At the height of his career, Clarence Darrow was the most well-known trial attorney in the country. He was raised in a small Ohio town and began supporting women’s equality and free thought at a very young age. Darrow, who was raised in a typical rural setting, had a strong desire to improve the social standing of women and also had abolitionist beliefs. Darrow was one of the few American Civil Liberties Union members that fought to change the world he lived in and was a fervent advocate for women’s rights and development. Along with holding such strong activist ideas, his legal profession also had many turbulent ups and downs. He gained notoriety for defending the young murderers Leopold and Loeb during their trials for the killing of a 14-year-old. He also handled a number of other cases, including the infamous Ossian Sweet trial, the Massie Trial, and the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. He is still remembered decades after his passing for his boisterous oratory, his funny personality, and his steadfast support of the “underdogs” throughout challenging trials. He is regarded as one of the best criminal defense attorneys in American history in the modern era.
Early Childhood & Life
Amirus Darrow and Emily Darrow welcomed Clarence Darrow into the world on April 18, 1857, in Ohio. His mother was a fervent supporter of women’s rights, while his father was an abolitionist.
He enrolled in Michigan Law School after attending Allegheny College, but he did not complete either program. In 1878, when he had already started studying law in Youngstown, Ohio, he was ultimately admitted to the bar.
Clarence Darrow’s Career
In Andover, Ohio, he opened his own practice and immediately became active in Democratic Party politics. His close involvement with Ohio’s political scene led to his appointment as the town attorney in recognition of his accomplishments and contributions.
He relocated to Chicago in 1887, where he practiced law for the municipal government, together with his wife and son. At Democratic Party rallies and while working on other initiatives that called for his oratory talents, he built a name for himself in this area.
He obtained a position as a corporate attorney for the “Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company” with the assistance of a close friend, John Altged, and in 1894 he represented Eugene V. Debs, who was being sued by the government for starting the Pullman Strike.
He took on the first criminal, the murder case of his career in the same year. Carter H. Harrison, Srmurderer .’s Patrick Prendergast, whom he opted to protect, was the mayor of Chicago. Many were surprised by his decision to represent a criminal, and despite the fact that his case ended terribly and the guilty man was executed, he ultimately made the decision that he wanted to practice criminal law.
He rose to prominence as one of America’s top lawyers by 1897 and played a key role in the formation of the Populist Party in Illinois. He made the decision to try his hand at politics and ran as a Democrat for Congress, but he was unsuccessful.
He defended the Western Federation of Miners from 1906 to 1908 after they were accused of killing former Idaho governor Frank Steuenenberg in 1905.
He was requested in 1911 to speak on behalf of the McNamara Brothers, who are thought to have bombed the Los Angeles Times building on October 1, 1910. Darrow was accused of arranging a bribe for a potential juror in November 1911. He was attacked by the public for using bribes to get the brothers a less severe punishment even though he succeeded in saving them from the death penalty while not getting what he desired.
He was practically forced out of business as a labor lawyer in America due to his poor reputation among other lawyers, so he changed his focus to criminal defense. He consistently expressed his outspoken opposition to the “death penalty” and became well-known for his wit and persuasive testimony in court.
In 1924, he represented the teenage assassins Leopold and Loeb in the case of Bobby Franks, a fourteen-year-old boy who had been abducted. Both lads freely admitted to their misdeeds in the case that was dubbed the “trial of the century.” But Darrow made the decision to use his eloquence to influence both the general populace and the court. The lads were saved from certain death, but both received life sentences.
The “Scopes Monkey Trial,” the “Ossian Sweet” case, and the “Massie Trial” were among the notable cases he went on to defend.
He took part in the well-known “Mecca Temple Debate” in 1931 on the subject of “Will the World Return to Religion.” Darrow only garnered 1,022 votes, compared to his opponent’s 2,359 votes.
Darrow published a number of works throughout his lifetime, among them “Crime: Its Cause and Treatment,” “Persian Pearl,” “The Story of My Life,” “Resist Not Evil,” and “Marx vs. Tolstoy.” Although none of these books became huge sellers, they did recount his memories of his upbringing and his opinions on crime, politics, and the law. This contributed to his development as a prolific writer.
Personal Legacy & Life
He wed Jessie Ohl in 1880, and the two were blessed with a son. But they divorced in 1897, and he later wed Ruby Hammerston in 1903.
His pulmonary heart condition caused his death. He continues to be regarded as a fearless litigator in the annals of American criminal defense.
Many films, such as “Alleged” and “Darrow,” have included his life and works. His life has also been the subject of several plays, such as “Darrow,” “My Name is Ossian Sweet,” and “Inherit the Wind.”
Numerous books about his life have been written and released. These include “Clarence Darrow for Defense,” “The People v. Clarence Darrow,” “Compulsion,” and “The Angel of Darkness.”
Estimated Net Worth
Clarence is one of the wealthiest and most well-known lawyers. Our research of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider revealed that Clarence Darrow has a net worth of $5 million.