The Evolution Controversy in North Carolina in the 1920s


1920 T.T. Martin, a Baptist preacher in Kentucky publishes articles demanding the resignation of Wake Forest president William L. Poteat because of Poteat's open acceptance of the theory of evolution.
January 23, 1924 North Carolina Governor Cameron Morrison announces that he is opposed to state schools using any textbook that "prints a picture of a monkey and a man on the same page." Two of the six biology textbooks recommended by the state Text Book Commission are rejected by the State Board of Education, with the Governor's support, because the books discuss evolution.
January 8, 1925 D. Scott Poole, legislator representing Hoke County, introduces a resolution opposed to the teaching of evolution in state-supported schools in North Carolina. The resolution is referred to the Education Committee for review.
February 10, 1925 The House Committee on Education holds a public hearing to discuss the Poole resolution. With the committee deadlocked, Chairman Henry Groves Connor casts the deciding vote, resulting in the bill's being returned to the House with an unfavorable report.
February 19, 1925 After a contentious debate that ranges over three legislative sessions, the full House votes on the Poole anti-evolution resolution, defeating it by a vote of 67-46.
July 1925 In Dayton, Tennessee, the case of State v. John Scopes is tried. Known commonly as the Scopes "Monkey Trial," which challenged Tennessee's law against teaching evolution in public schools, the case brings national attention to the evolution debate. Some of the anti-evolutionists who were active in Tennessee vow to take the fight to North Carolina next.
1925-1926 Anti-evolutionists promise to re-introduce a bill prohibiting the teaching of evolution in North Carolina schools during the next legislative session. The debate continues throughout the year in newspapers and other publications.
Spring 1926 As the Democratic primaries near, the subject of teaching evolution in the schools is a central issue in many campaigns.
April 28, 1926 T.T. Martin, an active participant in both the Bible Crusaders of America and the Anti-Evolution League of America, arrives in Charlotte with plans to travel the state lobbying for an anti-evolution bill to be introduced at the next legislative session.
May 4, 1926 Three hundred anti-evolutionists gather for a rally in Charlotte, reaffirming the commitment of the "Committee of One Hundred" to the prohibition of teaching evolution in North Carolina's public schools.
May 12, 1926 The Anti-Evolution League of North Carolina, a branch of the Anti-Evolution League of America, is formed.
June 5, 1926 In statewide Democratic primaries, several candidates running on "anti-Poole bill" platforms are victorious.
December 9, 1926 The Committee of One Hundred changes its name to the North Carolina Bible League.
January 1927 When the General Assembly convenes, the North Carolina Bible League presents petitions with over 10,000 names supporting an anti-evolution measure.
February 10, 1927 The House Committee on Education debates the new anti-evolution bill, which was written by the North Carolina Bible League and introduced by Representative D. Scott Poole.
February 15, 1927 The House Committee on Education votes 25-11 to return the Poole bill with an unfavorable report. Sensing that there is not enough support in the legislature to pass the bill, supporters decide not to send it forward to the full House for a vote.
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