No More Monkey Business

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August 1, 1925 cover by Garrett Price.

For all of The New Yorker’s attention to the Scopes Monkey Trial, the August 1, 1925 issue had little to say about the trial’s outcome.

The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes was decided in the Criminal Court of Tennessee on July 21, 1925, with Scopes found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1,345 in 2015), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality.

“The Talk of the Town” offered this brief observation under its weekly wrap-up column: “Mr. Scopes, found guilty, goes home to Paducah, Kentucky…”

And then this item toward the end of “Talk,” announcing the death of the Scopes Trial defense attorney (and one of the magazine’s favorite punching bags) William Jennings Bryan:

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“The Graphic Section” offered this cynical twist on the trial’s outcome:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

In a related item under “Of All Things,” Howard Brubaker wrote, “Representative Upshaw of Georgia will introduce an anti-evolution bill in Congress. Upshaw is never happy unless the Ship of State is making twenty thou-shalt-nots an hour.”

Clarence Darrow, a famous Chicago lawyer, and William Jennings Bryan, defender of Fundamentalism, have a friendly chat in a courtroom during the Scopes evolution trial.  Darrow defended John T. Scopes, a biology teacher, who decided to test the new Tenessee law banning the teaching of evolution. Bryan took the stand for the prosecution as a bible expert. The trial in 1925 ended in conviction of Scopes. ca. 1925 Dayton, Tennessee, USA
Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan have a friendly chat during the Scopes Monkey Trial. Following the trial Bryan traveled hundreds of miles, delivering speeches in multiple towns. On July 26, 1925, he returned from Chattanooga, Tennessee to his home in Dayton. After attending church services he ate a large meal, then died during a nap that afternoon, five days after the trial’s conclusion. When someone remarked to Darrow that Bryan died from a “broken heart”, Darrow responded, “Broken heart, hell, he died of a busted belly!” (Wikipedia)

Brubaker also quipped, “Tennessee is not the only State where there is arrested mental development, but it is the only one so far where it has been fined.”

Back to “The Talk of the Town,” the design for a memorial to Teddy Roosevelt was approved, to be erected as part of the east façade of the Museum of Natural History. It was noted that the design featured Ionic columns that Roosevelt “would have detested in favor of a “native expression of the arts…”

USA-NYC-American_Museum_of_Natural_History
The Museum of Natural History façade designed by John Russell Pope. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Talk” continued: “One recalls that Colonel Roosevelt wrote the American Institute of Architects deprecating the use of the lions which doze at the entrance to the Public Library, and advocating the placing there of bisons instead…The memorial to the man who insisted thus on American art, rather than imitation of foreign models, is to be a severely classic as the facade of –let us say—the First National Bank of Dubuque, Iowa.”

New_York_Public_Library_060622
Lion guards New York Public Library entrance. Teddy would have preferred the native bison. (Wikimedia Commons)

“Profiles” featured Walter L. Clark, a “genius who made art into business.” The movie reviews included Theodore Shane’s fumings on prudishness of American censors (Will Hays in particular) especially when compared to more liberal European productions by directors such as Ernst Lubitsch:

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In books, the magazine continued its admiration for the jottings of A.A. Milne:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

As for night life, The New Yorker lamented (“When Nights Are Bold) that the rooftop garden at the Biltmore “was the only bower worthy of the name left in town where quiet or startling simplicity reigns”:

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BiltmoreCascades
The Biltmore Cascades (Museum of the City of New York)
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Illustration of the Cascades by Helen Hokinson (New Yorker Digital Archive)

And speaking of society pursuits, Philip Pratt offered this parody on falconry, while Hans Stengel took aim at the starving artists:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

And we end with a detail of summertime images (by Helen Hokinson) from the center spread of the August 1 issue:

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(New Yorker Digital Archive)

Next time: The dog days of summer.

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Published by

David O

I read and write about history from the perspective that history is not some artifact from the past but a living, breathing condition we inhabit every moment of our lives, or as William Faulkner once observed, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." I read original source materials, such as every issue of The New Yorker, not only as a way to understand a time from a particular perspective, but to also use the source as an aggregator of various historic events. I welcome comments, criticisms, corrections and insights as I stumble along through the century.

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