It has been the subject of movies, plays, books and a great deal of discussion. The so-called "Monkey Trial" began on this date in a small Dayton, Tenn., courtroom in 1925 in which John Scopes, a young teacher, was accused of teaching evolution, a state law violation. The widely ballyhooed trial, actually a test case to try to change the law, attracted two of the nation's foremost lawyers for a classic confrontation. William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and fundamentalist hero, aided the state and legendary defender Clarence Darrow sided with the ACLU in the defense. A circus atmosphere prevailed and crowds got so huge the judge moved the trial outside on the lawn. Darrow thoroughly humiliated Bryan when he called him as the lone defense witness but Scopes was found guilty and fined $100. Though he won, Bryan was a beaten man and five days after the trial ended, on July 26, he lay down for a Sunday nap and never woke up.
Boris Yeltsin was inaugurated on this date in 1991 as the first popularly elected president of the Russian republic -- a first in Russia's 1,000-year history. He had soundly defeated the Communist Party candidate. The death knell for Communism had begun. Later that year, the Soviet Union ceased to be.
Also on this date in 1991, President Bush lifted U.S. trade and investment sanctions against South Africa. The sanctions had been put in place by Congress in 1986 to punish Johannesburg for its policy of racial separation known as apartheid. However, by this time, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela had been released from prison and South Africa was taking steps to do away with apartheid.
Telstar was the first privately owned telecommunications satellite (AT&T) and, on this date in 1962, it began relaying TV pictures across the Atlantic Ocean between the United States and Europe.
Courtroom historical notes:
An Alaskan appeals court overturned the conviction of former Exxon Valdez Capt. Joseph Hazelwood on this date in 1992, clearing him of criminal responsibility in connection with the 1989 massive oil spill in Prince William Sound. It had been the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Also in 1992, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was sentenced to 40 years in prison for cocaine racketeering. The United States had invaded Panama in Dec. 1989 to capture Noriega and bring him to Miami, where he was put on trial.
And the defense in the O.J. Simpson murder trial opened its case on this date in 1995. You know how that turned out.
Remember the new Coke? It was on this date in 1985 that Coca-Cola -- besieged by consumers dissatisfied with the new Coke introduced just three months earlier -- dusted off the old formula and dubbed it "Coke Classic." Can you even find Coke II on store shelves these days?
And in 1999, the U.S. team won the Women's World Cup in soccer, defeating China in the final on penalty kicks.
We now return you to the present, already in progress.