Vox Clamantis in Deserto. Behind the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial

Robert S. Keebler, The Quiet Crusader Who Defended Academic Freedom & 24-Year-Old Public School Teacher John Scopes

By Robert A. Lanier

What sayest thou of thyself? He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” St. John 22-23. 

In early 1925, Representative George Washington Butler, 49, a farmer from Macon County, Tennessee, ascended Capitol Hill in Nashville to the neo-classical State Capitol. There, he would join his comrades in the Tennessee General Assembly (legislature to you) at its regular session. Washington had apparently been disturbed by an itinerant preacher’s sermon which mentioned a local young woman who had been corrupted by attending a university, where she had converted to the belief in Evolution. Now this Evolution business had been going around quite a bit lately, agitating those who were offended by its contradiction of the Biblical teaching that man (and presumably woman) was created instantaneously by God. William Jennings Bryan, the distinguished three-time Democratic candidate for President, and Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, was currently one of the most prominent defenders of the Biblical version. He wrote a syndicated newspaper column defending the literal truth of everything in the Bible and spoke to audiences on the subject. He had recently spoken in Nashville, and his speech was printed and later placed on the desk of each state legislator. 

Butler decided to introduce an act which stated in part: 

. . . it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals [i.e. teachers colleges] and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Devine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals…any teacher found guilty of the violation of this Act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than $100 [perhaps $1,500 in today’s money] nor more than $500 [$7,500 ?] for each offense. 

Butler’s colleagues in the Assembly were either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the startling fact that the official State Biology textbook, required to be taught in all high schools, included the following: 

We have now learned that animal forms may be arranged so as to begin with very simple one-celled forms and culminate with a group which contains man himself. This arrangement is called the evolutionary series. Evolution means change, and these groups are believed by scientists to represent stages of complexity of development of life on earth. Geology teaches that millions of years ago, life upon the earth was very simple, and that gradually more and more complex forms of life appeared . . .

State institutions which one would expect to be heard from were strangely silent about Butler’s bill. The University of Tennessee officials and faculty and the state Department of Education, apparently fearing the loss of expected appropriations, were silent. Leaders of the Tennessee Academy of Science were mum. Despite heckling from the galleries by Nashville’s Vanderbilt University students, the House of Representatives, no doubt conscious of Bryan’s recent Nashville speech (and the possible anger of the simple folks at home) voted overwhelmingly to enact Butler’s bill, 71 to 5. The Senate, with Bryan’s speech lying on their desks, approved it 24 to 7.ii Some of the legislators went on record explaining that their vote was based on their disbelief that man was descended from a monkey, a theory falsely ascribed to Evolution, but widespread, nevertheless. 

It was now up to Governor Austin Peay, generally regarded then and later as a progressive reformer of state institutions. Upon signing the bill on March 21, after noting that the state constitution mentioned God, he sent this astonishing message to the legislature: 

After a careful examination I can find nothing of consequence in the books now being taught in our schools with which this bill will interfere in the slightest manner. Therefore, it will not put our teachers in any jeopardy. Probably the law will never be applied. It may not be sufficiently definite to admit of any specific application or enforcement. Nobody believes that it is going to be an active statute.iii 

Active or not, the statute got national attention, especially from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and coincidentally, from some civic boosters in the sleepy little East Tennessee town of Dayton, in Rhea County. Dayton was moribund due to depression in its mining industry. George Rappelyea, a 31-year-old Yankee mining engineer there, noted that Chattanooga was talking about hosting a test trial of the new law. He thought it would be just the thing to put Dayton on the map if he could arrange to beat Chattanooga to the punch with a trial in Dayton first. In early May he conferred with the local druggist, school board superintendent Walter White, lawyer Sue K. Hicks (the “Boy Named Sue” in the song), local high school coach and Biology teacher John Scopes, 24, and others. He talked them into a collusive prosecution against Scopes and persuaded the local Circuit Judge to set up a special early term of court in July for the trial. Scopes opined logically that anybody who taught biology from the state textbook must have violated the law. 

When word of the prosecution got out, Bryan had publicly offered to appear for the prosecution and Hicks, as acting county attorney, invited him to do so. Lead counsel for the defense was the brilliant but unkempt John Randolph Neal, Ph.D, of Knoxville and Roane County. Neal (a cousin of my mother’s) had been the popular dean of the University of Tennessee Law School until 1923. When he defended a professor who opposed Fundamentalism, he and others were fired. Neal promptly formed his own law school, taking most of the law students with him. 

After some discussion over strategy and personalities, the ACLU agreed to join the defense of Scopes. Clarence Darrow, famous defender of apparently lost causes and himself an agnostic, offered his services to Neal and became the most prominent of defense counsel. 

The following June the Tennessee Bar Association, a voluntary organization of some 1600 white attorneys, gathered for its 44th annual meeting in Memphis at the rambling Memphis Country Club on the outskirts of town. Lawyers from across the state attended the conference, which usually dealt with a minimum of parochial technical matters and a maximum of golf and back slapping socializing.

Commercial Appeal reporter James P. Gibson, who covered the entire convention, noted that judicial elections were upcoming and waxed cynical when he described some of the more important activities: Oleaginous is easily the most felicitous word to describe this convention of lawyers. It was La Rouchefoucauld who said that all lawyers are divided into three classes—those who have been politicians, those who are politicians and those who hope to be politicians. All three classes are abundantly represented at the convention. Everybody is mighty glad to know everybody else. They look each other in the eye when they shake hands, then they slip off to the side and jot down the name, age, characteristic and voting precinct of their new acquaintance in the little campaign notebook. 

Prominent attorney Lovick P. Miles was the TBA’s 1925 president and presided at meetings. Darrow had made his way to Knoxville and was addressing Neal’s law school. At the suggestion of Neal, and apparently without Miles’s approval, the TBA secretary and others invited Darrow to speak to the convention. Miles hastily telegraphed Darrow, withdrawing the invitation, explaining that his presence might be “misconstrued,” and be a cause for “precipitating an acrimonious discussion.”iv The fat was in the fire, however, and a number of TBA delegates offered motions and resolutions on the now famous Scopes issue. On June 26, Governor Peay, who was at the Mayo Clinic for his health, wrote a scathing letter to Rhea County school board superintendent White, which he requested White to deliver to the Associated Press. In it he said that Tennessee had the right to say that the minds of her children shall not be destroyed by “teachers who poison their minds with stuff that no science has established, and which belongs in no reputable textbook.” He went on to write that: 

Tennessee needs no sympathy nor commiseration. Our state has taken a great and forward position which deserves and will certainly receive in time the admiration and appreciation of the Christian world. I have profound contempt for those who are throwing slurs at Tennessee for having this law. In my judgment any state had better dispense with its schools than with its Bibles. We are keeping both.v 

Young Memphis Attorney Robert S. Keebler prepared a lengthy essay on the questions presented by the Butler Act and approached bar president Miles about reading it to the conference, estimating that it would take a half hour to do so. Apparently the discussion between the two was not detailed, as Miles understood that Keebler had assured him that the paper would be confined to the legal question of constitutionality and not religion, which was a forbidden topic under the association’s by-laws.vi On June 26, attorney and state senator Giles Evans of Fayetteville offered a resolution deploring the Scopes trial as “an advertising and publicity scheme,” (which, of course, it largely was). This was tabled for the time being. A “splendid” luncheon was served the attorneys by the Country Club staff, while two ladies, Fay and Virginia Wagner, entertained with songs accompanied by their ukuleles. The balance of the day was consumed by a pedestrian speech by Dresden Congressman Finis Garret and routine business matters, followed by an evening banquet. 

Above, Robert S. Keebler, left and far right, with Clarence Darrow (submitted by author)

As the conference reconvened on June 27, Keebler was called upon to read his essay entitled, “The Tennessee Evolution Case.” He read rapidly, but at the end of the allotted 30 minutes, cries from the audience were so great that he was allowed another 15 minutes to finish. He attacked the Butler Act as unconstitutional under the state constitution, which required that the legislature “cherish science,” and the federal 14th Amendment, which protects speech and “freedom of the human intellect.” Keebler’s essay went into great detail, citing legal authorities, but also inevitably including attacks on the absurdity of Fundamentalism and an attempt to reverse “natural law.” He cited as examples Scriptural suggestion that the earth is flat and situated on an underlying sea.vii After the additional 15 minutes, Miles abruptly cut off Keebler’s talk in mid-sentence. The full text was furnished to the newspaper, however, and in an example of what we have lost by the death of newspapers, it was printed in full beside the news article the next day. 

Gibson, the reporter for The Commercial Appeal newspaper, had a field day with his complete but colorful description of events, which he sometimes referred to as “monkey business.” He reported the reaction to Keebler’s talk as follows: 

To describe accurately the drama—or the comedy, if one chooses—of the scene which the Keebler address created, is not within the power of words, printed or spoken. The eye and ear alone could grasp it. Bedlam was only mild confusion compared with it.viii 

Venerable “Col.” Thomas B. Edgington,ix a practicing lawyer in Memphis since the Civil War, offered a resolution midway in Keebler’s presentation, demanding repeal of the Evolution law. It was promptly ruled out of order. A dozen or so lawyers were on their feet, clamoring to hear more, but Miles was adamant. Prominent Memphis attorney H.D. Minor demanded to be permitted to reply to what he considered Keebler’s attack on the Tennessee General Assembly but was ruled out of order. At this point, near 1 o’clock, the stentorian voice of “Col.” T.K. Riddick, a stalwart supporter of boss E.H. Crump, inquired, “when do we eat?” The lawyers then filed into the dining room for an hour or so. The “older and cooler heads” of the association (Roan Waring, Sr., Elias Gates and Miles) then hurriedly consulted the by-laws and concluded that their prohibition on discussing religion provided a way to quash Keebler’s effort. They circulated among the diners, recruiting supporters. 

At 2 p.m., the meeting reconvened and routine business was dealt with to the restless audience. Before Minor could be heard in regard to Keebler, Col. Edgington was allowed to read his repeal resolution until Gates interrupted with his point of order that the whole thing was a forbidden religious discussion. Edgington began to reply, digressing into a defense of Governor Peay’s attitude to the act. Miles then himself digressed to defend his withdrawal of Darrow’s invitation to speak to the conference as based on the very point raised: a religious discussion which might cause disharmony. He added that he was very much chagrined and disappointed in Keebler’s paper, citing his belief that Keebler had assured him that the talk would not exceed 30 minutes and would be confined to the constitutionality question. Instead, in his view it ridiculed both Christian and Jewish orthodoxy and treated the legislature contemptuously. Miles then sustained the objection and ordered the speech expunged. An appeal from the ruling based on the desire of some lawyers to have the complete text was defeated 86-53, thus ending the discussion. Veteran Memphis lawyer R. Gratz Brown, with tongue in cheek no doubt, said that he was quitting the TBA because their action on the Butler Act effectively declared it unconstitutional: if indeed it was a religious question, the Constitution had no right to rule on it. He also criticized the treatment of Darrow’s invitation as a gratuitous and signal discourtesy to a great lawyer and said that freedom of speech and thought had been suppressed by the “steamroller of the Fundamentalist caucus.” The obvious amusement of reporter Gibson was apparently not shared by the editorial staff of the paper. An editorial in the next day’s issue, probably written by devout Catholic editor C.P.J. Mooney, was headlined, “We Cannot Get Along Without God.” Rappelyea was ridiculed as “a man whose name sounds like applejack,” who “sought contact with the highbrows of the north and east.” Darrow was described as “a mighty sob sister before a jury.” 

Although Keebler’s essay was officially expunged from the minutes of the TBA conference, the ACLU immediately arranged for the publication of it, and copies have been available ever since. 

In the aftermath of Keebler’s appearance at the TBA convention, national attention was focused on the Scopes trial, scheduled for July 10 at the brick courthouse in Dayton. Keebler, far from being an agnostic or atheist, was from a family of Methodists, had been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for 25 years and a Sunday school teacher at St. John’s Methodist Church in Memphis for some time. Now some of his close friends brought him word that his “modernist” views were becoming the subject of dissension and “a strong undertone of unfavorable comment against me” within the church, mainly by some women. He was not asked to resign, but voluntarily withdrew as a Sunday School teacher and cancelled his engagement to address the Fellow Workers Bible class of the First Methodist Church “for the sake of harmony.” He told the Memphis Civitan Club that he hadn’t realized that he had been “living on the side of a volcano or that I was a religious heretic.” He said that the purpose of his TBA talk was to emphasize the necessity of getting back to the fundamentals of the American government and Christian religion. If the fundamentals were emphasized, he said, the details would take care of themselves. He added, “If I am a heretic, I want the leaders of my church to say so.”x 

Following up on this idea, as he packed to join the Scopes Defense team in Dayton, he wrote a letter to the Methodist Presiding Bishop of the Memphis Conference, with copies to the Presiding Elder and the pastor of St. John’s Church. He asserted that his position that the Genesis story of creation, if literally interpreted, is not accredited by science, and that the theory of Evolution is. As some of his fellow Methodists had let him know that the theory of Evolution was “un-Christian” and he a heretic, he demanded to be told: was a belief in Evolution compatible with Methodism? Must an “orthodox” Methodist believe in the literal inerrancy of the entire Bible? What must a Methodist believe to be orthodox? No record of a reply has been found. 

“PUBLICITY.” “Bryan-Darrow Battle Over Issues in Trial of Scopes.” The Commercial Appeal, July 19, 1925

As is well known, the famous Scopes trial began in Dayton on July 10, with William Jennings Bryan dominating the prosecution presentation, along with Sue K. Hicks, District Attorney General A.T. Stewart and Bryan’s son. The defense was dominated by the great Clarence Darrow, assisted by Arthur Garfield Hays and Dudley Field Malone, who were furnished gratis by the ACLU. It was not a real trial in the way that most of us are familiar with. There was no dispute that Scopes had taught Evolution from the state textbook (although Scopes later had some doubt about it), and Darrow agreed that the jury could be instructed that Scopes was guilty, so the jury had nothing really to decide. The highlight of the trial, of course, was furnished by Darrow’s cross examination of Bryan on the validity of Biblical Fundamentalism. Reporters and a radio audience (for the first time in history) were treated to the unique spectacle of the chief defense counsel (Bryan) volunteering to become a witness! In an anticlimax, Scopes was fined $100 by the judge. The Tennessee Bar Association, possibly oblivious to the irony, designated Keebler to thank the out-of-state lawyers on both sides! Much has been written about the case, but I suggest that the reader will find no better accounts than in the books, The Great Monkey Trial, by L. Sprague De Camp (1968), Six Days or Forever? By Ray Ginger (1957), and Center of the Storm, by John T. Scopes and James Presley (1967). 

The case was appealed by the defense to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Keebler, now welcomed by the ACLU as one of defense counsel, with Arthur Garfield Hays largely wrote the appellate brief. As a Tennessee lawyer, he was preferred over the somewhat eccentric and academic Neal. He took a prominent part in the May, 1926 oral arguments before the Court, defending the ACLU and stating that the Butler Act “did not serve the broad secular purpose of protecting American values, but merely promoted that peculiar dogmatism of the Christian Church known as fundamentalism.”xi In a decision noteworthy for its fatuity, the court held that the constitutional demand to cherish Science was too vague to be enforced, and that evolution could be taught so long as it didn’t get into that creation of man stuff. However, since only the jury, and not the judge, could fine over $50, there was reversible error. On the other hand, since Scopes didn’t work for the school anymore, the District Attorney General was pressured to dismiss “this bizarre case.” He did so.xii The Butler Act seems to have been largely ignored for the next 40 years, which is not to say what was actually taught on Tennessee schools. That is unknown to this author, who speculates that teachers tailored their instruction to their consciences and their perception of the likely response from their students. In any event, the law remained in the Tennessee law books until, in 1967, it was quietly repealed.xiii Like Banquo’s ghost, however, the spirit of the law reappeared. In 2012, Tennessee legislators, largely the successors of the old Southern Democrats and Dixiecrats, newly self-christened as Republicans, enacted a law requiring teachers to permit criticism of the theory of Evolution, no matter how accepted it may be by scientists. Apparently inspired by supporters of “creationism” (i.e. a theory of an intelligent Creator or “intelligent design”), the sponsors were doubtless aware of the Scopes case and the ridicule it brought on the state. In an attempt to avoid this, they insured that the statute expressly “shall not be construed to promote any religious or non-religious doctrine.” Unlike 1925, however, the legislation met with attacks not only by the local ACLU, but several Tennessee members of the National Academy of Sciences, faculty at Vanderbilt University, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other Science education organizations. The Tennessee Education Association of teachers opposes the law because it considers it an unnecessary interference with teaching. More sophisticated than Governor Peay, Governor Bill Haslam allowed the bill to become law without either his approval or veto, allegedly due to its lack of “clarity.” It was Haslam who earlier had cleverly vetoed a bill naming the Bible as the state book on the diplomatic ground that it would degrade the Holy Book.xiv As this is written, there are no known court challenges to the 2012 law. 

24-year-old school teacher John T. Scopes, second from right, seated, along with his legal team, c. 1925 (photo submitted by author)

Keebler continued his civil liberties activism. In September of 1925, while the Scopes case was on appeal, Keebler was the president of the Memphis Legal Aid Society, an apparent successor to the earlier Howard Association. The Society, with a tiny office in room 7 of the Shelby County courthouse, had been in existence for over a year, and had aided about 250 clients. Its primary purpose was to render legal aid to indigent and “worthy” persons unable to employ a lawyer of their own. In the days before the federally funded poverty law offices opened in the 1970s, the Aid Society was all that was available, other than volunteer attorneys. Funded by the “Community Fund,” an annual charity drive for worthy causes, it employed only one attorney, Fletcher G. Cohn, although it boasted a board of directors of some of the most prominent lawyers in Memphis.xv In May of 1932, John R. Neal arranged a conference in Knoxville of about 100 like-minded liberals to hear Arthur Garfield Hays and others urge formation of an ACLU chapter in Kentucky where a violent labor dispute had broken out between coal miners and the mine owners over a reduction of pay. Concerned because of communist involvement in the dispute, Neal assured that several of the speakers were “southern people and not New Yorkers who had come down to butt in.” Unsurprisingly, Keebler was in attendance, on his way to visit his mother in Bristol. “We are not all snake doctors from New York,” he said.xvi 

In 1932 Malcolm Patterson of Memphis, who had been governor some 30 years earlier, ran again for the office against the now-entrenched E.H. Crump Shelby County political machine’s candidate. Keebler attacked Crump, then a congressman, at a small Patterson rally at a private home. He joined Patterson in condemning the Crump machine’s practice of paying the poll taxes of “33,000 negroes” and “herding” them to the polls, while smashing the cameras of those who tried to photograph the event and interfering with ballot counts. Although Crump denied knowledge of such behavior, he took credit for the growth and physical improvements of Memphis. Keebler charged him with lack of humility, corrupt elections and holding the entire city and county government “under his thumb.” Patterson lost. 

Perhaps discouraged about the future of Memphis under Crump’s “thumb,” Keebler welcomed the coming of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933 and moved to Washington, D.C., in 1935. He soon obtained appointment as an attorney for the Federal Power Commission. In that capacity he handled many of the more important power cases, often crossing swords with private power interests in hearings and wrote many briefs in litigation with them. His record was so outstanding that the commissioners were said to favor him for appointment as their chief counsel in 1938. However, politics intervened and a 29-year-old from St. Louis gained the patronage of Roosevelt’s favorite, Thomas Corcoran, and the 49-year-old Keebler was appointed principal attorney in the Utilities Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission as a consolation. He remained in that position until his retirement.xvii 

Who was Robert Samuel Keebler? He was born in the upper fringe of East Tennessee in the town of Bristol in 1889 to a locally prominent family, steeped in the traditions of the Methodist Church South. His father, A. C. Keebler, was the Bristol city attorney and was a very popular Methodist layman who taught Sunday school and a Bible class for women. A hall in the church was named for him and his wife.xviii Young Robert seemed destined for a successful career. He graduated from Washington and Lee University with high honors in 1909 and turned down scholarships to Harvard and Yale because he wanted to teach. He accepted the chair of History at the newly opened Palmer College, a small co-ed Christian school in west Florida, not to be confused with later chiropractic schools with a similar name. Keebler was to teach Latin and Greek as well as History.xix Apparently, he changed his mind and decided to attend Harvard. By 1912, as temporary secretary of Bristol’s Wilson Club, he was actively supporting Woodrow Wilson for president. He was a speaker and delegated by the club to notify Wilson of their support and invitation to speak.xx In 1917, he was with the Memphis Union & Planters Bank Trust Department and was referred to as “a student of constitutional reform” by an Arkansas newspaper as he addressed the Helena Rotary Club xxi. During the First World War he was in the Army, although there is some question whether he went overseas. He returned to Memphis, but in August of 1919, with $300 in the bank, he became interested in the great Burkburnett oil boom in north Texas. He became aware of the Seven States Oil Company of Memphis, which purported to own three producing wells at Burkburnett, as well as drilling sites elsewhere, and a 23-acre industrial site in Memphis for a proposed refinery. Leery of the reputation that over 99% of oil men were crooks, he investigated and invested $100 in the venture, even advising his father and a Memphis friend to do so and moved to Fort Worth. Moreover, he became “Sales Agent” for Three States, soliciting sales of shares at $15 each, through a postal address in Bristol! What became of this venture was not found.xxii

What we do know is that Keebler returned to Memphis in 1920, taking an office, but not yet practicing law. In 1920 he was a director of the newly revived local Howard Association, which hoped to monitor prison conditions, take an interest in prisoners and even sometimes investigate their cases.xxiii The next year he shared offices in the Goodwyn Institute Building with Charles N. Fox, 44. Like Keebler, Fox was a unique personality. A former claims adjuster and night school law graduate, he lived the rest of his life at the Memphis YMCA and became the dean of Memphis real estate title lawyers. His only recreations were golf and his collection of classical music records.xxiv In 1923 Fox went with a local title company and Keebler set up law offices in the new Union & Planters Bank Building, moving from an apartment to a residence on Carr. In 1927, Keebler married the lovely Josie Elise Paxton, niece of prominent attorney Guston Fitzhugh, an implacable enemy of Crump.xxv Apparently, they moved to Washington, D.C. in 1935, when Robert was employed by the federal government, and remained there, living in the suburb of Chevy Chase until Elise died in 1965 and he retired. In 1969 he made a sentimental visit to Memphis to visit relatives and old friends. Members of his Sunday school class at the Methodist Church, now prominent professionals, treated him to a luncheon at the University Club.xxvi 

As might be expected, an activist like Keebler was well read. In 1972, at age 82, with the help of his daughter, he wrote a lengthy 256-page screed entitled, A Political Testament—Guidelines to National Greatness, containing a somewhat repetitive discussion of national and international affairs. Written on the eve of the Watergate scandal, he had it privately printed in 1974 and copies given to friends. It revealed him as what would no doubt be derisively termed by some, with considerable justification, a “bleeding heart liberal.” He had thrown himself wholeheartedly into the New Deal in his work. He now expressed much sympathy for the Soviet Union and saw no reason to continue the Cold War and threat of nuclear war. He recounted an event he learned of during his Memphis days, when the Soviets purchased cotton in Memphis for gold and then were cheated when inferior cotton was shipped under false labels. He was an opponent of the “heresy hunt” of postwar anti-Communism and reminded that in the South, “interest in the welfare of the colored race and civil liberties” branded one as a Red. Because of this, he felt that the communists got credit for many good things that they did not deserve. He seemed to think that a little Christian kindness would solve the world’s problems. Surprisingly, there is only one reference to the Scopes case in his book, and that is to term it and the Alger Hiss espionage trial “perhaps the two most famous cases of our judicial annals” in the 20th Century. Keebler expressed great sympathy for Hiss and disapproval of his trials, and remembered that many young men in the 1930s “were thinking radical thoughts and…I was one of them.”xxvii Remembering the ridicule which the Scopes trial brought upon William Jennings Bryan, one is struck by the universally favorable references to Bryan in the book, due to Bryan’s pacifism. 

Keebler died on September 3, 1976, in Washington, a not so quiet crusader to the end.xxviii

Robert A. Lanier was born in Memphis in 1938, and has spent most of his life in the city as an attorney, with stints serving as a Circuit Court judge from 1982 until his retirement in 2004. Lanier also served as an Adjunct Professor at the Memphis State University School of Law (U of M) in 1981. He was a member of the Tennessee Historical Commission from 1977 to 1982, and was a founder of Memphis Heritage Inc., the historical preservation group still active today. He is the author of several books about Memphis history, including In the Courts (1969), Memphis in the Twenties (1979), and The History of the Memphis & Shelby County Bar (1981), and his most recent, Memphis in the Jazz Age (2021). Lanier also donated hundreds of his personal historic Memphis photographs to the Memphis Room of the Memphis Public Library – part of Lanier’s personal interest with Memphis history and historic preservation – and they can be viewed on the library’s digital archive and collection (DIG Memphis) under the Robert Lanier Collection

Sprague de Camp, The Great Monkey Trial, (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1968), pp.11, 12. 

ii Ray Ginger, Six Days or Forever, ( Boston: Beacon Hill Press, 1957) pp. 5, 6. 

iii Ibid., p. 7.

iv De Camp; op.cit., pp. 110,111. 

v The Commercial Appeal, June 27, 1925, p.1. 

vi The Commercial Appeal, (Memphis), June 28, 1925, p. 3. 

vii Robert S. Keebler, The Tennessee Evolution Case, (Privately printed, 1925), p. 5. 

viii The Commercial Appeal, June 28, 1925, p. 1. 

ix Gibson noted with amusement the lax practice by the lawyers of addressing some of their colleagues as “Colonel” and “General.” 

x The Commercial Appeal, July 4, 1925, p.8. 

xi Edward J. Larson, Summer for the Gods (New York: Basic Books, 1997), p.217. 

xii De Camp, op.cit., pp. 469-471. 

xiii The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2012, p.2. 

xiv Ibid. 

xv The Commercial Appeal, September 10, 1925, p.11. 

xvi The Knoxville Journal, May 15, 1932, p. 6. 

xvii The Commercial Appeal, November 16, 1938, p.14. 

xviii The Bristol [Tennessee] News Bulletin, March 24, 1936, p.9. 

xix The Bristol [Tennessee]Evening News, May 25, 1909, p.3. 

xx The Bristol [Tennessee] Herald Courier, July 3, 1912, p.8. 

xxi The Arkansas Democrat, March 22, 1917, p. 1. 

xxii The Bristol [Tennessee] Herald Courier, December 24, 1919, p.8. 

xxiii The News-Scimitar [Memphis], October 27, 1920, p.13. 

xxiv Bar Memorial Book, Memphis & Shelby County Bar Association, “Charles Nichol Fox.” 

xxv Polk’s City Directory of Memphis, 1927, “Robert S. Keebler”; The Commercial Appeal, July 31, 1934,p. 7; October 14, 1938, p. 12Robert A. Lanier, The History of the Memphis & Shelby County Bar, (Memphis: Memphis & S.C. Bar Association, 1981, p.57

xxvi The Press-Scimitar [Memphis}, July 29, 1969, p.9. Included were Doctors Henry and Nick Gotten and Ed Erwin. 

xxvii Robert S. Keebler, A Political Testament (New York: Vantage Press, 1974), p.105. 

xxviii The Bristol [Tennessee] Herald Courier, September 5, 1976, p. 2.  

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