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William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was an American lawyer, statesman and politician, best known for his attack on the theory of evolution. Driven by his principles and Presbyterian beliefs, he became known as ‘The Great Commoner’, because of his total faith in the goodness and rightness of the common people. One of the most popular speakers of his time, he stood as Democrat nominee for President on three occasions (1896, 1900, 1908), and became Secretary of State to President Woodrow Wilson (1912).
The events of the First World War convinced Bryan that Darwinism was responsible for the immorality of the age. In 1921, he began a major anti-evolution campaign with a series of lectures at Union Theological Seminary, Virginia, published as In His Image. To increase his influence he attempted to run for position of Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. He also lobbied for in favour of laws banning the teaching of evolution in state schools. In 1925, he spoke for the prosecution in the Scopes Monkey Trial, in which high school teacher, John Scopes, was found guilty of breaking the Tennessee anti-evolution law. Bryan died only five days after the trial ended. Buried in Arlington National Cemetery, he was memorialised by the building of Bryan College, a private co-educational Christian college located in Dayton, Tennessee.