July 21 in history:
The first U.S. train robbery west of the Mississippi happened on July 21st, 1873, near Adair, Iowa. The James-Younger Gang got away with about three thousand dollars from a safe and from the train’s passengers.
Tennessee schoolteacher John T. Scopes didn’t get away with violating state law by teaching evolution in class. On July 21st, 1925, a jury in Dayton, Tennessee convicted Scopes at the “monkey trial” which featured defense attorney Clarence Darrow and prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan debating evolution and the Bible. The trial was later dramatized in the play “Inherit the Wind.”
Spencer Tracy played the fictional version of Darrow in the original 1960 movie of “Inherit the Wind,” two years after starring in the film “The Old Man and the Sea,” based on an Ernest Hemingway novel. Hemingway was born on this date in 1899.
March 13th in history:
Attorney Clarence Darrow, the defense lawyer at the Scopes “Monkey” trial, died on this date in 1938. It was exactly 13 years after the day the Tennessee House voted to ban the teaching of evolution in state schools. Passage of that law led to the Scopes trial.
A major scientific discovery on March 13th, 1781: Astronomer William Herschel announced that he had found the planet Uranus. It was the first planet in the solar system to be discovered by telescope.
And on this date in 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh announced to the Harvard College Observatory that he had discovered a ninth planet, which would be named Pluto. In 2006, Pluto was downgraded to the status of “dwarf planet.”