A famous defender of the underdog, the oppressed, and the powerless, Clarence Darrow (1857–1938) is one of the true legends of the American legal system. His cases were many and various, but all were marked by his unequivocal sense of justice, as well as his penchant for representing infamous and unpopular clients, such as the Chicago thrill killers Leopold and Loeb; Ossian Sweet, the African American doctor charged with murder after fighting off a violent, white mob in Detroit; and John T. Scopes, the teacher on trial in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial.
Published for the first time in 1957, Attorney for the Damned collects Darrow’s most influential summations and supplements them with scene-setting explanations and comprehensive notes by Arthur Weinberg. Darrow confronts issues that remain relevant over half a century after his death: First Amendment rights, capital punishment, and the separation of church and state. With an insightful forward by Justice William O. Douglas, this volume serves as a powerful reminder of Darrow’s relevance today.
Closing Arguments: Clarence Darrow on Religion, Law, and Society collects, for the first time, Darrow's thoughts on his three main preoccupations. The effect reveals a carefully conceived philosophy, expressed with delightful pungency and clarity. The provocative content of these writings still challenges us. His thoughts on social issues, especially on the dangers of religious fundamentalism, are uncannily prescient. A dry and even misanthropic humor lightens his essays, and his reflections on himself and his philosophy reveal a quiet dignity at the core of a man better known for provoking Americans during an era of unprecedented tumult. From the wry "Is the Human Race Getting Anywhere," to the scornful "Patriotism," and his elegaic summing up, "At Seventy-Two," Darrow's writing still stimulates and pleases. Darrow, son of a village undertaker and coffinmaker, rose to become one of America's greatest attorneys—and surely its most famous. The Ohio native gained fame for being at the center of momentous trials, including his 1924 defense of Leopold and Loeb and his defense of Darwinian principles in the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial." Some have traced Darrow's lifelong campaign against capital punishment to his boyhood terror at seeing a Civil War soldier buried—and no client of Darrow's was ever executed, not even black men who were charged with murder for defending themselves against a white mob. A rebel who always sided intellectually and emotionally with the minority, Darrow remains a figure to contend with sixty-seven years after his death. "Inside every lawyer is the wreck of a poet," Darrow once said. Closing Arguments demonstrates that, in his case, that statement is true.