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Clarence Darrow
Clarence Darrow.jpg
Clarence Seward Darrow ca. 1922
Clarence Seward Darrow

(1857-04-18)April 18, 1857
Died March 13, 1938(1938-03-13) (aged 80)
Chicago, Illinois
Cause of death Pulmonary heart disease
Alma mater Allegheny College
University of Michigan
Occupation Lawyer

Clarence Darrow (April 18, 1857 – March 13, 1938) was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He was the son of Eddy and Amirus Darrow, a furniture manufacturer and dealer Amirus Darrow had originally trained as a minister,but just before his ordination he experienced a crisis of faith that led him to question the existence of God and the notion of life after death. Darrow briefly attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, then taught school for several years before enrolling at the University of Michigan Law School.

His humor during trials, and his willingness to support civil rights, made him a famous lawyer.

Darrow spent the remaining years of his life in near seclusion. He died of heart disease at the age of eighty, respected by some and despised by others as a colorful rebel who was always willing to take on unpopular causes in the firm belief that they were the right ones to back-regardless of their impact on his career and his finances.

Early life

Clarence Darrow was born in the small town of Farmdale, Ohio, on April 18, 1857, the fifth son of Amirus and Emily Darrow (née Eddy), but grew up in nearby Kinsman, Ohio. Both the Darrow and Eddy families had deep roots in colonial New England, and several of Darrow's ancestors served in the American Revolution. Darrow's father was an ardent abolitionist and a proud iconoclast and religious freethinker. He was known throughout the town as the "village infidel". Emily Darrow was an early supporter of female suffrage and a women's rights advocate.

The young Clarence attended Allegheny College and the University of Michigan Law School, but did not graduate from either institution. He attended Allegheny College for only one year before the Panic of 1873 struck, and Darrow was determined not to be a financial burden to his father any longer. Over the next three years he taught in the winter at the district school in a country community.

While teaching, Darrow started to study the law on his own, and by the end of his third year of teaching, his family urged him to enter the law department at Ann Arbor. Darrow studied there for only a year when he decided that it would be much more cost-effective to apprentice (read law) in an actual law office. When he felt that he was ready, he took the Ohio bar exam and passed. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1878. The Clarence Darrow Octagon House, his childhood home in Kinsman, contains a memorial to him.

Marriages and child

Darrow married Jessie Ohl in April 1880. They had one child, Paul Edward Darrow, in 1883. They were divorced in 1897. Darrow married Ruby Hammerstrom, a journalist 16 years his junior, in 1903. They had no children.


Today, Clarence Darrow is remembered for his reputation as a fierce litigator who, in many cases, championed the cause of the underdog; because of this, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest criminal defense lawyers in American history.

Henry Drummond (left), a fictionalized version of Clarence Darrow, as portrayed by Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind.

According to legend, before he died, Darrow declared that if there was an afterlife, he would return on the small bridge (now known as the Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge) located just south of the Museum of Science and Industry in Hyde Park, Chicago on the date of his death.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Clarence Darrow para niños

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