DAYTON, Tenn., July 8, 1925 (UP) -- A constitutional amendment banishing the evolutionary theory from all American schools forever, is the distant goal of organized fundamentalists.
It seemed plainly understood that the proceedings in the Scopes trial, which will start in this little town Friday, are only the first faint rumblings of a major battle that ultimately may be fought by the entire American nation.
William Jennings Bryan, mainstay of the prosecution of Scopes, flung down the gauge of battle in an address to the Progressive Dayton Club at the Aqua Hotel last night. If the Tennessee anti-evolution law is held invalid in the lower courts, he said, it will be appealed through all stages to Washington. If the United States Supreme Court holds it unconstitutional it will be appealed to the American people.
"If the minority controls the courts, we can change the courts," said Bryan. "If the Constitution bars our way, we can change the Constitution."
He cited the enactment of the fifth amendment to nullify the Dred Scott decision when slavery was an issue and the passage of the 17th amendment after the Supreme Court had nullified income tax laws as evidence of the final power of the American people to challenge the basic law of the land.
"Courts don't settle questions, the American people settle them," Bryan declared with his old-time oratorical force.
The Commoner left no room for compromise on the issue.
"Either evolution or Christianity must go," he said.
Bryan was at his best at the banquet. His famed eloquence flamed once more. The banquet party was seated at two long tables in the a small room. Bryan sat at the middle of one side of a table with John T. Scopes, the defendant, and John R. Neal, his senior counsel, directly opposite him. The Commoner scarcely ate any dinner, so deep had he become involved in an argument on evolution with Scopes.
When speaking time came, Judge Walter L. Godsey, member of the defense counsel, welcomed Bryan. He said the people of Dayton had voted for him three times and would follow his banner again.
In a statement today in reply to Bryan's speech last night, Neal declared the great issue in the Scopes case is not whether evolution is or is not true, but whether the state of Tennessee has not transcended the limits of its own Constitution and that of the United States.
The defense today was discussing the possibility of challenging a number of the jury panel when the trial opens because several were present and applauded the Commoner. The defense also plainly manifested pleasure over the prospect of a long trial which they maintained Bryan clearly showed he favored.