Somehow i ran across him in eighth grade, perhaps it was performing part of "inherit the wind" (a play based on his defense of teaching evolution against William Jennings Bryan in Tennessee - the Scopes/monkey trial) in eighth grade - he had so many good lines.
born april 18, 1857,
died march 17, 1938
And then i found a biography written by Irving F Stone, biographer of more than one famous gent, that extolled his principled stances for absolutely unpopular (un)americans in the early part of the twentieth century. I marvelled at Darrow's moving 11 hour closing arguments presented without notes. He was involved in so many important cases, and he made his cases important by tying the fate of one lonely persecuted outcast into the entire notion of America, and humanity and freedom - that we might challenge our fears and actually try to live the dreams of equality by realizing that we are all brothers and acting on that.
At the same time he was a dreamer on this scale, he had an excellent wit, and quite a lively mind. He could have made an enormous money being a corporation council for railroads, he defended instead the men that unionized workers and demonstrated violently for their rights.
Now there's more than one side to every fellow, and a few to every hero, but i am still proud to hang his bejowled picture on my wall and admire his work with this web page.
notable Darrow cases:
source material and quotes from
the introduction to Verdicts Out of Court, by Authur and Lila Weinberg.
|Authur Person - commie agitator||Darrow argued, to the jury: "If you want to get rid of every Socialist, of every Communist, of every trade unionist, of every agitator, there is one way to do it, and there is only one way to do it, and that is to cure the ills of society."|
|Leopold and Loeb - weirdo kid killers||
Two Chicago teens who killed 14 year old neighbor Bobby Franks for intellectual sport - Darrow worked to save them from the death penalty.|
life in prison
|Scopes / monkey trial - freedom to teach||
Defending a biology teacher's right to teach evolution in a public school bent on creationism. Argued against William Jennings Bryan, Tennessee. One of the most famous cases of the 20th century, tried when Darrow was already a celebrity. A media event where no one came out clean.|
dismissed on a technicality.
|1926 - Sweet case - mob racism||
"A white mob in Detroit attempted to drive a Negro family out of the home they had purchased in a white neighborhood. In the struggle, a white man was killed, and the eleven Negroes in the house were arrested and charged with murder."|
when brother Henry Sweet was brought to trial, 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 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..."
here's a few other useful Darrow sites:
He spent a fair amount of time bashing the Bible. I'm more attracted to myth, and perhaps invest more stock in spirit than he does, but I respect his abiding by his principles and holding forth against hypocrisy.
Perhaps appropriate for his day and age, and difficult to stomach with my Swarthmore training, he was an unabashed orientalist, supporting the Edward Fitzgerald version of the Rubaiyat.