Clarence Darrow

Clarence Seward Darrow (/ˈdæroʊ/; April 18, 1857 – March 13, 1938) was an American lawyer, a leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and a prominent advocate for Georgist economic reform. He defended high-profile clients in many famous trials of the early 20th century, including teenage thrill killers Leopold and Loeb for murdering 14-year-old Robert "Bobby" Franks (1924); teacher John T. Scopes in the Scopes "Monkey" Trial (1925), in which he opposed statesman and orator William Jennings Bryan; and Ossian Sweet in a racially charged self-defense case (1926). Called a "sophisticated country lawyer",[1] Darrow's wit and eloquence made him one of the most prominent attorneys and civil libertarians in the nation.[2]

Clarence Darrow
Clarence Darrow
Clarence Seward Darrow, c. 1922
Clarence Seward Darrow

April 18, 1857
DiedMarch 13, 1938 (aged 80)
Chicago, Illinois, US
Alma materAllegheny College
University of Michigan

Early life

Clarence Darrow was born in the small town of Kinsman, Ohio, on April 18, 1857,[3] the fifth son of Amirus and Emily Darrow (née Eddy). Both the Darrow and Eddy families had deep roots in colonial New England, and several of Darrow's ancestors served in the American Revolution. Darrow's father was an ardent abolitionist and a proud iconoclast and religious freethinker. He was known throughout the town as the "village infidel".[4] Emily Darrow was an early supporter of female suffrage and a women's rights advocate.

The young Clarence attended Allegheny College and the University of Michigan Law School, but did not graduate from either institution. He attended Allegheny College for only one year before the Panic of 1873 struck, and Darrow was determined not to be a financial burden to his father any longer. Over the next three years he taught in the winter at the district school in a country community. While teaching, Darrow started to study the law on his own, and by the end of his third year of teaching, his family urged him to enter the law department at Ann Arbor. Darrow only studied there a year when he decided that it would be much more cost-effective to work and study in an actual law office. When he felt that he was ready, he took the Ohio bar exam and passed.[5] He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1878. The Clarence Darrow Octagon House, his childhood home in Kinsman, contains a memorial to him.

Marriages and child

Darrow married Jessie Ohl in April 1880. They had one child, Paul Edward Darrow, in 1883. They were divorced in 1897. Darrow later married Ruby Hammerstrom, a journalist 16 years his junior, in 1903. They had no children.[6]

Legal career

Darrow opened his first little law office in Andover, Ohio, a small farming town just ten miles from Kinsman. Having little to no experience, he started off slowly and gradually built up his career by dealing with the everyday complaints and problems of a farming community. After two years Darrow felt he was ready to take on new and different cases and moved his practice to Ashtabula, Ohio, which had a population of 5,000 people and was the largest city in the county.[5] There he became involved in Democratic Party politics and served as the town counsel.

In 1880, he married Jessie Ohl, and eight years later he moved to Chicago with his wife and young son, Paul. He did not have much business when he first moved to Chicago, and spent as little as possible. He joined the Henry George Club and made some friends and connections in the city. Being part of the club also gave him an opportunity to speak for the Democratic Party on the upcoming election. He slowly made a name for himself through these speeches, eventually earning the standing to speak in whatever hall he liked. He was offered work as an attorney for the city of Chicago. Darrow worked in the city law department for two years when he resigned and took a position as a lawyer at the Chicago and North-Western Railway Company.[5] In 1894, Darrow represented Eugene V. Debs, the leader of the American Railway Union, who was prosecuted by the federal government for leading the Pullman Strike 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 him from being jailed in another.

Also in 1894, Darrow took on the first murder case of his career, defending Patrick Eugene Prendergast, the "mentally deranged drifter" who had confessed to murdering Chicago mayor Carter Harrison, Sr.[7] 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, though Darrow did not join the defense team until after Prendergast's conviction and sentence, in an effort to spare him the noose.[7]

From corporate lawyer to labor lawyer

Darrow soon became one of America's leading labor attorneys. He helped organize the Populist Party in Illinois and then ran for U.S. Congress as a Democrat in 1895 but lost to Hugh R. Belknap. In 1897, his marriage to Jessie Ohl ended in divorce. He joined the Anti-Imperialist League in 1898 in opposition to the U.S. annexation of the Philippines. 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. The following year, in July, Darrow married Ruby Hammerstrom, a young Chicago journalist.[8] His former mentor, Governor John Peter Altgeld, joined Darrow's firm following his Chicago mayoral electoral defeat in 1899 and worked with Darrow until his death in 1902.

Clarence Darrow in 1902[9]

From 1906 to 1908, Darrow represented the Western Federation of Miners leaders William "Big Bill" Haywood, Charles Moyer, and George Pettibone when they were arrested and charged with conspiring to murder former Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg in 1905. Haywood and Pettibone were found not guilty in separate trials, and the charges against Moyer were then dropped.

In 1911, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) called on Darrow to defend the McNamara brothers, John and James, who were charged in the Los Angeles Times bombing on October 1, 1910, during the bitter struggle over the open shop in Southern California. The bomb had been placed in an alley behind the building, and although the explosion itself did not bring the building down, it ignited nearby ink barrels and natural gas main lines. In the ensuing fire, 20 people were killed. The AFL appealed to local, state, regional and national unions to donate 25 cents per capita to the defense fund, and set up defense committees in larger cities throughout the nation to accept donations.

In the weeks before the jury was seated, Darrow became increasingly concerned about the outcome of the trial and began negotiations for a plea bargain to spare the defendants' lives. During the weekend of November 19–20, 1911, he discussed with pro-labor journalist Lincoln Steffens and newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps the possibility of reaching out to the Times about the terms of a plea agreement. The prosecution had demands of its own, however, including an admission of guilt in open court and longer sentences than the defense proposed.[10][11]

The defense's position weakened when, on November 28, Darrow was accused of orchestrating to bribe a prospective juror. The juror reported the offer to police, who set up a sting and observed the defense team's chief investigator, Bert Franklin, delivering $4,000 to the juror two blocks away from Darrow's office. After making payment, Franklin walked one block in the direction of Darrow's office before being arrested right in front of Darrow himself, who had just walked to that very intersection after receiving a phone call in his office. With Darrow himself on the verge of being discredited, the defense's hope for a simple plea agreement ended.[12][13] On December 1, 1911, the McNamara brothers changed their pleas to guilty, in open court. The plea bargain Darrow helped arrange earned John fifteen years and James life imprisonment. Despite sparing the brothers the death penalty, Darrow 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, he was acquitted. Rogers became ill during the second trial and rarely came to court.[14] 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 district attorney agreed not to retry Darrow if he promised not to practice law again in California.[15] Darrow's early biographers, Irving Stone and Arthur and 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.[12] In the biography of Earl Rogers by his daughter Adela, she wrote: "I never had any doubts, even before one of my father's private conversations with Darrow included an admission of guilt to his lawyer."[16]

From labor lawyer to criminal lawyer

Clarence Darrow cph.3b31130
Darrow in 1913

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 criminal cases. He took the latter because he had become convinced that the criminal justice system could ruin people's lives if they were not adequately represented.[17]

Throughout his career, Darrow devoted himself to opposing the death penalty, which he felt to be in conflict with humanitarian 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. Darrow had a keen intellect often hidden by his rumpled, unassuming appearance.

A July 23, 1915, article in the Chicago Tribune describes Darrow's effort on behalf of J.H. Fox, an Evanston, Illinois, 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.

National renown

Leopold and Loeb

In the summer of 1924, Darrow took on the case of Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb, 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 southside Kenwood neighborhood. Leopold was a law student at the University of Chicago about to transfer to Harvard Law School, and Loeb was the youngest graduate ever from the University of Michigan; they were 18 and 17, respectively, when they were arrested.[5] 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."

Chicago newspapers labeled the case the "Trial of the Century"[18] 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 had been 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 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 his clients 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, the age of majority 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 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 Leopold and Loeb to life in prison plus 99 years. Darrow's closing argument was published in several editions in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and was reissued at the time of his death.[17]

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. Darrow's psychiatric expert witnesses testified that both boys "were decidedly deficient in emotion". Darrow later argued that emotion is necessary for the decisions that people make. When someone tries to go against a certain law or custom that is forbidden, he wrote, he should feel a sense of revulsion. As neither Leopold nor Loeb had a working emotional system, they did not feel revolted.[5]

During the 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, worth over $375,000 in 2016.[19]

Scopes Trial

Clarence S Darrow
Clarence Darrow circa 1925

In 1925, Darrow defended John T. Scopes in the State of Tennessee v. Scopes trial. It has often been called the "Scopes Monkey Trial," a title popularized by author and journalist H.L. Mencken. The trial, which was deliberately staged to bring publicity to the issue at hand, pitted Darrow against William Jennings Bryan in a court case that tested Tennessee's Butler Act, which had been passed on March 21, 1925. The act forbade the teaching of "the Evolution Theory" in any state-funded educational establishment. More broadly, it outlawed in state-funded schools (including universities) the teaching of "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."

During the trial, Darrow requested that Bryan be called to the stand as an expert witness on the Bible. 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 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 reversed the decision of the Dayton court on a procedural 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."

The event led to a change in public sentiment and an increased discourse on the creation claims of religious teachers versus those of secular scientists — i.e., creationism compared to evolutionism — that still exists. It also became popularized in a play based loosely on the trial, Inherit the Wind, which has been adapted several times on film and television.

Ossian Sweet

On September 9, 1925, a white mob in Detroit attempted to drive a black family out of the home they had purchased in a white neighborhood. During the struggle, a white man was killed, and the eleven black men in the house were later arrested and charged with murder. Ossian Sweet, a doctor, and three members of his family were brought to trial, and after an initial deadlock, Darrow argued to the all-white jury: "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 man 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...." [20]

Following a mistrial, it was agreed that each of the eleven defendants 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 the charges on the remaining ten. The trials were presided over by Frank Murphy, who went on to become Governor of Michigan and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.[21] Darrow's closing statement, which lasted over seven hours, is seen as a landmark in the Civil Rights movement and was included in the book Speeches that Changed the World (given the name "I Believe in the Law of Love"). The two closing arguments of Clarence Darrow, from the first and second trials, show how he learned from the first trial and reshaped his remarks.[22]

Massie Trial

The Scopes Trial and the Sweet trial were the last big cases that Darrow took on before he retired from full-time practice at the age of 68. He still took on a few cases such as the 1932 Massie Trial in Hawaii.

In his last headline-making case, the Massie Trial, Darrow, devastated by the Great Depression, was hired by Eva Stotesbury, the wife of Darrow's old family friend Edward T. Stotesbury, to come to the defense of Grace Fortescue, Edward J. Lord, Deacon Jones, and Thomas Massie, Fortescue's son-in-law, who were accused of murdering Joseph Kahahawai. 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 by Thomas Massie. 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.[23] 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."[24] Governor Lawrence Judd later commuted the sentences to one hour in his office.[25] Years later Deacon admitted to shooting Kahahawai; Massie was found "not Guilty" in a posthumous trial.

Religious beliefs

"Why I Am An Agnostic"

As part of a public symposium on belief held in Columbus, Ohio, Darrow delivered a speech, later titled "Why I Am An Agnostic", on agnosticism, skepticism, belief, and religion.[26] In the speech, Darrow thoroughly discussed the meaning of being an agnostic and questioned the doctrines of Christianity and the Bible. He concluded that "the fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is the death of wisdom. Skepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom."[27]

Mecca Temple Debate

In January 1931 Darrow had a debate with English writer G. K. Chesterton during the latter's second trip to America. This was held at New York City's Mecca Temple. The topic was "Will the World Return to Religion?". At the end of the debate those in the hall were asked to vote for the man they thought had won the debate. Darrow received 1,022 votes while Chesterton received 2,359 votes. There is no known transcript of what was said except for third party accounts published later on. The earliest of these was that of February 4, 1931, issue of The Nation with an article written by Henry Hazlitt.[28][29]

Position on eugenics

In the edition of November 18, 1915 of The Washington Post, Darrow stated: “Chloroform unfit children. Show them the same mercy that is shown beasts that are no longer fit to live.” However, Darrow was also critical of some eugenics advocates.[30][31] By the 1920s, the eugenics movement was very powerful and Darrow was a pointed critic of that movement. In the years immediately before the Supreme Court of the United States would endorse eugenics through Buck v. Bell (1927),[32] Darrow wrote multiple essays criticizing the illogic of the eugenicists, especially the confirmation bias in eugenicist arguments. [33] In a 1925 essay, “The Edwardses and the Jukeses,” he imitated the eugenicists’ tracking of pedigrees as a way to demonstrate that their retrospective centuries-long family tree studies were omitting literally thousands of relatives whose lives did not support the researchers’ preconceptions. Eugenicist arguments about the eminent Edwards family (of the theologian Jonathan Edwards) ignored that family’s mediocre relatives, and even ignored some immediately related murderers. Eugenicist arguments about The Jukes family did just the opposite, leaving ignored or untraced many functional and law-abiding relatives.[34] In Darrow’s subsequent essay, “The Eugenics Cult” (1926), he attacked the reasoning of eugenicists. [35] “On the basis of what biological principles, and by what psychological hocus-pocus [Dr. William McDougall] reaches the conclusion that the ability to read intelligently denotes a good germ-plasm and desirable citizens I cannot say,” he wrote. [36] Darrow also impugned whether humanity even knows what qualities it would take to make humanity “better,” and compared humanity’s biology experiments unfavorably to those of Nature. [37]


Darrow died on March 13, 1938, of pulmonary heart disease.[38][39]


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 as one of the greatest criminal defense lawyers in American history.

Inherit the wind trailer (3) Spencer Tracy
Henry Drummond (left), a fictionalized version of Clarence Darrow, as portrayed by Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind.

According to legend, before he died, Darrow declared that if there was an afterlife, he would return on the small bridge (now known as the Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge) located just south of the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park, Chicago on the date of his death. Darrow was skeptical of a belief in life after death (he is reported to have said: "Every man knows when his life began... If I did not exist in the past, why should I, or could I, exist in the future?") but he made this promise to dissuade mediums from charging people money to "talk" to his spirit. People still gather on the bridge in the hopes of seeing his ghost.[40]


  • Darrow, a full-length one-man play created after his death, featuring Darrow's reminiscences about his career. Originated by Henry Fonda, many actors (including Leslie Nielsen and David Canary) have since taken on the role of Darrow in this play, which was adapted as Darrow, a film starring Kevin Spacey and released by American Playhouse in 1991.
  • Inherit the Wind, a play (later adapted to the screen) which is a broadly fictionalized account of the Scopes Trial. 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."[41] Spencer Tracy played the Darrow character ("Henry Drummond") in the film, and Jason Robards plays him in a TV remake in 1988.
  • Malice Aforethought: The Sweet Trials is a play written by Arthur Beer, based on the trials of Ossian and Henry Sweet, and derived from Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice.[42]
  • My Name is Ossian Sweet, a docudrama written by Gordon C. Bennett, based on the Sweet trials in which the black family was defended by Darrow against a charge of murder in Detroit 1925. Published (2011) at
  • Clarence Darrow by David W. Rintels, where Kevin Spacey again portrayed Darrow in this one-man performance in 2014[43] and 2015.[44]
  • Clarence Darrow Tonight! written and performed by Laurence Luckinbill, debuted at The Ensemble Theater in NYC and performed throughout the country, including at President Bill Clinton's second inaugural in 1996. Winner of the 1996 Silver Gavel Award for Theater, given by the American Bar Association.
  • During a police interrogation at the police station in the 1949 movie Holiday Affair, the character, Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh) said to the lieutenant (Harry Morgan), "Your honor, I think I can clear this all up." The lieutenant said, "Go ahead, if Clarence Darrow here doesn't have any objections." He was referring to her fiancé in the movie Carl Davis, played by Wendell Corey.

Film and television



  • Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell, published by Doubleday in June 2011; includes new material opened to the public in June 2010 by the University of Minnesota Law Library through the Clarence Darrow Digital Collection
  • The Angel of Darkness, with Darrow as a main character in the fictional Caleb Carr novel
  • Arc of Justice (Owl Books, 2004) by Kevin Boyle; in-depth look at the Ossian Sweet trial
  • Clarence Darrow for the Defense, a biography by historical novelist Irving Stone
  • Compulsion (1956), Darrow was the inspiration for the character of Jonathan Wilk in the novel, a thinly fictionalized account of the Leopold and Loeb case. In 1959, the novel was adapted into a film of the same name, starring Orson Welles as Wilk. Welles, whose closing Address to the Judge on a guilty plea for mercy is abbreviated to the longest monologue ever committed to film at that time, shared the Best Actor award with co-stars Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell at that year's Cannes Film Festival.
  • The People v. Clarence Darrow (ISBN 978-0-8129-2179-3) by Geoffrey Cowan; the history of the California criminal case against Darrow for attempting to bribe a juror while defending the McNamara brothers, two labor organizers accused of planting a bomb which destroyed the printing plant of the Los Angeles Times and killed 21 workers.
  • "Is Religion Necessary" (Haldeman-Julius Publications); a transcript of the debate between Clarence Darrow and Rev. Robert MacGovern, 1931.


  • Damned In Paradise, a Nate Heller novel by Max Allan Collins features a fictionalized account of the Massie Trial.


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, who achieved more fame for his poetry, in particular, the Spoon River Anthology, than for his advocacy.

The papers of Clarence Darrow are located at the Library of Congress and the University of Minnesota Libraries. The Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center[47] of the University of Minnesota Law School has the largest collection of Clarence Darrow material including personal letters to and from Darrow. Many of these letters and other material are available on the U of M's Clarence Darrow Digital Collection[48] website.

List of books

References and further reading

  • Baatz, Simon. For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago (New York: HarperCollins, 2008)
  • Blum, Howard. American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century, 2008, Crown.[49]
  • Boyle, Kevin. Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2004). (National Book Award Winner) ISBN 978-0-8050-7933-3.
  • Farrell, John Aloysius. "Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned". Doubleday, New York: 2011. ISBN 0-385-52258-4.
  • Hakim, Joy (1995). War, Peace, and All That Jazz. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
  • Haldeman-Julius, Marcet. Clarence Darrow's Two Great Trials: Reports of the Scopes Anti-Evolution Case and the Dr. Sweet Negro Trial. Girard: Haldeman-Julius Co., 1927.[50]
  • Mackey, Judge Alfred W. Clarence Darrow biography
  • McRae, Donald. The Last Trials of Clarence Darrow (New York: William Morrow publishers, 2009). ISBN 978-0-06-116149-0.
  • Morton, Richard Allen. "A Victorian Tragedy: The Strange Deaths of Mayor Carter H. Harrison and Patrick Eugene Pendergast," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Spring 2003 (here).
  • Ossian Sweet Murder Trial Scrapbook, 1925. Scrapbook and photocopy of the Nov. 1925 murder trial of Ossian Sweet. Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.[51]
  • Weinberg, Arthur (ed.). Attorney for the Damned: Clarence Darrow in the Courtroom." (University of Chicago Press, 1989) ISBN 978-0-226-13649-3.
  • Weinberg, Arthur & Lila. "Clarence Darrow: A Sentimental Rebel" Atheneum; 1st Atheneum pbk. ed edition (March 1987)
  • St. Johns, Adela Rogers: Final Verdict (Doubleday, 1962; biography of Earl Rogers, relating the events of Darrow's trials for jury bribery)
  • Stone, Irving. Clarence Darrow For The Defense (Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1941).
  • Toms, Robert. "Speech on the Sweet murder trials upon retirement of the prosecuting attorney in 1960." Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University.[51]
  • Vine, Phyllis. One Man's Castle: Clarence Darrow in Defense of the American Dream. (New York: Amistad, 2005). ISBN 978-0-06-621415-3.

Primary sources


  1. ^ Linder, Douglas O. (1997). "Who Is Clarence Darrow?" Archived March 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, The Clarence Darrow Home Page
  2. ^ Hakim, Joy (1995). War, Peace, and All That Jazz. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
  3. ^ Darrow, Clarence (1932). The Story of My Life. New York: Grosset and Dunlap. p. 12.
  4. ^ Darrow, Clarence (1932). The Story of My Life. New York: Grosset and Dunlap. p. 13.
  5. ^ a b c d e Darrow, Clarence (1932). The Story of My Life. New York: Grosset and Dunlap.
  6. ^ "Clarence Darrow- Early Life and Law Career". jrank. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Clarence Darrow: Biography and Much More from at
  8. ^ Passport application, accessed through
  9. ^ Donovan, Henry. "Chicago Eagle". Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Darrow, Clarence. The Story of My Life, 1932. Project Guttenberg.
  11. ^ Foner, Phillip S. History of the Labor Movement in the United States: The AFL in the Progressive Era, 1910–1915, 1980.
  12. ^ a b Farrell, John A. "Darrow in the Dock". Smithsonian Magazine, December 2011, Volume 42, Number 8, pp. 98–111.
  13. ^ Cowan, The People v. Clarence Darrow: The Bribery Trial of America's Greatest Lawyer, 1994
  14. ^ Cowan, Geoffrey (1993). The People V. Clarence Darrow: The Bribery Trial of America's Greatest Lawyer. New York: Random House.
  15. ^ see in "Clarence Darrow: A Sentimental Rebel" by Arthur and Lila Weinberg.
  16. ^ Adela Rogers St. Johns: Final Verdict, (Doubleday, 1962) 457.
  17. ^ a b Riggenbach, Jeff (March 25, 2011). "Clarence Darrow on Freedom, Justice, and War". Mises Daily. Ludwig von Mises Institute.
  18. ^ JURIST – The Trial of Leopold and Loeb Archived November 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Prof. Douglas Linder. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
  19. ^ See, A. Weinberg, ed., Attorney for the Damned, pp. 17–18, n. 1 (Simon & Schuster, 1957)); Hulbert papers, Northwestern University.
  20. ^ B. J., Widick (May 1, 1989). Detroit: City of Race and Class Violence (Revised ed.). Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press. p. 8.
  21. ^ *Boyle, Kevin, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age (Henry Holt & Company, New York: 2004) (National Book Award Winner) ISBN 978-0-8050-7933-3.
  22. ^ "Darrow's Summations in the Sweet Trials (1925 &1926)". May 11, 1926. Archived from the original on June 24, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  23. ^ David Stannard."The Massie case: Injustice and courage". The Honolulu Advertiser, October 14, 2001.
  24. ^ Stannard, David E. (2006) [First published 2005]. Honor Killing: Race, Rape, and Clarence Darrow's Spectacular Last Case. Penguin Group. p. 382. ISBN 978-0-14-303663-0.
  25. ^ Page 86 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 8, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ The Essential Words and Writings of Clarence Darrow. Modern Library. 2007. p. 20. ISBN 978-0812966770.
  27. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2016. Retrieved October 15, 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Clarence Darrow debate". American Chesterton Society. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  29. ^ "G.K. Chesterton January, 1915". Clarence Darrow digital collection. University of Minnesota Law School. Archived from the original on May 21, 2014. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  30. ^ "The Scopes Trial - Clarence Darrow Myths". December 6, 1999. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  31. ^ "Darrow versus the Eugenicists". May 27, 2011. Archived from the original on August 5, 2013. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  32. ^
  33. ^ See Darrow, Clarence, “The Edwardses and the Jukeses.” American Mercury. Vol. 6, October 1925, 147-57.
  34. ^ See Darrow, Clarence, “The Edwardses and the Jukeses.” American Mercury. Vol. 6, October 1925, 147-57.
  35. ^ See Darrow, Clarence, “The Eugenics Cult.” American Mercury. Vol. 8, June 1926, 129-37.
  36. ^ Darrow, Clarence, “The Eugenics Cult.” American Mercury. Vol. 8, June 1926, 129-37.
  37. ^ See Darrow, Clarence, “The Eugenics Cult.” American Mercury. Vol. 8, June 1926, 129-37.
  38. ^ "Clarence Darrow Is Dead in Chicago". The New York Times. March 14, 1938. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  39. ^ James Edward Sayer, "Clarence Darrow: Public Advocate", Wright State Univ. (1978), p 2.
  40. ^ Kogan, Rick (March 4, 2016). "Clarence Darrow's Words, if Not His Ghost, Still Linger in Jackson Park". Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  41. ^ Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Inherit the Wind. Bantam, 1955.
  42. ^ "Sweet Trials Project". University of Detroit Mercy. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  43. ^ "Clarence Darrow (2014)".
  44. ^ "Clarence Darrow (2015)". Kevin Spacey returns to The Old Vic stage in Clarence Darrow for a limited run of 6 weeks only following his sell-out and critically acclaimed run of 22 performances in 2014.
  45. ^ "GE True: "Defendant: Clarence Darrow", January 13, 1963". Classic Television Archive. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  46. ^ "At Site of Scopes Trial, Darrow Statue Belatedly Joins Bryan's". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  47. ^ minor049 (February 9, 2017). "Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center".
  48. ^ "The Clarence Darrow Collection". April 19, 2012. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012.
  49. ^ Blum, Howard. "Extra! Extra! Unionist Bombs Wreck The 'Times'". NPR. Retrieved October 20, 2013.
  50. ^ Haldeman-Julius was an eye-witness to the trials. Excerpt regarding the Scopes Trial here, regarding the Sweet Trials here and here.
  51. ^ a b "Home | Central Michigan University". October 7, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2013.

External links

Alleged (film)

Alleged is a 2010 American historical romantic drama film starring Nathan West, Ashley Johnson, Colm Meaney, Fred Thompson and Brian Dennehy. The film dramatizes the Scopes Trial.

Butler Act

The Butler Act was a 1925 Tennessee law introduced by Tennessee House of Representatives member John Washington Butler prohibiting public school teachers from denying the Biblical account of mankind's origin. It was enacted as Tennessee Code Annotated Title 49 (Education) Section 1922, having been signed into law by Tennessee governor Austin Peay. The law also prevented the teaching of the evolution of man from what it referred to as lower orders of animals in place of the Biblical account.

The law was challenged later that year in a famous trial in Dayton, Tennessee called the Scopes Trial which included a raucous confrontation between prosecution attorney and fundamentalist religious leader, William Jennings Bryan, and noted defense attorney and religious agnostic, Clarence Darrow.

It was repealed in 1967.

Clarence Darrow (film)

Clarence Darrow is a 1974 American one-person stage and later TV movie directed by John Rich, written by David W. Rintels and produced by Don Gregory and Mike Merrick. Henry Fonda portrayed the celebrated defense lawyer Clarence Darrow.

Clarence Darrow Octagon House

The Clarence Darrow Octagon House is a historic octagon house in the community of Kinsman, Ohio, United States. Home to lawyer Clarence Darrow in his childhood, it has been named a historic site.

Born in the nearby community of Farmdale, Clarence Darrow was the son of a cabinetmaker. Together with his family, he moved to the octagon house in 1864 at the age of seven and lived in it until the family moved out of state circa 1873. Darrow became a nationally prominent lawyer in his adulthood, and he remembered the octagon house as his home during his most significant childhood years, at a time when his interest in the law was leading him into activities such as running mock trials with his friends. Darrow's final visit to the house occurred in 1936, two years before his death.Constructed circa 1854, the Darrow House is typical of octagon houses, a short-lived popular passion during the middle of the nineteenth century; its leading proponent, Orson Squire Fowler, advocated their construction as a means of providing superior housing for the poor, and the design allowed for the interior space to be used more efficiently. The Darrow House is primarily a wooden building; the walls are chestnut, with concrete used for chinking. There are seven rooms inside, and much of the original woodworking (for example, the cupboards) survives, as well as the original fireplaces and mantels. The first story of the house is surrounded by a prominent porch, which is absent from only one of the eight sides. Windows are centered in the sides on both stories, and a chimney protrudes from the center.In September 1971, the Clarence Darrow Octagon House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, just one week after the same distinction was awarded to Kinsman's Congregational-Presbyterian Church and Dr. Peter Allen House. It is one of seven Ohio octagon houses on the National Register; most were built circa 1860, although "the Octagon" in Tiffin dates from 1852. Unlike the other houses, which qualified for the Register because of their architecture, the Darrow House was deemed eligible solely because of its famous resident. A state historical marker was placed in front of the house in 2000.

Darrow Hooper

Clarence Darrow Hooper (January 30, 1932 – August 19, 2018) was an American athlete who competed mainly in the shot put.

Hooper was born in Fort Worth, Texas, where in 1949 he graduated from North Side High School. He went on to attend Texas A&M University and won the NCAA shot put title in 1951. By the time he graduated from college, he had a wife and two children. He competed for the United States in the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland in the shot put. Hooper's last throw was just two centimeters away from winning the gold medal: Parry O’Brien's shot put measured 17.41 (57' 1 1/2"), while Hooper's measured 17.39m (57' 3/4") Hooper won the silver medal.In the Olympic trials, Hooper had beaten O'Brien with an almost mirror image of the Olympics, 17.41m listed as (57' 1 3/8") while O'Brien shot putted 17.38 (57' 1/2"). It was O'Brien's last defeat before an unprecedented 116 straight victories over the next 3 years, 364 days. Both athletes left Jim Fuchs, the World Record holder at the time, relegated to third place with a 17.36m. That ended Fuchs' string of 88 consecutive victories that dated back to 1949. He was inducted into the Texas Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame, Class of 2016.

Donald McRae (author)

Donald McRae is a South African writer. McRae is noted as the only two-time winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award with Dark Trade: Lost in Boxing in 1996 and In Black and White: The Untold Story of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens in 2002. His other works include Every Second Counts: the Race to Transplant the First Human Heart (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2006) and The Great Trials of Clarence Darrow: The Landmark Cases of Leopold and Loeb, John T. Scopes, and Ossian Sweet, published in 2009.

Earl Rogers

Earl Rogers (November 18, 1869 – February 22, 1922) was an American trial lawyer and professor, who later became the inspiration for Perry Mason.

Inherit the Wind (1960 film)

Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the 1955 play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, directed by Stanley Kramer.

It stars Spencer Tracy as lawyer Henry Drummond and Fredric March as his friend and rival Matthew Harrison Brady, also featuring Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan, Donna Anderson, Claude Akins, Noah Beery, Jr., Florence Eldridge, and Jimmy Boyd.

The script was adapted by Nedrick Young (originally as Nathan E. Douglas) and Harold Jacob Smith.

Stanley Kramer was commended for bringing in writer Nedrick Young, as the latter was blacklisted.

Inherit the Wind is a parable that fictionalizes the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial as a means to discuss McCarthyism. Written in response to the chilling effect of the McCarthy era investigations on intellectual discourse, the film (like the play) is critical of creationism.

The film had its World Premiere at the Astoria Theatre in London's West End on July 7, 1960.A television remake of the film starring Melvyn Douglas and Ed Begley was broadcast in 1965. Another television remake starring Jason Robards and Kirk Douglas aired in 1988. It was once again remade for TV in 1999, co-starring Jack Lemmon as Drummond and George C. Scott as Brady.

Inherit the Wind (1965 film)

Inherit the Wind is the November 18, 1965 episode of the American television series Hallmark Hall of Fame. A videotaped adaptation of the 1955 play of the same name, it shortened the text of the original 1955 play which was written as a parable fictionalizing the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial as a means of discussing the 1950s McCarthy trials.

Inherit the Wind (1988 film)

Inherit the Wind is a 1988 American television film adaptation of the play of the same name. The original 1955 play was written as a parable which fictionalized the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial as a means of discussing the 1950s McCarthy trials. This version differed from the two previous films by attempting to make Brady more sympathetic and the storyline (according to its producers) "a bit more fair to both sides."

Inherit the Wind (1999 film)

Inherit the Wind is a 1999 American television film adaptation of the play of the same name which originally aired on Showtime. The original 1955 play was written as a parable which fictionalized the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial as a means of discussing the 1950s McCarthy trials.George C. Scott played Brady. In the 1996 Broadway revival he played Drummond.

Inherit the Wind (play)

Inherit the Wind is an American play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, which debuted in 1955. The story fictionalizes the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" Trial as a means to discuss the then-contemporary McCarthy trials. The debate over creationism versus evolution has contemporary resonance, as evidenced by the play's numerous revivals and screen adaptations decades after its initial theatrical run.

Laurence Luckinbill

Laurence George Luckinbill (born November 21, 1934) is an American actor, playwright and director. He has worked in television, film, and theatre, doing triple duty in the theatre by writing, directing, and starring in stage productions. He is probably best known for penning and starring in one-man shows based upon the lives of United States President Theodore Roosevelt, author Ernest Hemingway, and famous American defense attorney Clarence Darrow; starring in a one-man show based upon the life of US President Lyndon Baines Johnson; and for his portrayal of Spock's half-brother Sybok in the film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Monkey Town (novel)

Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial is a 2006 novel written by American author Ronald Kidd. The story is set in summer 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee, and is based on the Scopes Trial.

National Civil Liberties Bureau

The National Civil Liberties Bureau (NCLB) was an American civil rights organization founded in 1917, dedicated to opposing World War I, and specifically focusing on assisting conscientious objectors.

The National Civil Liberties Bureau was the reincarnation of the Civil Liberties Bureau (CLB), in conjunction with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, after its split on October 1, 1917, with its parent organization, the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM), which opposed American involvement in World War I.

Roger Nash Baldwin, who had called for a branch of the AUAM designed to protect the rights of conscientious objectors, became the CLB's head, and continued as director of the NCLB. The NCLB provided legal advice and aid for conscientious objectors and those being prosecuted under the Espionage Act of 1917 or Sedition Act of 1918.

The NCLB was subpoenaed by the New York legislature's Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Seditious Activities, popularly known as the Lusk Committee, which considered the organization's efforts and pacifist ties to be a vehicle for socialist and communist propaganda.Baldwin felt that the NCLB was ineffectual, and wanted to establish an organization that was more militant and active. Under Baldwin's leadership, NCLB members agreed to dissolve the NCLB and reorganize it under a new name and charter; thus the American Civil Liberties Union was created in 1920.Notable early leaders and founders of the NCLB include director Roger Nash Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Norman Thomas, Albert DeSilver, and Clarence Darrow.

Scopes Trial

The Scopes Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was an American legal case in July 1925 in which a substitute high school teacher, John T. Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant.Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1429 in 2018), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side. William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy, which set Modernists, who said evolution was not inconsistent with religion, against Fundamentalists, who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on whether "modern science" should be taught in schools.

The Angel of Darkness

The Angel of Darkness is a 1997 crime novel by Caleb Carr that was published by Random House (ISBN 0-7515-2275-9) and is a sequel to The Alienist (1994), and is the second book in the Kreizler series.

The Monkey Suit

"The Monkey Suit" is the twenty-first episode of the seventeenth season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 14, 2006. In the episode, Ned Flanders is shocked after seeing a new display at the museum about evolution. Together with Reverend Lovejoy, he spreads the religious belief of creationism in Springfield, and at a later town meeting, teaching evolution is made illegal. As a result, Lisa decides to hold secret classes for people interested in evolution. However, she is quickly arrested and a trial against her is initiated.

J. Stewart Burns wrote "The Monkey Suit", for which he received inspiration from the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. The episode features a few references to this legal case, as well as several references to popular culture. Many analysts have commented on the episode's treatment of the creation–evolution controversy, a dispute about the origin of humanity between those who support a creationist view based upon their religious beliefs, versus those who accept evolution, as supported by scientific evidence.

Critics have given the episode generally positive reviews, praising it for its satire of the creation–evolution debate. "The Monkey Suit" has won an award from the Independent Investigations Group (IIG) for being "one of those rare shows in the media that encourage science, critical thinking, and ridicule those shows that peddle pseudoscience and superstition." In 2007, a scene from the episode was highlighted in the scientific journal Nature.

University of Minnesota Libraries

The University of Minnesota Libraries is the library system of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, operating at 13 facilities in and around Minneapolis–Saint Paul. It has over 7 million volumes and 109,000 serial titles that are collected, maintained and made accessible. The system is the 17th largest academic library in North America and the 22nd largest library in the United States. While the system's primary mission is to serve faculty, staff and students, because the University is a public institution of higher education its libraries are also open to the public.

The Libraries hold a variety of notable specialized and unusual collections. Examples include the world's largest assembly of materials on Sherlock Holmes and his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; the Kerlan Collection of over 100,000 children's books; the Hess Collection, one of North America's largest collections of dime novels, story papers and pulp fiction; the James Ford Bell Library of rare maps, books and manuscripts, and the seventh largest law library in the United States, including over 1 million volumes and personal papers such as those of Clarence Darrow.The system is a Federal Depository Library, a State of Minnesota Depository Library and United Nations Depository Library. Among research institutions it maintains the second largest collection of government documents in North America.

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