The Greatest Lawyer in American History: Clarence Darrow


Alex tells the story of the most famous lawyer in American history, Clarence Darrow. We welcome an all-star cast of guests to discuss the sterling career of “the Attorney for the Damned.” We go through Darrow’s life and legal career and how the issues he tackled 100 years ago are still problems in modern America. Alex looks at Darrow’s three most famous cases in depth to reveal why many still consider Clarence Darrow to be America’s greatest defense attorney in Episode 6: “Ohio v. Lawyering”.

We welcome Pulitzer Prize winner, Ed Larson, author of Summer for the Gods, to discuss Darrow’s rise to fame from a small town, country lawyer in Northeast Ohio to the preeminent lawyer for the explosive labor movement. We discuss Ed’s award-winning book about Darrow’s most famous case, the Scopes Monkey Trial. Larson helps us understood why the case was so important in America’s continuing struggle between science and religion. Ed also discusses the landmark murder case of Leopold and Loeb, as Darrow battles against his lifelong nemesis, the death penalty. Buy Ed’s amazing book Summer for the Gods here

We sit down with Nadine Strossen, the former President of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008) about the birth of the ACLU and Darrow’s fight for Americans’ civil liberties. Nadine talks to us about the evolving nature of our Constitutional right to free speech in Darrow’s time and the ACLU’s role in the Scopes trial. Go buy Nadine’s wonderful book HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship.

Alex has a riveting discussion with Kevin Boyle about Darrow’s representation of the African American Dr. Ossian Sweet, accused of murder in Detroit in 1925. Kevin talks us through the system of Northern segregation that leads to the killing and how Darrow takes on the issues of white supremacy and racial justice in America. Kevin won the National Book Award for Non-fiction in 2004 for his book Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age, an absolute must read. Please purchase Arc of Justice here…

Lastly we are joined by friend of the show and excellent criminal defense attorney, Jon Saia from Columbus, Ohio. Jon joins the show to talk about Darrow’s early years as an attorney in Ohio, his eccentric lifestyle and the LA Times Bombing Case in 1911 that leads to Darrow being tried for allegedly attempting to bribe a jury.

Don’t forget Ohio v. the World is now part of the Evergreen Podcast Network. Check out all our past shows and the other great shows on their history channel by clicking

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