Lookout Mountain, Monkey's Uncles And Lincoln

Trip Start Apr 30, 2012
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Trip End May 12, 2012


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Flag of United States  , Indiana
Friday, May 11, 2012

Hi, Everyone--

As we write, it's Friday night in Terre Haute, Indiana.  We're on the last leg of our ride home and have had great weather for the return trip.  We spent Thursday morning on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee, site of a Civil War battle in late November, 1863, little more than a week after Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address.  There are some fantastic homes along the winding road to the top, but once you're there, the views of the surrounding area are truly amazing.  This was the final stop on our Civil War agenda, having seen three important forts in the past week, including Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

After leaving Chattanooga, we headed straight for a small city more or less in the middle of Tennessee called Dayton.  It's out of the way and the Interstates have bypassed it, but we knew exactly what to see there.  Dayton is the site of one of the most widely talked about court cases of the 20th Century, the Scopes Monkey Trial, held in 1925.  John T. Scopes was a biology teacher in Dayton who taught Darwin's Theory of Evolution to his class, in violation of state law at that time.  He knowingly did so to test the validity of the law and wound up having two of the biggest names of the day get involved in the case: William Jennings Bryan to lead the prosecution and Clarence Darrow coming to his defense.  Bryan, a Democrat, had run for President three times, was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson and was thought of throughout his career as a champion of the Common Man.  He's also remembered for giving an address known as the "Cross of Gold" speech, decrying the Gold Standard, in Chicago during the 1896 Democratic National Convention.  (For more information on the speech, click here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_Gold_speech  )  Darrow was probably the most prominent defense attorney of his time, especially after defending Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, after they killed 14-year old Bobby Franks in Chicago in 1924. 

The Scopes case received international atttention and Dayton was bowled over with reporters and visitors when the trial began in July, 1925.  The courthouse where the trial was held is not only still standing, it's still in daily use as the Rhea County Courthouse.  It was built in 1891 and the courtroom where the trial was held has been restored to the way it looked when it all took place.  The heat was relentless in the summer of '25 and it got so bad that the judge moved the final portion of the proceedings outside on the courthouse lawn.  It was there that Bryan and Darrow hammered away at each other, after all the witnesses had testified and some had been disqualified.  In the end, Scopes was convicted and fined 100 dollars.  The case was overturned on appeal.  Five days after the trial, William Jennings Bryan died in a home in Dayton.  The law that started the whole thing has long been taken off the books.  There's a fine little museum in the courthouse basement, displaying some wonderful artifacts and pictures pertaining to the trial.  Dad got a kick out of telling a couple people there that he was around when the trial took place.  He was only three years old, but he was around indeed!  The trial became the basis for the play "Inherit The Wind" also a film by the same name starring Frederick March and Spencer Tracy.

There are two Chicago connections here.  One, of course, is Darrow, who lived and worked in Chicago and also argued very effectively for the five-day 40-hour work week in the Pullman District on the city's South Side.  The other connection is WGN Radio.  A five-person crew, including pioneering announcer Quinn Ryan was sent to Dayton to cover the trial.  The judge allowed four microphones to be set up around the courtroom and the proceedings were ultimately relayed to a nationwide radio network.  Believe me, this would have been an extraordinary undertaking in 1925!  Not only was radio present, in addition to the swarm of newspaper reporters and photographers, several newsreel movie crews filmed the trial.  Given all this, it was perhaps the first multi-media coverage of a major news story. 

Back in Indiana today, we took in the Abraham Lincoln Boyhood Home Site, just across the Indiana/Kentucky State Line.  Lincoln and his family moved here around 1816 and his Mother and Sister died here.  His Mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, was buried only a few hundred yards from their farm.  His Sister is buried a few miles away in a local church cemetary.  The site includes a working farm, much like the one Lincoln's Father, Thomas would have run, also an interesting pathway called the "Path of 12 Stones."  12 stones, each taken from a different building that held significance in Lincoln's life are placed along the walkway that winds through thick woods, little changed from the time young Abe and family lived there. 

So, we now head home.  I still need to write about Charleston and Savannah and will do so when we get back.  I'll also post everything, including lots of pictures on my TravelPod site.  We hope you've enjoyed reading these notes...which are getting long-winded, so we'll close out.  Take care and safe travels!

On The Road Again...The Drivers,

Dave And Paul Schwan

 

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