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William Jennings Bryan

Later Years and the Scopes Trial

In the 1920 Democratic convention at San Francisco he fought in vain for a prohibition plank, and in 1924 at New York City he supported William G. McAdoo against Alfred E. Smith, but he was no longer the party's leader. In his later years Bryan, a Presbyterian, devoted himself to the defense of fundamentalism. He addressed legislatures urging measures against teaching evolution and appeared for the prosecution in the famous Scopes trial in Tennessee. Although he won the case in the trial court, Bryan's beliefs were subjected to severe ridicule in a searching examination by opposing counsel, Clarence Darrow. Five days after the trial, Bryan died in his sleep.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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