Remembering Clarence Darrow

Clarence Seward Darrow was born at Kinsman, Ohio on this day in 1857.  The son of the undertaker, he joined the Ohio bar in 1878.  From there he moved on to Chicago where he became the City’s General Counsel.  Later he worked as an attorney for the Chicago and Northwest Railroad.  He left to defend Eugene V. Debs.  This marked a turning point in Darrow's career, from that point on he was primarily considered 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, only one was ever put to death. Darrow's most famous case, “The 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 very good with words, and his Closing Arguments could run twelve hours or more.

Below are some of his more famous quotes:

“Liberty is the most jealous and exacting mistress that can beguile the soul and brain of man.”

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”

“Ancestors do not mean so much. The rebel who succeeds generally makes it easier for the posterity that follows him; so these descendants are usually contented and smug and soft. Rebels are made from life, not ancestors.”

“If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.”

“Laws should be like clothes. They should be made to fit the people they serve.”

“The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business.”

     All from Clarence Darrow, 1857 – 1938

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

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