprisonment.The duo were...

 in their trial for murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks (1924) and defending John T. Scopes
John T. Scopes
John Thomas Scopes , was a biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, who was charged on May 5, 1925 for violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools...

 in the Scopes Trial
Scopes Trial
The Scopes Trial—formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and informally known as the Scopes 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...

 (1925), in which he opposed William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

 (statesman, noted orator, and 3-time presidential candidate). Called a "sophisticated country lawyer
Country Lawyer
In the United States, a country lawyer, or county-seat lawyer, is an attorney who has completed little or no formal legal training and has become a member of a county bar or a state bar after "reading law"; traditionally, these lawyers practiced general law in a rural setting, or on the frontier...

", he remains notable for his wit
Wit
Wit is a form of intellectual humour, and a wit is someone skilled in making witty remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee.-Forms of wit:...

 and agnosticism
Agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

, which marked him as one of the most famous American lawyers and civil libertarians.
Clarence Darrow was born in rural northeastern Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 on April 18, 1857.
Quotations

In the great flood of human life that is spawned upon the earth, it is not often that a man is born.

Funeral oration for John Peter Altgeld|John Peter Altgeld (14 March 1902); published in an appendix to The Story of My Life (1932)

Liberty is the most jealous and exacting mistress that can beguile the brain and soul of man. She will have nothing from him who will not give her all. She knows that his pretended love serves but to betray. But when once the fierce heat of her quenchless, lustrous eyes has burned into the victim's heart, he will know no other smile but hers.

Funeral oration for John Peter Altgeld (14 March 1902)

With all their faults, trade-unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than any other association of men.

The Railroad Trainman (November 1909)

The objector and the rebel who raises his voice against what he believes to be the injustice of the present and the wrongs of the past is the one who hunches the world along.

Address to the court in "The Communist Trial", People v. Lloyd (1920)

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.

Address to the court in People v. Lloyd (1920)

The Constitution is a delusion and a snare if the weakest and humblest man in the land cannot be defended in his right to speak and his right to think as much as the strongest in the land.

Address to the court in People v. Lloyd (1920)

I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure — that is all that agnosticism means.

Scopes Trial|Scopes Trial, Dayton, Tennessee (13 July 1925)

All men do the best they can. But none meet life honestly and few heroically.

As quoted in Infidels and Heretics : An Agnostic's Anthology (1929) edited by Clarence Darrow and Wallace Rice, p. 206

Encyclopedia
Clarence Seward Darrow was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 lawyer
Lawyer
A lawyer, according to Black's Law Dictionary, is "a person learned in the law; as an attorney, counsel or solicitor; a person who is practicing law." Law is the system of rules of conduct established by the sovereign government of a society to correct wrongs, maintain the stability of political...

 and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

, best known for defending teenage thrill killers
Thrill killing
A thrill killing is a term used to describe a premeditated murder committed by a person who is not necessarily suffering from mental instability, and does not derive sexual satisfaction from killing victims, or have anything against them, and sometimes do not know them, but is instead motivated by...

 Leopold and Loeb
Leopold and Loeb
Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb , more commonly known as "Leopold and Loeb", were two wealthy University of Michigan alumni and University of Chicago students who murdered 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in 1924 and were sentenced to life imprisonment.The duo were...

 in their trial for murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks (1924) and defending John T. Scopes
John T. Scopes
John Thomas Scopes , was a biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, who was charged on May 5, 1925 for violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools...

 in the Scopes Trial
Scopes Trial
The Scopes Trial—formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and informally known as the Scopes 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...

 (1925), in which he opposed William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

 (statesman, noted orator, and 3-time presidential candidate). Called a "sophisticated country lawyer
Country Lawyer
In the United States, a country lawyer, or county-seat lawyer, is an attorney who has completed little or no formal legal training and has become a member of a county bar or a state bar after "reading law"; traditionally, these lawyers practiced general law in a rural setting, or on the frontier...

", he remains notable for his wit
Wit
Wit is a form of intellectual humour, and a wit is someone skilled in making witty remarks. Forms of wit include the quip and repartee.-Forms of wit:...

 and agnosticism
Agnosticism
Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable....

, which marked him as one of the most famous American lawyers and civil libertarians.

Upbringing

Clarence Darrow was born in rural northeastern Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 on April 18, 1857. He was the son of Amirus Darrow and Emily (Eddy) Darrow. Both the Darrow and the Eddy farms had deep roots in colonial New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, and several of Darrow's ancestors served in the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. Clarence's father was an ardent abolitionist and a proud iconoclast and religious freethinker
Freethought
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...

, known in town as the "village infidel
Infidel
An infidel is one who has no religious beliefs, or who doubts or rejects the central tenets of a particular religion – especially in reference to Christianity or Islam....

." Emily Darrow was an early supporter of female suffrage and a women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

 advocate. Clarence attended Allegheny College
Allegheny College
Allegheny College is a private liberal arts college located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the town of Meadville. Founded in 1815, the college has about 2,100 undergraduate students.-Early history:...

 and the University of Michigan Law School
University of Michigan Law School
The University of Michigan Law School is the law school of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. Founded in 1859, the school has an enrollment of about 1,200 students, most of whom are seeking Juris Doctor or Master of Laws degrees, although the school also offers a Doctor of Juridical...

 but did not graduate from either institution. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1878. The Clarence Darrow Octagon House
Clarence Darrow Octagon House
The Clarence Darrow Octagon House is an historic octagonal house located at 8405 Main Street in Kinsman, Ohio. Built circa 1854, it was the boyhood home of famous lawyer and Kinsman native Clarence Darrow, 1857-1938, whose father bought it in 1864...

, which was his childhood home in the small town of Kinsman, Ohio
Kinsman, Ohio
Kinsman is an unincorporated community in southern Kinsman Township, Trumbull County, Ohio, United States. Although it is unincorporated, it has a post office, with the ZIP code of 44428; as well as a library, the Kinsman Free Public Library...

, contains a memorial to him.

From corporate lawyer to labor lawyer

Darrow began his career reading law in Youngstown
Youngstown, Ohio
Youngstown is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Mahoning County; it also extends into Trumbull County. The municipality is situated on the Mahoning River, approximately southeast of Cleveland and northwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, where he was first admitted to the profession by Judge Alfred W. Mackey. He opened his first practice in Andover, Ohio, and then moved to Ashtabula, where he became involved in Democratic Party politics and served as the town counsel. In 1880 he married Jessie Ohl, and seven years later he moved to Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 with his wife and young son, Paul. There, he worked for the city government as a lawyer and made a mark for himself speaking at Democratic rallies and other speaking engagements. He was a close friend and protege of Illinois Gov. John Altgeld
John Peter Altgeld
John Peter Altgeld was the 20th Governor of the U.S. state of Illinois from 1893 until 1897. He was the first Democratic governor of that state since the 1850s...

 and helped secure a pardon from the governor for the anarchists who were imprisoned for the Haymarket Square bombing. With Altgeld's help, Darrow became a corporate
Corporation
A corporation is created under the laws of a state as a separate legal entity that has privileges and liabilities that are distinct from those of its members. There are many different forms of corporations, most of which are used to conduct business. Early corporations were established by charter...

 lawyer for the Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company, a major Midwestern railroad.
In 1894 Darrow represented Eugene V. Debs
Eugene V. Debs
Eugene Victor Debs was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World , and several times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States...

, the leader of the American Railway Union
American Railway Union
The American Railway Union , was the largest labor union of its time, and one of the first industrial unions in the United States. It was founded on June 20, 1893, by railway workers gathered in Chicago, Illinois, and under the leadership of Eugene V...

, who was prosecuted by the federal government for leading the Pullman Strike
Pullman Strike
The Pullman Strike was a nationwide conflict between labor unions and railroads that occurred in the United States in 1894. The conflict began in the town of Pullman, Illinois on May 11 when approximately 3,000 employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company began a wildcat strike in response to recent...

 of 1894. Darrow severed his ties with the railroad to represent Debs, making a financial sacrifice. He saved Debs in one trial but could not keep the union leader from being jailed in another.

Also in 1894, Darrow took on the first murder case of his career, defending Patrick Eugene Prendergast
Patrick Eugene Prendergast
Patrick Eugene Joseph Prendergast was the assassin of Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr.-Background:Prendergast was born in Ireland. His grandfather was reported to have died insane while his mother had "repeated attacks of hysterics" and his father died of consumption...

, the "mentally deranged drifter" who had confessed to murdering Chicago mayor Carter H. Harrison, Sr.
Carter Harrison, Sr.
Carter Henry Harrison, Sr. was an American politician who served as mayor of Chicago, Illinois from 1879 until 1887; he was subsequently elected to a fifth term in 1893 but was assassinated before completing his term. He previously served two terms in the United States House of Representatives...

  Darrow's "insanity defense" failed and Prendergast was executed that same year. Among fifty defenses in murder cases throughout the whole of Darrow's career, the Prendergast case would prove to be the only one resulting in an execution.

Darrow became one of America's leading labor attorneys. He helped organize the Populist Party in Illinois and then ran for Congress as a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 in 1896 but lost to Hugh R. Belknap
Hugh R. Belknap
Hugh Reid Belknap was a U.S. Representative from Illinois.Born in Keokuk, Iowa, Belknap attended the public schools, Adams Academy, Quincy, Massachusetts, and Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. At the age of eighteen he entered the service of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co...

. In 1897 his marriage ended in divorce. He represented the woodworkers of Wisconsin in a notable case in Oshkosh in 1898 and the United Mine Workers in Pennsylvania in the great anthracite coal strike of 1902. He flirted with the idea of running for mayor of Chicago in 1903 but ultimately decided against it. That year he married Ruby Hammerstrom, a young Chicago journalist.

From 1906 to 1908, Darrow represented the Western Federation of Miners leaders William "Big Bill" Haywood, Charles Moyer
Charles Moyer
Charles Moyer was an American labor leader and president of the Western Federation of Miners from 1902 to 1926. He led the union through the Colorado Labor Wars, was kidnapped and accused of murdering an ex-governor of the state of Idaho, and shot in the back during a bitter copper mine strike...

, and George Pettibone
George Pettibone
George Pettibone was an Idaho miner. He was convicted of contempt of court and criminal conspiracy in the Coeur d'Alene, Idaho labor confrontation of 1899....

 when they were arrested and charged with the 1905 murder of former Idaho Gov. Frank Steunenberg
Frank Steunenberg
Frank Steunenberg was the fourth Governor of the State of Idaho, serving from 1897 until 1901. He is perhaps best known for his 1905 assassination by one-time union member Harry Orchard, who was also a paid informant for the Cripple Creek Mine Owners' Association...

. After a series of trials, Haywood and Pettibone were found not guilty and the charges were dropped against Moyer.

The American Federation of Labor then called on Darrow to defend the McNamara brothers, John and James, who were charged with dynamiting the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

 building during the bitter struggle over the open shop
Open shop
An open shop is a place of employment at which one is not required to join or financially support a union as a condition of hiring or continued employment...

 in Southern California (21 employees had died as a result of the explosion). Darrow came to realize that the McNamara brothers were guilty but worked hard to have them acquitted. With his help, they were portrayed by the AFL as heroes to American workers, who contributed their hard-earned money to a McNamara defense fund. In November 1911, an orchestrated plot was launched by the defense to bribe jurors in the McNamara case. Darrow was at the scene of one attempted bribery, as one of his investigators was arrested handing money to one of the prospective jurors. With the case collapsing around him, Darrow convinced the brothers to change their plea to guilty. The plea bargain he helped arrange got them lengthy prison sentences instead of the death penalty, but he was accused by many in organized labor of selling the movement out.

Two months later, Darrow was charged with two counts of attempting to bribe jurors in both cases. He faced two lengthy trials. In the first, defended by Earl Rogers
Earl Rogers
Earl Rogers was a successful American trial lawyer.-Life:He was the son of a Methodist minister who went to California when Earl was still a small boy. He was admitted to the bar in 1897. One of his clerks was Buron Fitts. Rogers appeared for the defense in 77 murder trials and lost only three...

, he was acquitted. Early during the second trial Rogers resigned after a disagreement with Darrow over defense strategy; Darrow served as his own attorney for the remainder of the trial, which ended with a hung jury. A deal was struck in which the D.A. agreed not to retry Darrow if he promised not to practice law again in California. Darrow's early biographers—Irving Stone
Irving Stone
Irving Stone was an American writer known for his biographical novels of famous historical personalities, including Lust for Life, a biographical novel about the life of Vincent van Gogh, and The Agony and the Ecstasy, a biographical novel about Michelangelo.-Biography:In...

 and Arthur & Lila Weinberg—asserted that he was not involved in the bribery conspiracy; but more recently Geoffrey Cowan and John A. Farrell, with the help of new evidence, concluded that he almost certainly was.

From labor lawyer to criminal lawyer

As a consequence of the bribery charges, most labor unions dropped Darrow from their list of preferred attorneys. This effectively put Darrow out of business as a labor lawyer, and he switched to civil and, most notably, criminal cases. "He began taking criminal cases, because he had become convinced that what we are used to describing as 'the criminal-justice system' was a gigantic fraud that ruined real people's lives because they had no representation capable of defending them properly against it."

Throughout his career, Darrow devoted himself to opposing the death penalty, which he felt to be in conflict with humanitarian
Humanitarianism
In its most general form, humanitarianism is an ethic of kindness, benevolence and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all human beings. Humanitarianism has been an evolving concept historically but universality is a common element in its evolution...

 progress. In more than 100 cases, Darrow only lost one murder case in Chicago. He became renowned for moving juries and even judges to tears with his eloquence
Eloquence
Eloquence is fluent, forcible, elegant or persuasive speaking. It is primarily the power of expressing strong emotions in striking and appropriate language, thereby producing conviction or persuasion...

. Darrow had a keen intellect often hidden by his rumpled, unassuming appearance.

A July 23, 1915, article in the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

 describes Darrow's effort on behalf of J.H. Fox, an Evanston, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

, landlord, to have Mary S. Brazelton committed to an insane asylum against the wishes of her family. Fox alleged that Brazelton owed him rent money, although other residents of Fox's boarding house testified to her sanity.

Leopold and Loeb

In the summer of 1924, Darrow took on the case of Leopold and Loeb
Leopold and Loeb
Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb , more commonly known as "Leopold and Loeb", were two wealthy University of Michigan alumni and University of Chicago students who murdered 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in 1924 and were sentenced to life imprisonment.The duo were...

, the teenage sons of two wealthy Chicago families who were accused of kidnapping and killing Bobby Franks, a 14-year-old boy from their stylish Kenwood neighborhood
Kenwood, Chicago
Kenwood, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, Illinois, is one of the 77 well-defined Chicago community areas.Kenwood was part of Hyde Park Township, which was annexed by the City of Chicago in 1889....

. Nathan Leopold was 19 and Richard Loeb was 18 when they were arrested. Leopold was a law student at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 about to transfer to Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School
Harvard Law School is one of the professional graduate schools of Harvard University. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest continually-operating law school in the United States and is home to the largest academic law library in the world. The school is routinely ranked by the U.S...

. Loeb was the youngest graduate ever from the University of Michigan. When asked why they committed the crime, Leopold told his captors: "The thing that prompted Dick to want to do this thing and prompted me to want to do this thing was a sort of pure love of excitement... the imaginary love of thrills, doing something different... the satisfaction and the ego of putting something over."

The Chicago newspapers labeled the case the "Trial of the Century
Trial of the century
Trial of the century is an idiomatic phrase used to describe certain well-known court cases, especially of the 20th century. It is often used popularly as a rhetorical device to attach importance to a trial and as such is not an objective observation but is the opinion of whoever uses it. As...

" and Americans around the country wondered what could drive the two young men, blessed with everything their society could offer, to commit such a depraved act.

The killers were arrested after a passing workman spotted the victim's body in an isolated nature preserve near the Indiana border just half a day after it was hidden, before they could collect a $10,000 ransom. Nearby were Leopold's eyeglasses with their distinctive, traceable frames, which he had dropped at the scene.

Leopold and Loeb made full confessions and took police on a grim hunt around Chicago to collect the evidence that would be used against them. The state's attorney told the press that he had a "hanging case" for sure. Darrow stunned the prosecution when he had the killers plead guilty in order to avoid a vengeance-minded jury and place the case before a judge. The trial, then, was actually a long sentencing hearing in which Darrow contended, with the help of expert testimony, that Leopold and Loeb were mentally diseased.

Darrow's closing argument lasted 12 hours. He repeatedly stressed the ages of the "boys" (before the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, the age of majority
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

 was 21) and noted that "never had there been a case in Chicago where on a plea of guilty a boy under 21 had been sentenced to death." His famous plea was designed to soften the heart of Judge John Caverly, but also to mold public opinion, so that Caverly could follow precedent without too huge an uproar. Darrow succeeded. Caverly sentenced the killers to life plus 99 years. Darrow's closing argument "was something of a popular bestseller, in various editions, during the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was reissued at the time of Darrow's death."

The Leopold and Loeb case raised, in a well-publicized trial, Darrow's lifelong contention that psychological, physical, and environmental influences—not a conscious choice between right and wrong—control human behavior. The public got an education in psychology and medicine and, because Leopold was an admirer, the philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

During the Leopold-Loeb trial, the newspapers claimed that Darrow was presenting a "million dollar defense" for the two wealthy families. Many ordinary Americans were angered at his apparent greed. He had the families issue a statement insisting that there would be no large legal fees and that his fees would be determined by a committee composed of officers from the Chicago Bar Association. After trial, Darrow suggested $200,000 would be reasonable. After lengthy negotiations with the defendants' families, he ended up getting some $70,000 in gross fees, which, after expenses and taxes, netted Darrow $30,000.

The Scopes Trial

In 1925, Darrow defended John T. Scopes
John T. Scopes
John Thomas Scopes , was a biology teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, who was charged on May 5, 1925 for violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools...

 in the State of Tennessee v. Scopes
Scopes Trial
The Scopes Trial—formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and informally known as the Scopes 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...

 trial. It has often been called the "Scopes Monkey Trial," a title popularized by author and journalist H.L. Mencken. This pitted Darrow against William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States...

 in an American court case that tested the Butler Act
Butler Act
The Butler Act was a 1925 Tennessee law prohibiting public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of man’s origin. It was enacted as Tennessee Code Annotated Title 49 Section 1922...

, which had been passed on March 21, 1925. The act forbade the teaching in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 of "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals." The law made it illegal for public school teachers in Tennessee to teach that man evolved from lower organisms, but the law was sometimes interpreted as meaning that the law forbade the teaching of any aspect of the theory of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

. The law did not prohibit the teaching of evolution of any other species of plant or animal.

During the trial, Darrow requested that Bryan be called to the stand as an expert witness on the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. Over the other prosecutor's objection, Bryan agreed. Popular media at the time portrayed the following exchange as the deciding factor that turned public opinion against Bryan in the trial:

Darrow: "You have given considerable study to the Bible, haven't you, Mr. Bryan?"
Bryan: "Yes, sir; I have tried to.... But, of course, I have studied it more as I have become older than when I was a boy."
Darrow: "Do you claim then that everything in the Bible should be literally interpreted?"
Bryan: "I believe that 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."


After about two hours, Judge John T. Raulston
John T. Raulston
John Tate Raulston was an American state judge in Rhea County, Tennessee, best known for presiding over the 1925 Scopes Trial, a famous creationism-evolution debate....

 cut the questioning short and on the following morning ordered that the whole session (which in any case the jury had not witnessed) be expunged from the record, ruling that the testimony had no bearing on whether Scopes was guilty of teaching evolution. Scopes was found guilty and ordered to pay the minimum fine of $100.

A year later, the Tennessee Supreme Court
Tennessee Supreme Court
The Tennessee Supreme Court is the state supreme court of the state of Tennessee. Cornelia Clark is the current Chief Justice.Unlike other states, in which the state attorney general is directly elected or appointed by the governor or state legislature, the Tennessee Supreme Court appoints the...

 reversed the decision of the Dayton court on a technicality—not on constitutional grounds, as Darrow had hoped. According to the court, the fine should have been set by the jury, not Raulston. Rather than send the case back for further action, however, the Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed the case. The court commented, "Nothing is to be gained by prolonging the life of this bizarre case."

This event led to a change in public sentiment, and an increased discourse on the subject of faith versus science that still exists in America. It also became popularized in a play based loosely on the trial, Inherit the Wind
Inherit the Wind
Inherit the Wind may refer to:* Inherit the Wind , a 1955 play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee* Inherit the Wind , directed by Stanley Kramer; starring Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, and Gene Kelly...

, which later became a film.

Ossian Sweet

A white
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 mob in Detroit attempted to drive a black family out of the home they had purchased in a white neighborhood. In the struggle, a white man was killed and the eleven blacks in the house were arrested and charged with murder. Dr. Ossian Sweet
Ossian Sweet
Ossian Sweet was an American physician. He is most notable for his self defense in 1925 of his newly-purchased home in a predominantly white neighborhood against a mob attempting to force him out of the neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, and the subsequent acquittal by an all-white jury of murder...

 and three members of his family were brought to trial, and after an initial deadlock, Darrow argued to the all-white jury
All-white jury
An "all-white jury" is an American political term used to describe a jury in a criminal trial, or grand jury investigation, composed only of white people, with the implication that the deliberations may not be fair and unbiased...

: "I insist that there is nothing but prejudice in this case; that if it was reversed and eleven white men had shot and killed a black while protecting their home and their lives against a mob of blacks, nobody would have dreamed of having them indicted. They would have been given medals instead...." Following the mistrial of the 11, it was agreed that each of them would be tried individually. Darrow, alongside Thomas Chawke, would first defend Ossian's brother Henry, who had confessed to firing the shot on Garland Street. Henry was found not guilty on grounds of self defense, and the prosecution determined to drop
Nolle prosequi
Nolle prosequi is legal term of art and a Latin legal phrase meaning "to be unwilling to pursue", a phrase amounting to "please do not prosecute". It is a phrase used in many common law criminal prosecution contexts to describe a prosecutor's decision to voluntarily discontinue criminal charges...

 the charges on the remaining 10. The trials were presided over by the Honorable Frank Murphy
Frank Murphy
William Francis Murphy was a politician and jurist from Michigan. He served as First Assistant U.S. District Attorney, Eastern Michigan District , Recorder's Court Judge, Detroit . Mayor of Detroit , the last Governor-General of the Philippines , U.S...

, who went on to become Governor of Michigan
Governor of Michigan
The Governor of Michigan is the chief executive of the U.S. State of Michigan. The current Governor is Rick Snyder, a member of the Republican Party.-Gubernatorial elections and term of office:...

 and an Associate Justice
Associate Justice
Associate Justice or Associate Judge is the title for a member of a judicial panel who is not the Chief Justice in some jurisdictions. The title "Associate Justice" is used for members of the United States Supreme Court and some state supreme courts, and for some other courts in Commonwealth...

 of the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

.
Darrow's final closing statement, which lasted over seven hours, is seen as a landmark in the Civil Rights
Civil rights
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from unwarranted infringement by governments and private organizations, and ensure one's ability to participate in the civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression.Civil rights include...

 movement and was included in the book 'Speeches that Changed the World' (given the name 'I Believe in the Law of Love'). Uniquely, the two closing arguments of Clarence Darrow, from the first and second trials, are available and these show how he learned from the first trial and reshaped his remarks.

Massie Trial

Aged 68, Darrow had already announced his retirement before he volunteered to take part in the Scopes Trial
Scopes Trial
The Scopes Trial—formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and informally known as the Scopes 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...

, apart from the Sweet trial later that same year. After those final trials, Darrow retired from full-time practice, emerging only occasionally to undertake cases such as the 1932 Massie Trial
Massie Trial
The Massie Trial for what was known as the Massie Affair, was a 1932 criminal trial that took place in Honolulu, Hawaii. Grace Hubbard Fortescue, along with several accomplices, was charged with murder in the death of well known local prizefighter Joseph Kahahawai...

 in Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

.

In his last headline-making case, the Massie Trial, Darrow—devastated by the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

—was hired to come to the defense of Grace Hubbard Fortescue, Edward J. Lord, Deacon Jones, and Thomas Massie, Fortescue's son-in-law, who were accused of murdering Joseph Kahahawai
Joseph Kahahawai
Joseph "Joe" Kahahawai Jr. was a Native Hawaiian prizefighter accused of the rape of Thalia Massie. He was abducted and killed after he was freed by a mistrial.-Early life:...

. Kahahawai had been accused, along with four other men, of raping and beating Thalia Massie, Thomas's wife and Fortescue's daughter; the resulting 1931 case ended in a hung jury (though the charges were later dropped and repeated investigation has shown them to be innocent). Enraged, Fortescue and Massie then orchestrated the murder of Kahahawai in order to extract a confession and were caught by police officers while transporting his dead body.

Darrow entered the racially charged atmosphere as the lawyer for the defendants. Darrow reconstructed the case as a justified honor killing
Honor killing
An honor killing or honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community...

. Considered by the New York Times to be one of Darrow's three most compelling trials (along with the Scopes Trial and the Leopold and Loeb case), the case captivated the nation and most of white America strongly supported the honor killing defense. In fact, the final defense arguments were transmitted to the mainland through a special radio hookup. In the end, the jury came back with a unanimous verdict of guilty, but on the lesser crime of manslaughter. As to Darrow's closing, one juror commented, "[h]e talked to us like a bunch of farmers. That stuff may go over big in the Middle West, but not here."

Books by Darrow

A volume of Darrow's boyhood reminiscences, entitled "Farmington," was published in Chicago in 1903 by McClurg and Company.

Darrow shared offices with Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters was an American poet, biographer, and dramatist...

, who achieved more fame for his poetry, in particular the Spoon River Anthology
Spoon River Anthology
Spoon River Anthology , by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of short free-form poems that collectively describe the life of the fictional small town of Spoon River, named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' home town. The collection includes two hundred and twelve separate...

, than for his advocacy.

The papers of Clarence Darrow are located at the Library of Congress. The Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center of the University of Minnesota Law School
University of Minnesota Law School
The University of Minnesota Law School, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, is a professional school of the University of Minnesota. The school offers a Juris Doctor , Masters of Law for Foreign Lawyers, and joint degrees with J.D./M.B.A., J.D./M.P.A, J.D./M.A., J.D./M.S., J.D./Ph.D.,...

 has the largest collection of letters to and from Darrow, though they remain closed to the public.

List of books

  • Crime: Its Cause and Treatment
  • Persian Pearl
  • The Story of My Life
  • Farmington
  • Resist Not Evil
  • Marx vs Tolstoy

Legacy

Today, Clarence Darrow is remembered for his reputation as a fierce litigator who, in many cases, championed the cause of the underdog; because of this, he is generally regarded, for better or worse, as one of the greatest criminal defense lawyers in American history.

Onscreen

  • Darrow, a film starring Kevin Spacey
    Kevin Spacey
    Kevin Spacey, CBE is an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and crooner. He grew up in California, and began his career as a stage actor during the 1980s, before being cast in supporting roles in film and television...

     and released by American Playhouse in 1991.

Onstage

  • Darrow
    Darrow
    Darrow is a surname of Scottish descent, and may refer to:* Alex Darrow, American entrepreneur , founder of PictureTheWorld* Ann Darrow, fictional character from King Kong* Benjamin Darrow, American District Attorney...

    , a full-length one-man play created created after his death, featuring Darrow's reminiscences about his career. Originated by Henry Fonda
    Henry Fonda
    Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

    , many actors, including Leslie Nielsen
    Leslie Nielsen
    Leslie William Nielsen, OC was a Canadian and naturalized American actor and comedian. Nielsen appeared in more than one hundred films and 1,500 television programs over the span of his career, portraying more than 220 characters...

     and David Canary
    David Canary
    David Hoyt Canary is an American actor, who starred in both soap operas and prime time television. He is best known for his roles as the ranch foreman, Candy Canaday on Bonanza and identical twins Adam Chandler from 1983 to 2010 and Stuart Chandler from 1984 to 2009 on the daytime serial, All My...

    , have since taken on the role of Darrow in this play.
  • Inherit the Wind
    Inherit the Wind (play)
    Inherit the Wind is a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee. The play, which debuted in 1955, is a parable that fictionalizes the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial as a means to discuss the then-contemporary McCarthy trials.-Background:...

    , a play (later adapted to the screen) which is a broadly fictionalized account of the Scopes Trial
    Scopes Trial
    The Scopes Trial—formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and informally known as the Scopes 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...

    . Though the authors note that the 1925 trial was "clearly the genesis" of their play, they insist that the characters had "life and language of their own." They also mention that the issues raised in the play "have acquired new dimension and meaning", a possible reference to the political controversies of the 1950s. Still, they finish their foreword by inviting a more universal reading of the play: "It might have been yesterday. It could be tomorrow."
  • Malice Aforethought: The Sweet Trials is a play written by Arthur Beer, based on the trials of Ossian
    Ossian Sweet
    Ossian Sweet was an American physician. He is most notable for his self defense in 1925 of his newly-purchased home in a predominantly white neighborhood against a mob attempting to force him out of the neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, and the subsequent acquittal by an all-white jury of murder...

     and Henry Sweet, and derived from Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice.

In publications

  • Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell was published by Doubleday in June, 2011, and includes a wealth of new material opened to scholars in 2010 by the University of Minnesota law library.
  • The Angel of Darkness
    The Angel of Darkness
    The Angel of Darkness is a novel by Caleb Carr. It was published in 1997; and is a follow-up of The Alienist.-Historical figures in the novel:* Clarence Darrow* Theodore Roosevelt* Cornelius Vanderbilt II...

    , Darrow is a main character in the fictional Caleb Carr
    Caleb Carr
    Caleb Carr is an American novelist and military historian.-Biography:A son of Lucien Carr, a former UPI editor and a key Beat generation figure, he was born in Manhattan and lived for much of his life on the Lower East Side. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a B.A. in...

     novel.
  • Arc of Justice (Owl Books, 2004), Kevin Boyle's book looks in-depth at the Ossian Sweet
    Ossian Sweet
    Ossian Sweet was an American physician. He is most notable for his self defense in 1925 of his newly-purchased home in a predominantly white neighborhood against a mob attempting to force him out of the neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, and the subsequent acquittal by an all-white jury of murder...

     trial.
  • Clarence Darrow for the Defense, a biography by historical novelist Irving Stone
    Irving Stone
    Irving Stone was an American writer known for his biographical novels of famous historical personalities, including Lust for Life, a biographical novel about the life of Vincent van Gogh, and The Agony and the Ecstasy, a biographical novel about Michelangelo.-Biography:In...

    .
  • Compulsion (1956), Darrow was the inspiration for the character of Jonathan Wilk in the novel, a thinly fictionalized account of the Leopold and Loeb
    Leopold and Loeb
    Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb , more commonly known as "Leopold and Loeb", were two wealthy University of Michigan alumni and University of Chicago students who murdered 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks in 1924 and were sentenced to life imprisonment.The duo were...

     case. In 1959, the novel was adapted into a film of the same name
    Compulsion (film)
    Compulsion, directed by Richard Fleischer, was a film made in 1959, based on the 1956 novel Compulsion by Meyer Levin, which in turn was based on the Leopold and Loeb trial. It was the first film Richard D. Zanuck produced.- Plot :...

    , starring Orson Welles
    Orson Welles
    George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

     as Wilk. Welles, whose closing monologue
    Monologue
    In theatre, a monologue is a speech presented by a single character, most often to express their thoughts aloud, though sometimes also to directly address another character or the audience. Monologues are common across the range of dramatic media...

     was the longest ever committed to film at that time, shared the Best Actor award with co-stars Bradford Dillman
    Bradford Dillman
    -Early life:Bradford Dillman was born on April 14, 1930 in San Francisco, California, the son of Josephine and Dean Dillman, a stockbroker. He studied at Town School for Boys and St. Ignatius High School. Later he attended the Hotchkiss boarding school in Connecticut, where he became involved in...

     and Dean Stockwell
    Dean Stockwell
    Dean Stockwell is an American actor of film and television, with a career spanning over 65 years. As a child actor under contract to MGM he first came to the public's attention in films such as Anchors Aweigh and The Green Years; as a young adult he played a lead role in the 1957 Broadway and...

     at that year's Cannes Film Festival
    Cannes Film Festival
    The Cannes International Film Festival , is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres including documentaries from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is among the world's most prestigious and publicized film festivals...

    .
  • The People v. Clarence Darrow (ISBN 978-0-8129-2179-3), Geoffrey Cowan's book is a penetrating analysis of Darrow, both as a lawyer and as a person.

Other

  • The Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge is located in Chicago, just south of the Museum of Science & Industry.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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