Clarence Seward Darrow

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Darrow, Clarence Seward

Darrow, Clarence Seward, 1857–1938, American lawyer, b. Kinsman, Ohio. He first practiced law in Ashtabula, Ohio. In 1887 he moved to Chicago, where he was corporation counsel for several years and conducted the cases that the city brought to reduce transit rates. Later general counsel for the Chicago and Northwestern RR, he resigned (1894) to defend Eugene V. Debs and others in connection with the Pullman strike. It was this case that made Darrow famous. The defense was unsuccessful, but he soon renounced his lucrative practice to defend the underdog. During his long career, he took part in some 2,000 trials and was paid nothing for about a third of them.

A staunch opponent of capital punishment, Darrow exerted his tremendous courtroom skill in behalf of those charged with murder; none of his more than 100 murder trial clients was sentenced to death, although he failed to win a reprieve (1894) for Robert Prendergast, who had already been convicted of murdering Chicago Mayor Carter Harrison before Darrow took his case. Darrow procured, in 1906, the acquittal of William D. Haywood and his associates on the charge of murdering former Gov. Steunenberg of Idaho. He offended many socialists (with whom he had been popularly identified) by introducing a plea of guilty in his defense of the McNamara brothers in the Los Angeles Times dynamiting case (1911). Darrow was himself tried for allegedly bribing a juror in the trial, but he was acquitted. In the Chicago “thrill” kidnapping and murder trial (1924) of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb (see Leopold and Loeb) he saved the defendants from execution.

Long an agnostic, Darrow fought fundamentalist religious tenets in the Scopes evolution case (1925; see Scopes trial). Pitted against William Jennings Bryan, he defended without success a schoolteacher charged with violating a Tennessee statute prohibiting teaching that humans are descended from other forms of life. Many felt, nevertheless, that Darrow's examination of Bryan on the witness stand did much to discredit fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. Among Darrow's books are an autobiographical novel, Farmington (1904); Crime: Its Cause and Treatment (1922); and Attorney for the Damned (1957), a collection of his defense summations, ed. by A. Weinberg.


See his autobiography (1932); The Essential Words and Writings of Clarence Darrow (2007), ed. by E. J. Larson; biographies by I. Stone (1941, repr. 1971), M. Gurko (1965), J. E. Driemen (1992), R. J. Jensen (1992), J. A. Farrell (2011), and A. E. Kersten (2011); D. McRae, The Great Trials of Clarence Darrow (2010).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Clarence Darrow came into the case, probably, Strang argues, at the urging of Emma Goldman to present the defendants' appeal.
Join Granite Pathways for an evening with one of America's most famous lawyers and advocates of civil rights, Clarence Darrow. The famed lawyer's courtroom gusto and salty humor are portrayed by Richard Coppinger, who also wrote the one-man play.
The play is set in 1932 and concerns the famous American lawyer Clarence Darrow. Having acted successfully in many high-profile cases, Darrow appears for the defence in a notorious case in Hawaii.
A It was the magnificent Inherit The Wind (1960) which was based on a true 1925 trial when a teacher named John E Scopes was accused of violating the state laws of Tennessee in which he was defended by the legendary Clarence Darrow. It became known as The Monkey Trial.
"Convert [the trial] into a headlong assault on Bryan," Mencken told defense attorney Clarence Darrow. And so Darrow did, grilling the aged orator on the witness stand about his biblical literalism.
In her acceptance speech, Scanlon referenced the past by quoting what Clarence Darrow said of women: "You can never be corporation lawyers because you are not cold blooded.
Shankly will be portrayed as a man of the people, a cross between Che Guevara and Clarence Darrow.
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Burning wood instead of gas to create energy reminds me of Spencer Tracy's line in the film "Inherit the Wind" when, as Clarence Darrow, he stated that before we know it, "with banners flying and with drums beating, we'll be marching backward."
American lawyer and author Clarence Darrow was quoted as saying during the 1928 American presidential campaign: "Hoover, if elected, will do one thing that is almost incomprehensible to the human mind: he will make a great man out of Coolidge."
Abraham Lincoln, Clarence Darrow, Wyatt Earp, admirals and generals, the ineffable "Mr Roberts" - he played them all as tough but kindly, dependable father-figures.
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