Clarence Seward Darrow was born on April 18, 1857 to Ammirus and Emily Darrow in Kinsman Ohio. He was one of eight children (Hannon 1-2). Darrow was named after William Henry Seward, an abolitionist (Kersten 13). According to Kersten, Darrow’s mother was “practical and efficient” and neither parent was affectionate; Darrow could not recall his mother ever kissing him or caressing him (9-10). His mother, Emily died when he was 15 years old (Farrell 27).
Ammirus taught Darrow to question rules and authority and he imparted in him the value of human life, regardless of behavior or color of the person (Farrell 25). Although both parents had a large impact in influencing him, Darrow believed it was his mother who influenced him the greatest (Kersten 9). Regardless of who influenced him more, his father instilled many of the values that shaped the man whom Darrow became and he never parted from those values. Whereas Darrow did not receive affection from his parents, he was intensely sensitive, compassionate and empathetic for the living; humans and animals alike. Darrow “refused to eat fowl ever again” after his mother butchered and cooked one of the chickens that he preferred and had named, and later he stopped eating lamb and veal (Farrell 26). Recess and lunch were his favorite part of the school day and he loved to play and watch the game of baseball as a boy as well as an adult (Kersten 15).
Darrow grew up to be a commanding, intimidating man, being over six feet tall with a baritone voice. He was an “untidy” man, wearing crumpled and tattered clothes, slack pants, suspenders and he had a lock of hair that persistently fell over his forehead (Farrell 6-7). He married Jessie Ohl in 1880 and they had one child, Paul (Farrell 30-32). Darrow and Jessie divorced in 1897 and in 1903 he married Ruby Hammerstrom; she supported him throughout his life even though she knew that he has an ongoing relationship with Mary Field whom he met in 1908 (Hannon 15, 16, 24, 30).
Darrow pursued several different jobs and activities throughout his life. He worked for his father making furniture, which he hated (Kersten 16). He took a job teaching school where he became popular with the students, but not with the parents, when he announced that he would increase the length of lunch and recess and that he would not strike the students (Kersten 17).
Throughout Darrow’s life, he was involved in politics, The NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, gave speeches wrote books and practiced law. Darrow was an atheist, against the death penalty, and challenged the norms of society; going against the grain. He was disliked by many. Darrow commanded great audiences in notorious court cases, just a few of the many cases being:
The McNamara Case The Leopold and Loeb Case
The Scopes Trial The Sweets Trial
The Scottsboro Case The Massie Case
His own Bribery Trials – The People vs. Clarence Darrow Helped on Defense Team of David Curtis Stephenson
In an audio...