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The discovery of the body of a thirteen-year-old girl in the basement of an Atlanta pencil factory where she had gone to collect her pay check shocked the citizens of that crime-ravaged southern city and roused its public officials to find a suspect and secure a conviction. Unfortunately, it now seems, events and the South's anti-Semitism conspired to lead to the conviction of the wrong man, the factory's Jewish superintendent, Leo Frank. The case ultimately drew the attention of the United States Supreme Court and the Governor of Georgia, but neither the Constitution nor a Governor's commutation could spare Frank a violent death at the end of rope strung from a Georgia oak tree


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On September 22,Atlanta newspapers reported four alleged assaults upon local white women, none of which were ever substantiated. The shock of the murder resonated throughout Atlanta and all of Georgia. Lucille Frank spent the rest of her life in Georgia, where she died in The best archive of information about the murder of Mary Phagan can be found at the Online Leo Frank Research Library, which has more than 10, documents about the case.

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Governor Slaton, to the dismay of the white Atlanta public, reviewed the case and decided to grant Frank clemency after finding the testimonies given during the trial to be false. With the racial divide between whites and blacks occupying such a prominent place in society, the Jewish community experienced little discrimination for most of the s.

The Atlanta press falsely report on four different black assaults on white women, drawing State militia guard to an intersection in downtown Atlanta. Multiple strikes were organized in response.

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The true story of Leo Frank is one that divided a post-Civil War America socially, politically, regionally and racially. He later moved to Atlanta to help supervise the National Pencil Factory, where his uncle was part owner.

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However, things went wrong when Mary fell against a machine in the room, dying instantly. With new evidence, such as hair found on Leo belonging to another girl that was not Mary, and a rescinded testimony from the brothel owner that Frank had never requested a room the day of the murder, Lucille was able to gain the attention of John M.

Slaton, the Governor of Georgia. Pictured: Lucille Selig Frank. Leading the trial against Frank was Solicitor Hugh Dorsey. Leo Frank then proceeded to ask Conley for help in disposing of the body. July 09, Leo Frank says. He also obtained testimony from other employees at the factory who claimed they saw Frank flirt with other female workers.

That began to change at the dawn of the 20th century. An affidavit from Nina Formby, the owner of a local brothel, stated that Frank made calls to her place of work on the day of the murder in an attempt to reserve a room for himself and a girl.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply. In the revised affidavit, Conley claimed that Leo Frank asked him to guard the door while he was alone with Mary. As blacks acquired more rights, wealth and education, white leaders of Atlanta expanded Jim Crow laws to maintain the racial divide amongst working class whites and blacks.

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Jews were then blamed for the use of child labor, the low wages and the grueling work hours. September After the end of the Civil War inthe state of Georgia was left in economic pieces and public morale was broken.

It unsettled the Jewish community in Atlanta, who no longer felt as safe as they ly had. The Leo Frank case revealed the deep rooted anti-Semitism that festered alongside racism in Atlanta and the country as a whole.

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Fears of continued disorder prompted white civic leaders to seek dialogue with black elites to lessen the racial divide. Need Help? It was there that he met Lucille Selig, a daughter of a prominent German Jewish family.

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To the top Close. On April 26,Mary Phagan, a thirteen-year-old employee of the Pencil Factory, went to receive her paycheck from Frank. Anti-Semitism and a resentment of Yankee northerners was clearly a motivating factor in the arrest. Later that night, Mary was found dead in the factory.

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A crowd of whites soon became a mob that disrupted and damaged black communities, leading to reportedly forty deaths of blacks in what is now known as The Atlanta Race Riots. Pictured: Leo Frank. However, inspired by these events, members of the Atlanta Jewish community created the Anti-Defamation League to fight future anti-Semitism.

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The largest strikes were against the Fulton Bag Factory, though those strikes ultimately failed in Leo Frank became a victim of this anti-Semitic hatred in one of the most famous court cases of the early 20th century. On November 30,the two married in an arranged marriage, typical of the times, and enjoyed a high social status amongst the Southern Jewish community. It stands as one of the first highly publicized cases of anti-Semitism in the United States.

This migration also led to blacks competing with white workers for jobs in booming factories.

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