Religion & Celebrity: The Search for Meaning in the 1920s – The Imaginative Conservative

By the early decades of the twentieth century, at the very moment when physicists were dismantling formerly irrefutable truths about nature and the universe, science had become the foundation of the American faith in stability, order, and progress. Darwinian science had confirmed that the advent of the United States marked the apex of human evolution.

Religion lay at the heart of the political and cultural disputes of the 1920s. The efforts to impose prohibition and to restrict immigration arose from, and were in the minds of many Americans connected to the defense of, traditional Protestant morality. The most symbolic event in which politics, culture, and religion became entangled was the trial of John Thomas Scopes, which took place in 1925. A Tennessee state law, the Butler Act, had made it illegal “to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”[i] Scopes, who taught science (and coached football) at Rhea County High School, purposely violated the law to test its constitutionality. He was indicted and put on trial for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution.[ii]
Concerns about the apparent decline in public and private morality after the First World War, combined with a widespread yearning for the perceived simplicity of life during the pre-war years, induced many Americans to reexamine and rekindle their faith. Based on a literal reading of scripture, the emergence of religious fundamentalism was among the most important consequences of this development. Those who endorsed scriptural literalism and biblical inerrancy derived their name–Fundamentalists–from a series of twelve pamphlets titled The Fundamentals. Composed between 1910 and 1915, with the cost of publication underwritten by Lyman and Milton Steward, founders of the Union Oil Company, the pamphlets repeated the message that biblical literalism and Christian orthodoxy–that “old-time religion”–were the antidotes to all the ills the beset the modern world. With the erosion of Victorian morality during the 1920s, The Fundamentals reached a growing audience who gave them a zealous reception.
For millions of Americans scripture had long explained the origins, nature, and destiny of mankind. God’s creation of the heavens and the earth was, in their view, a real event that had taken place in historical time, an interval of six days. Darwin’s theories of evolution and natural selection contradicted Genesis, thereby endangering the conviction that humanity, fashioned in the image of God, was the grand product of a special creation. Darwin’s conclusions not only challenged the foundations of Christianity. They also shattered the prevailing conception of reality.[iii]
By the 1920s, fundamentalists were eager to translate their convictions into political activism and thereby to rescue the nation from its transgression. In the years before the Scopes trial, the Reverends William Bell Riley of the First Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Charles F. Washburn, leader of the Bible Crusaders of America, Gerald B. Winrod, head to the Defenders of the Christian Faith, and J. Frank Norris, a Baptist minister from Fort Worth, Texas, helped to bring the issue to national prominence. Their political allies introduced myriad anti-evolution bills into state legislatures throughout the Midwest and the South. The Oklahoma legislature enacted the first law to prohibit the teaching of evolution in public schools. With little fanfare, Governor John C. Walton, a progressive Democrat, signed it on March 24, 1923. The law offered free textbooks to public schools whose teachers agreed not mention evolution.
Although the Oklahoma law was repealed in 1924, during that same year the North Carolina Board of Education banned public schools from using biology textbooks that posited any theory of human origins diverging from the biblical account. Meanwhile, officials in other states decreed an end to the teaching of evolution without awaiting legislative sanction. Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson of Texas, for instance, ordered the immediate removal from the state school system of all textbooks that espoused, or even mentioned, Darwin’s theories. “I’m a Christian mother who believes Jesus Christ died to save humanity,” she exclaimed, “and I am not going to let that kind of rot go into Texas school books.”[iv] These protests, and the legislation resulting from them, persuaded countless Americans that modern science was incompatible with traditional Christianity and destructive of moral and social order.
At the same time, thinkers such as the prominent sociologist William Graham Sumner had long applied Darwin’s ideas to society. In so doing, Sumner identified survival of the fittest, the law of the jungle, as the agent of progress. In the unavoidable struggle of existence, Sumner and other advocates of “Social Darwinism” asserted that the fittest would and should prevail. The weak, the infirm, and the useless would falter and eventually die out. Society would be more robust, vigorous, and wholesome as a result. Science thus proved that rugged individualism would revive and sustain American national life. Since no one could escape the struggle for survival, which was inscribed in the very structure of nature, those who triumphed were, by definition, best suited to further human progress. “Vice is its own curse,” Sumner insisted. “If we let nature alone, she cures vices by the most frightful penalties. A drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be. Nature is working away at him to get him out of the way, just as she sets up her processes of dissolution to remove whatever is a failure in its line.”[v]
The Puritans believed that outward success revealed inward grace. According to the Social Darwinists, worldly accomplishment indicated the racial and moral superiority of a given individual or people. If those who had endured the competitive struggle could no longer feel assured that they were among the elect–among those whom God had chosen for salvation–they could still enjoy every confidence that nature had marked them as exceptional. They were the unmistakable products of natural selection and they would inevitably succeed. Denying the existence of original sin, Sumner maintained that there was nothing inherent in human nature that predisposed men and women to fail. Intelligence, enterprise, ambition, diligence, and virtue, which in theory were accessible to everyone, determined whether an individual would rise or fall. Everyone should be sober, industrious, self-reliant, prudent, and wise. Those who were not would invariably die out. Their deaths would cleanse and strengthen the genetic composition of the human race, and thereby advance human progress.
Individualism was for Sumner not as much a moral imperative as it was a scientific principle and a natural law. Nature established and imposed the absolute standards that measured the human character and governed human activity. Those who defied nature suffered the consequences, for the laws of nature both regulated conduct and punished disobedience. They were the basis of all that happened on earth and in heaven. They controlled the universe. The purpose of rational thought was the discovery of those laws. Science exposed the structure and operation of nature, facilitating the necessary compliance with its dictates. The process by which human beings investigated these standards and laws, science became the arbiter of reality. Any idea or belief that contradicted scientific discoveries was, by definition, misguided and false.
It was this view of science that Clarence Darrow, the celebrated attorney who defended Scopes, entertained.[vi] Although hardly a proponent of Social Darwinism, Darrow was far from the modern progressive that he is commonly portrayed to be. Darrow instead expressed a confidence in the unconditional and unerring validity of science, espousing a scientific fundamentalism that was more characteristic of the nineteenth than of the twentieth century, and which was, in fact, already obsolete by 1925. Darrow’s adversary, William Jennings Bryan, a former United States senator, Woodrow Wilson’s first secretary of state, an erstwhile candidate for the presidency, and the populist champion of the common man, had come to rest his defense of Christianity on the opposition to Darwinian science. Bryan had initiated efforts to prevent the teaching of evolution in public schools as early as 1921. “The whole modernistic propaganda rests on evolution,” he wrote to Josephus Daniels shortly before the Scopes trial began. “They first reject the miracle and then everything in the Bible that is miraculous or supernatural. . . . What the world needs is the supernatural Christ of whom the Bible tells, not a mere reformer without authority.”[vii] Not surprisingly given the sentiments he had expressed in his letter to Daniels, Bryan exhibited at the trial the outlook of a seventeenth-century religious fanatic who pretended that science was irrelevant.
When Judge John Raulston prevented Darrow from calling scientific experts to testify, he changed his tactics. He sought to discredit the religious assault on science by questioning Bryan himself as an avowed expert on the Bible. Adopting a literal interpretation of scripture, and displaying an ignorance both of history and biblical scholarship, Bryan made a fool of himself. He denied the efficacy, even the existence, of the scientific method, affirming, for example, that Eve was undeniably formed from Adam’s rib, that a whale, or at least a “great fish” of some description, really had swallowed Jonah, that Joshua actually did stop the sun and hold it in place for several hours, and that God had created the world in the year 4004 B.C. No intelligent Christian, Darrow retorted, would or could believe such errant nonsense.
 Both he and Bryan had loftier aspirations than to engage in such a pointless debate. When the trial began, each in his own way determined to make it a referendum on public education and a primer on First Amendment rights and academic freedom, as well as a confrontation between science and religion. But the affair quickly degenerated into an even more vulgar spectacle than that taking place in the court room. When the trial at last got underway on July 13, reporters from throughout the United States and around the world flocked to Dayton, cramming the tiny court room day after day. Outside, merchants sold everything from soda and hot dogs to fans and Bibles. That the episode lacked the dignity of a serious and important legal proceeding was perhaps to be expected, for it had originated as something of a publicity stunt.
In 1925, John Washington Butler, a forty-nine-year-old farmer who had been elected to the Tennessee state legislature the year before, introduced a bill to outlaw the teaching of evolution in public high schools and colleges. The bill passed both houses of the legislature, although many members of the House of Representatives, not wishing to alienate their constituents, had voted for it assuming that the Senate would defeat it. For the same reason, many senators voted in the affirmative, confident that the governor would veto it. To appease Christian fundamentalists in the state, Governor Austin Peay signed the bill into law on March 21, 1925, certain that it would never be tested in the courts.
George Rappelyea of New York, who managed the Cumberland Coal and Iron Company in Dayton, thought the anti-evolution law absurd and stupid. At Robinson’s Drug Store, Rappelyea debated its merits with the locals. Although animated, these deliberations proved inconclusive. The frustrated disputants summoned John Thomas Scopes to settle the matter. Scopes was of the opinion that the law made it impossible to teach biology. With support and encouragement from the American Civil Liberties Union, Rappelyea decided to attempt what Governor Peay thought improbable when he signed the Butler bill. Rappelyea sought to test the constitutionality of the law in court. To that end, he persuaded Scopes to violate the law, which Scopes at last reluctantly agreed to do. However the case was finally adjudicated, Rappelyea said, it would generate tremendous publicity. Among the most renowned show trials of the twentieth century, the entire affair grew from a more or less amicable disagreement that took place in a drug store on a warm April afternoon and that to almost everyone’s astonishment transformed Dayton, Tennessee into the focus of national and international attention.
Perhaps seeking to mute the fervor and agitation, Judge Raulston deliberately narrowed the scope of the proceedings. He ruled that the only issue before the court was whether Scopes had taught evolution. No one could deny that he had. But had he? On April 23, Scopes assigned the chapter on evolution from George William Hunter’s Civic Biology. Because of illness, he missed the next class and thus never discussed evolution with his students. He left them responsible for learning the material on their own. Scopes was, in fact, not even at the school on the day listed on the indictment.[viii] Nevertheless, the jury required fewer than ten minutes to convict Scopes of violating the Butler Act. Raulston fined him $100. Scopes never paid the fine. Two years after the trial ended, in 1927, the Tennessee supreme court on appeal reversed Scopes’s conviction. While upholding the legality of the Butler Act, the justices ruled that Raulston had violated the state constitution by imposing a fine larger than permitted without the express recommendation of the jury.[ix]
The folly of the Scopes trial notwithstanding, serious questions about the place of science and religion in American life remained unanswered. Nearly thirty years earlier, in 1898, the theologian and philosopher Josiah Royce had already begun to contemplate the limitations of science. Royce challenged the view of the Social Darwinists and other advocates of scientific objectivity, contending that scientific laws were not objective transcripts of reality but instead were human contrivances used to describe natural phenomena. Science, Royce explained, provided a common language with which to discuss what human beings assumed, and what they could say, about nature. Nature itself, he added, was “as a finite reality, something whose very conception we have actually derived from our social relations…. Our relations with nature are thus such as involve a more or less social contrast between our life and the life of nature.”[x] In essence, Royce concluded that scientific processes were no more than collective fictions. Moreover, the logic of science and the assumption of its objective, universal validity were themselves tautological. Science purported to describe and elucidate reality. But science identified as reality only those phenomena that it could describe and explain. Scientists, Royce lamented, ignored or rejected “the endless indescribabilities of our existence.”[xi] Human beings had fashioned science and ascribed scientific laws to nature to satisfy their intellectual quest for understanding and their emotional need for certainty.
Yet, by the last decades of the nineteenth and the early decades of the twentieth century, at the very moment when physicists were dismantling formerly irrefutable truths about nature and the universe, science had become the foundation of the American faith in stability, order, and progress. Nowhere was the initiative to unite science and religion more in evidence than among liberal Protestants. Subjecting the Bible to rigorous textual analysis and criticism, they cast into doubt many of the cherished tenets of fundamentalist orthodoxy, not least the doctrine of creation. Darwin’s hypotheses, so liberals insisted, were perfectly compatible with the ordered universe that a rational deity had created. Science was nothing less than the instrument by which human beings could fathom the mind of God. It translated divine revelation into a language that men and women could understand.
Despite the controversies that Darwin’s work elicited, it satisfied the American desire for a systematic law of progress not merely for nature but also for society. Darwinian science had confirmed that the advent of the United States marked the apex of human evolution. Americans thought themselves the most highly developed representatives of the species. Darwin had proved that America really was a city upon a hill endowed with a mission to save the rest of mankind from poverty, vice, sin, and ignorance. Liberal advocates, of course, tended to overlook or to deemphasize that evolution, in Darwin’s judgment, was the product of a continuous struggle for existence the ended with the survival of the fittest. No matter. Sustained by their evolutionary preeminence, Americans were uniquely fit to overcome any challenge. They were the best people on earth, the most advanced people who had ever lived, the consummate expression of God’s handiwork.
Since the last quarter of the nineteenth century, following the publication of Darwin’s Descent of Man in 1871, liberal theologians and ministers had sought, somewhat paradoxically, to reconcile science and religion by separating them. The Bible, they maintained, was not a primer on science. Nor did science concern itself with theology. Each was valid in its own realm; each had its own expertise. Science did not negate the revealed word of God. No scientific discovery ever had or could demonstrate that God was not the creator and master of the universe. But scripture also did not and could not disclose the truths of the natural world, which God had concealed from human beings and which He permitted them to uncover gradually through the application of the scientific method. There was thus no tension or contradiction between religion and science, no dispute between scientific truth and theological error. For fundamentalists and other religious conservatives, on the contrary, for the millions of Americans who were the theological kindred of William Jennings Bryan, the effort to isolate religion from science was misplaced and inadequate. To them, Darwin and all he represented were anathema. If Darwin were right then the Bible was wrong. Such as prospect was unthinkable.
For the rest of the 1920s, such evangelicals as Aimee Semple McPherson and Billy Sunday denounced both modern science and liberal Protestantism. In their increasingly strident defense of “old-time” Christianity, McPherson presided at the ritual hangings of those whom she called “monkey teachers,” while Sunday linked science in general and evolution in particular to rising crime rates. He reassured fundamentalists that their version of Christianity was essential to the American creed. Any deviation was theologically heretical and politically traitorous. In his bombastic sermons, Sunday condemned not only atheists, agnostics, and a panoply of religious dissenters, but also socialists, communists, and adherents to the Social Gospel. Preaching that Jesus was “the greatest scrapper that ever lived,” Sunday articulated a belligerent gospel that appealed to those who thought nothing but the revival of a militant faith could reverse the descent into private immorality and social disarray.[xii]
If Sunday transformed evangelism into big business by incorporating the techniques of advertising and marketing to sell salvation like any other commodity, McPherson fused the appeal of religion with the glamor of show business. Routinely castigating the depravity of motion pictures, she nonetheless used her beauty, her charm, and her flair for the dramatic, such as her theatrical faith healings, to establish an impressive business empire, which by the end of the 1920s included an overseas mission, a publishing house, a college, and a radio station. McPherson’s “four-square gospel”–Regeneration, Divine Healing, the Second Coming, and the Baptism of the Holy Ghost–drew tens of thousands from throughout southern California to her Pentecostal Temple in Los Angeles and attracted perhaps even more to the sermons she broadcast over the radio. She countered Sunday’s masculine bluster with a more soothing message of love. But McPherson also once began a sermon by riding a motorcycle down the main aisle of her church. She also had elaborate sets constructed on which to stage a contest between God and Satan, the latter of whom floated across the battlefield in a hot air balloon. Only evidence of financial mismanagement, the conduct of an adulterous affair with the manager of her radio station, and rumors of an abortion chilled the ardor of her congregation and radio audience.
Whether charlatans who made money by exploiting the insecurities of gullible, confused, and frightened men and women or devout servants of God who satisfied the longing for religious ecstasy and offered the hope of spiritual comfort, Sunday and McPherson unquestionably participated in the growing cult of personality that enthralled Americans during the 1920s.[xiii] Even the staid Calvin Coolidge recognized the necessity of presenting an attractive public image. Ever the conservative, he routinely posed for photographs donning a cowboy hat, an Indian headdress, or a farmer’s overhauls. None of those identities was authentic to Coolidge. All of them evoked a vanishing American past, calling to mind a simpler time and more wholesome era with which Coolidge sought to associate himself and his administration.
These rather quaint attempts to engage in a public relations campaign rendered Coolidge’s influence on the cult of personality negligible. The 1920s instead brought forth a new brand of cultural hero: the actor, the entertainer, and the athlete, the idols of a consumer society. As was the case with religion and science, Americans were of two minds. They admired the technocratic expertise and scientific authority of Herbert Hoover, who emphasized administrative efficiency and anticipated the managerial state. At the same time, many also revered Huey Long, the charismatic and demagogic governor of Louisiana, who argued incongruously that government at all levels was becoming too bureaucratic and too distant from ordinary citizens. Pulled in opposite directions at once, Americans were caught between two competing and often incompatible ideas of freedom. One the one hand, they needed big government to shepherd them through the complexities of modern life, which they could not navigate on their own. Under the auspices of such men as the redoubtable Hoover, the state enacted laws informed by evidence and adopted enlightened public policies that made life better and easier for everyone, ensuring the promise of a radiant future. On the other hand, they worshipped individualism and craved freedom, even if only to be left alone to make their own choices and their own mistakes without interference. Consumption seemed for a moment to reconcile the tensions that rippled across the surface of American life during the 1920s.
The appeal of such sports figures as the tennis player William T. “Big Bill” Tilden, the golfer Robert T. “Bobby” Jones, the football player Harold “Red” Grange, and especially the boxer William Harrison “Jack” Dempsey, and the baseball player George Herman “Babe” Ruth spoke to the need that many Americans felt to exercise both power and control. Americans venerated the phenomenal talents and individual achievements of these athletes. They seemed the embodiment of the older ideal of freedom from restraint, sweeping aside all obstacles that stood in the way of their success. Yet, the shrewd promotions that marketed automobiles, breakfast foods, cosmetics, and deodorant to consumers also sold athletes. Behind these men, so adored for their individual prowess and mastery, stood the professional advertising man, such as Dempsey’s agents George “Tex” Rickard and Jack “Doc” Kearns and Ruth’s manager, Christy Walsh. Dempsey’s and Ruth’s abilities were undeniable; they repeatedly put them on display for all to see. But it was marketing that made them celebrities and brought them the fame and wealth that accompanied stardom.[xiv]
In the depictions of their clients, Rickard, Kearns, and Walsh created fantasies of instant success, imposing celebrity, unassailable power, and, of course, incomparable riches. The image which these promoters fashioned suggested that in sports a man, and to a lesser extent a woman, could soar to fame and fortune without enduring the years of arduous toil and training or submitting to the arcane requirements of various bureaucracies. Natural ability alone was enough, an assumption that, of course, implied that natural ability would be noticed and rewarded. But those standing on assemblies lines, at work in factories, or seated behind desks in business or government offices recognized the contrast with their lives.
The image of the sports hero did not acquaint them with modern advertising or marketing techniques. Instead, the careers of athletes such as Dempsey and Ruth reminded them of an older America in which ability combined with determination and persistence were enough to bring success. Moreover, achievement in sports was unambiguous. It could be measured with precision in the knockout punches delivered and the home runs hit. The sports hero of the 1920s offered Americans an image of men who were endowed with an all-conquering, all-encompassing power–men who were the masters of any situation, any rival, and most important, of themselves. Men who, in short, could determine their own fate. Such a world and such men never existed. And if by some chance they had, entry would have been reserved for only the few, just as was the case with the elect who entered heaven or the fittest who survived the rigors of natural selection. But many Americans during the 1920s, especially the white working- and middle-class men who patronized spectator sports, never doubted the reality of this vision, just as they also feared that cherished world was receding further into the past, slipping forever beyond their reach.
No sports hero exceeded the capacity of Babe Ruth to project images of power, control, and success. He seemed living proof that in America any man could still rise from poor, mean, and humble origins to profit by his own endowments and initiative. Yet, just as with American society during the 1920s, tragedy lurked beneath the surface of Ruth’s life. Ruth embodied all the tensions, contradictions, and excesses of the age. He was America’s national exaggeration, the ideal representative of a consumer society. Americans seemed to enjoy Ruth’s insatiable appetites. They refused to acknowledge that his extravagance and indulgence concealed patterns of hedonism, obsession, and illness.
Ruth stood in marked contrast to another American hero of the 1920s: the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh. Lindbergh seemed the antidote to the public scandals and the private indecencies that were disgracing American life.[xv] He was, by contrast, the very model of rectitude and decency. Lindbergh received accolades from his countrymen and peoples the world over not only because of his transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. His demeanor also impressed them. Lindbergh was modest. He apparently had no vices. He did not smoke, drink, or carouse. He was a abstemious, reserved, thoughtful, and serious. Yet, Americans made him as much the object of fantasy as they made Ruth. Lindbergh was the newest version of the classic American pioneer, resourceful, intrepid, and accomplished. “We measure our heroes as we do our ships,” intoned Charles Evans Hughes, “by their displacement:”
Colonel Lindbergh has displaced everything…. His displacement is beyond all calculation. He fills all our thoughts. He has even displaced politics. For the time being, he has lifted us into the freer and upper air that is his home. He has displaced everything that is petty, that is sordid, that is vulgar. What is money in the presence of Charles A. Lindbergh? No one can debunk Lindbergh, for there is no bunk about him.[xvi]
The youth, vigor, and innocence that exemplified America at its finest seemed to reside in Lindbergh. He had conquer space and had mastered the machine. He was not the victim of forces beyond his comprehension or control. He demonstrated that in a world of increasingly complex and remote organizations, the individual still mattered and could still make a difference.[xvii]
Exhibiting not the innocence but the gullibility and naiveté of a child, Ruth seemed also to embody the same extraordinary capacities that Lindbergh displayed. Unlike ordinary mortals, Ruth could change the course of events by delivering a mighty blow at precisely the right moment. But like American society during the 1920s, Ruth’s life was without structure or order, resting on precarious foundations that always threatened to collapse into chaos. His drunken escapades and his persistent incidents with women may have enhanced his reputation with fans, but they brought such notoriety that the Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, saw few options except to suspend Ruth for forty days and to fine him the princely sum of $5,000.
To deepen the irony that defined Ruth’s life, character, and career, his accomplishments on the diamond were unattainable. As a baseball player, Ruth was without peer. The possibilities and hopes that he seemed to represent were available only to him and to no one else. The promise of such extraordinary achievement was false. Only the remarkable few, such as Ruth’s teammate Lou Gehrig, could even imagine approximating the same stature and prominence. The threat of failure and tragedy haunted Ruth as it haunted the United States throughout the 1920s. Although few dared to acknowledge the situation, as the decade came to an end, the possibilities of catastrophe became more apparent, until suddenly revealing themselves in all their fury and horror.
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[i] Quoted in Randy Moore, “The Lingering Impact of the Scopes Trial on High School Biology Textbooks,” BioScience 51/9 (September, 2001), 790-96. The electronic version of the essay that I consulted did not provide specific page numbers. See also Edward J. Larson, Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution (New York, 1989).
[ii] Scopes assigned a popular textbook written by George William Hunter, a former biology teacher, titled A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems, published in 1914. Although Hunter embraced the theory of evolution, the Tennessee textbook commission had approved the book for high school biology classes. It had been in use in Tennessee high schools without controversy since 1919. See Moore, Ibid.
[iii] There are several excellent studies of fundamentalism. See George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 (New York, 1980) and Bruce B. Lawrence, Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age (San Francisco, 1989).
[iv] Quoted in Moore, Ibid. See also L.S. De Camp, The Great Monkey Trial (Garden City, NY 1968). Ferguson was the first female governor in the South. She replaced her husband who, in 1917, had been impeached and removed from office as the result of corruption and bribery in the issuing of state contracts for road construction.
[v] William Graham Sumner, “The Forgotten Man,” in The Forgotten Man and Other Essays, ed. by Albert Galloway Keller (New Haven, CT., 1918), 480.
[vi] On Darrow’s thought, see Arthur Weinberg, Clarence Darrow: A Sentimental Rebel (New York, 1980).
[vii] Quoted in George Brown Tindall, The Emergence of the New South 1913-1945 (Baton Rouge, LA,1967), 201. See also Lawrence W. Levine, Defender of the Faith, William Jennings Bryan: The Last Decade, 1915-1925 (New York, 1965) and Willard H. Smith, The Social and Religious Thought of William Jennings Bryan (Lawrence, KS, 1975).
[viii] See Edward J. Larson, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion (New York, 1997).
[ix] For a documentary history of the Scopes trial, see Leslie H. Allen, Bryan and Darrow at Dayton: The Record and Documents of the “Bible-Evolution Trial” (New York, 1967). The best narrative account remains Ray Ginger, Six Days or Forever? Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes (Boston, 1958).
[x] Josiah Royce, “Self-Consciousness, Social Consciousness and Nature,” in Studies in Good and Evil (New York, 1898), 204-205.
[xi] Josiah Royce, “Natural Law, Ethics, and Evolution,” in Ibid., 129.
[xii] Quoted in Stephen Prothero, American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (New York, 2008), 94. See also Robert F. Martin, “Billy Sunday and Christian Manliness,” The Historian 56/4 (Summer 1996), 811-23.
[xiii] The standard biography of Billy Sunday remains William G. McLoughlin, Billy Sunday Was His Real Name (Chicago, 1955). See also Lyle W. Dorsett, Billy Sunday and the Redemption of Urban America (Grand Rapids, MI, 1991). On Aimee Semple McPherson, see Robert Bahr, Least of All Saints:The Story of Aimee Semple McPherson (Englewood Cliffs, NY, 1979); Edith L. Blumhofer, Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody’s Sister (Grand Rapids, MI, 1993); Daniel Mark Epstein, Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson (New York, 1994); Matthew Avery Sutton, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (Cambridge, MA, 2007). Robert V.P. Steele, Storming Heaven: The Lives and Turmoils of Mimmie Kennedy and Aimee Semple McPherson (New York, 1970) is also useful. 
[xiv] On Jack Dempsey’s life and career, see Randy Roberts, Jack Dempsey: The Manassa Mauler (Baton Rouge, LA, 1979). There are myriad studies about, and biographies of, Babe Ruth. See Robert Smith, Babe Ruth’s America (New York, 1974); Ken Sobol, Babe Ruth and the American Dream (New York, 1974); Robert Creamer, Babe: The Legend Comes to Life (New York, 1974); Marshal Smelser, The Life that Ruth Built: A Biography (New York, 1975); Edmund F. Wehrle, Breaking Babe Ruth: Baseball’s Campaign Against its Biggest Star (Columbia, MO, 2018).
[xv] I have in mind such incidents as the lurid prosecution of the actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle for the death of actress Virginia Rappe, whom he allegedly raped with a soda bottle at a party in his hotel suite. Although a jury eventually acquitted Arbuckle, whom the district attorney of San Francisco tried three times, his career was ruined. Other headline-making trials that took place during the decade included that of Ruth Brown Snyder and her corset-salesman lover, Henry Judd Gray, accused of murdering her husband, and, of course the infamous trial and execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. In addition, Americans had to cope with the corruption of the Harding administration, which culminated in the Teapot Dome Scandal, the president’s own infidelity, and the bloody competition between rival mobsters such as Al Capone and George “Bugs” Moran, to say nothing of the immense profits that they realized from their various criminal enterprises.
[xvi] Quoted in the Sheridan, Wyoming Post-Enterprise, Vol. 41/No. 89 (October 14, 1927), p. 2.
[xvii] On Lindbergh, see John M. Ward, “The Meaning of Lindbergh’s Flight,” American Quarterly10 (1958), 3-16; Kenneth S. Davis, The Hero: Charles A. Lindbergh and the American Dream (Garden City, NY, 1959); Walter S. Ross, The Last Hero: Charles A. Lindbergh (New York, 1968); Brenden Gill, Lindbergh Alone (New York, 1977); A. Scott Berg, Lindbergh (New York, 1998). Lindbergh provided a personal account of his historic flight in The Spirit of St. Louis (New York, 1953).
The featured image is a photo taken of Clarence Darrow (left) and William Jennings Bryan (right) during the Scopes Trial in 1925, and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
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We Ranked All of Taylor Swift’s Boyfriends, Even the Ones We Kind of Forgot About – The Mary Sue

We Ranked All of Taylor Swift’s Boyfriends, Even the Ones We Kind of Forgot About  The Mary Suesource

‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ Film Is Coming to Disney+ – Her Campus

‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ Film Is Coming to Disney+  Her Campussource

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