Happy Birthday, Clarence Darrow

Clarence Seward Darrow was born at Kinsman, Ohio on this day in 1857, the son of the town’s undertaker. He joined the Ohio bar in 1878, moving on to Chicago in 1887 where he became counsel for the city and later for the Chicago and Northwest Railroad. He left the railroad to defend Eugene V. Debs, the head of the striking union, and from then on was a defense attorney, often for hopeless causes and extremely unsympathetic clients. He defended at least 100 clients on trial for murder, and though many were found guilty, none was put to death. He defended John Scopes in the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial” at Dayton, Tennessee; he might have won after brilliantly calling the prosecutor (William Jennings Bryan) to testify, but instead demanded the jury render a guilty verdict so he could appeal to a higher court. He was extremely good with words, in hours-long closing arguments and in brief.

As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.
Chase after the truth like all hell and you’ll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat-tails.
None meet life honestly and few heroically.
The man who fights for his fellow-man is a better man than the one who fights for himself.
True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.
I don’t like spinach, and I’m glad I don’t, because if I liked it I’d eat it, and I just hate it.

– All from Clarence Seward Darrow, 1857 – 1938

From Quotes of the Day

One response to “Happy Birthday, Clarence Darrow

  1. Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz claims in his book, “America on Trial: Inside the Legal Battles That Transformed Our Nation,” that Darrow was a jury bribing barely competent attorney.