dayton is located in south tennessee 35 miles north of chattanooga on US 27. dayton is the county seat of rhea county tennessee. the community of smith crossroads was established at the site of dayton in the 1820's. the town was renamed dayton in 1877. today the major employer in dayton is the La-Z-Boy furniture company. dayton became internationally famous in 1925 for the scopes "monkey" trial. of interest to the tourist is the scopes trial museum and near by lake chickamauga.
dayton and the rhea county courthouse became internationally famous in 1925 for the scopes "monkey" trial. the leaders of dayton decided to host the scopes trial as a publicity stunt to bring attention to the town. the trial was to challenge the butler act which made it unlawful to teach the theory of evolution in tennessee public schools. the american civil liberties union (ACLU) financed a test case and hired a tennessee high school teacher to intentionally teach a chapter from a text book supporting charles darwin's theory of evolution. the famous orator william jennings bryan was hired as prosecuter and the famous trial lawyer clarence darrow was hired as john scopes defence counsel. bryan won the case and scopes was fined $ 100. the trial became an international media circus. over 200 newspaper reporters converged on dayton and trained chimpanzees performed on the lawn of the courthouse. the scopes trial was the first trial in the united states to have radio coverage. in 1960 the scopes trial was the inspiration for the hollywood movie "inherit the wind". the scopes "monkey" trial was an interesting chapter in early 20 th century american history.