John Thomas Scopes (August 3, 1900 – October 21, 1970), a teacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was charged on May 5, 1925 with violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee schools. He was tried in a case known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.
Scopes was born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky before moving to Illinois as a teenager. He was a member of the class of 1919 in Salem, Illinois, which is also William Jennings Bryan's home town. After he had earned a law degree at the University of Kentucky in 1924, Scopes moved to Dayton where he took a job as the Rhea County High School's football coach, and occasionally filled in as substitute teacher when regular members of staff were off work.
Scopes' involvement in the so-called Monkey Trial came about after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that it would finance a test case challenging the constitutionality of the Butler Act if they could find a Tennessee teacher willing to act as a defendant.