“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.” – Clarence Darrow
Clarence Darrow was a public speaker, miscellaneous writer, debater and lawyer who worked as defense counsel in a number of dramatic criminal trials. He grew up in an unconventional household and moved his young family to Chicago after practicing law in a small Ohio town. He was a prominent advocate for Georgist economic reform, a leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, and an American lawyer.
Five years later, Darrow became the general attorney for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. Although he was financially stable, he longed for a greater purpose in his life.
In 1887, Darrow attempted to free the anarchists charged in the Haymarket Riot. During 1894, he provided defense counsel for Eugene V. Debs, who was arrested on a federal charge following the Pullman Strike. Over the next few years, he went on to defend anarchists, labor leaders and strikers. By the turn of the century, Darrow was known as a celebrity of the radical left.
His career as a union lawyer came to an end in 1912, when Darrow took on a case defending two union officials accused of murder. Before the trial was over, Darrow was accused of bribing the jury. While he was not found guilty, biographers admit he was devastated, and his reputation would never be the same.
By the 1920s, Darrow had secured his place as the most famous trial attorney in the country, earning up to a quarter million dollars per case. Darrow also defended John T. Scopes’ right to teach evolution in 1925, saved teenage thrill-killers Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb from the death penalty in 1924 and secured the acquittal of labor leader William D. Haywood for assassination charges. Yet, it wasn’t the law or the pursuit of justice that excited him; he found his passion in arguing ideas.
Called a “sophisticated country lawyer,” Darrow remains notable for his quick wit, which marked him as one of the most well-known civil libertarians and American lawyers. Darrow continued to try high-profile cases into his 70s before passing away in 1938 at the age of 81.