Darrow, Clarence Seward (1857-1938), was the most famous American lawyer of the early 1900's. He became known worldwide as a brilliant criminal defender.
Darrow was born in Kinsman, Ohio, near Youngstown, on April 18, 1857. He studied law for a year at the University of Michigan and began practicing law in Ohio in the early 1880's. Darrow moved to Chicago in 1887 and later worked as an attorney for the city of Chicago and the Chicago & North Western Railway. Darrow represented Eugene V. Debs and other officials of the American Railway Union who were arrested for supporting the Pullman strike of 1894, which disrupted mail delivery. This case made him famous as a defender of labor interests. Darrow became active as a defense attorney for labor unions and served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1903 to 1905. In 1911, Darrow went to Los Angeles to defend John J. and James B. McNamara. The brothers, both labor leaders, were charged with dynamiting the Los Angeles Times Building. Darrow had the McNamaras plead guilty and saved them from a probable death sentence. But he lost union support forever. Darrow returned to Chicago and started to specialize in criminal cases. He was nearly 70 years old when he tried his two most spectacular cases. In 1924, he defended Nathan F. Leopold, Jr., and Richard A. Loeb, who admitted kidnapping and murdering 14-year-old Bobby Franks in an attempt to commit a perfect crime. Darrow used psychiatric evidence to argue that the 19-year-old Leopold and 18-year-old Loeb were mentally ill. His goal was to keep them from receiving the death sentence, which he strongly opposed. Leopold and Loeb each received a sentence of life imprisonment plus 99 years. In 1925, Darrow helped attract widespread attention to the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee. In this case, he defended the right of John T. Scopes to teach the theory of evolution in public school. Darrow died on March 13, 1938.