The Leo Frank Case

The Leo Frank Case

The events surrounding the 1913 murder of the young Atlanta factory worker Mary Phagan and the subsequent lynching of Leo Frank, the transplanted northern Jew who was her employer and accused killer, were so wide ranging and tumultuous that they prompted both the founding of B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League and the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. The Leo Frank Case was the first comprehensive account of not only Phagan’s murder and Frank’s trial and lynching but also the sensational newspaper coverage, popular hysteria, and legal demagoguery that surrounded these events. Forty years after the book first appeared, and more than ninety years after the deaths of Phagan and Frank, it remains a gripping account of injustice. In his preface to the revised edition, Leonard Dinnerstein discusses the ongoing cultural impact of the Frank affair.

The Leo Frank Case

The Lynching of a Guilty Man

The Leo Frank Case


Screening a Lynching

The Leo Frank Case on Film and Television

Screening a Lynching

The Leo Frank case of 1913 was one of the most sensational trials of the early twentieth century, capturing international attention. Frank, a northern Jewish factory supervisor in Atlanta, was convicted for the murder of Mary Phagan, a young laborer native to the South, largely on the perjured testimony of an African American janitor. The trial was both a murder mystery and a courtroom drama marked by lurid sexual speculation and overt racism. The subsequent lynching of Frank in 1915 by an angry mob only made the story more irresistible to historians, playwrights, novelists, musicians, and filmmakers for decades to come. Matthew H. Bernstein is the first scholar to examine the feature films and television programs produced in response to the trial and lynching of Leo Frank. He considers the four major surviving American texts: Oscar Micheaux's film Murder in Harlem (1936), Mervyn LeRoy's film They Won't Forget (1937), the Profiles in Courage television episode "John M. Slaton" (1964), and the two-part NBC miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988). Bernstein explains that complex issues like racism, anti-Semitism, class resentment, and sectionalism were at once irresistibly compelling and painfully difficult to portray in the mass media. Exploring the cultural and industrial contexts in which the works were produced, Bernstein considers how they succeeded or failed in representing the case's many facets. Film and television shows can provide worthy interpretations of history, Bernstein argues, even when they depart from the historical record. Screening a Lynching is an engrossing meditation on how film and television represented a traumatic and tragic episode in American history-one that continues to fascinate people to this day.

The Leo Frank Case

The Controversial History of the Arrest and Trial of a Jewish Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder in the Early 20th Century

The Leo Frank Case

*Includes pictures *Includes excerpts of contemporary accounts *Includes a bibliography for further reading "The pathological conditions in the city menaced the home, the state, the schools, the churches, and, in the words of a contemporary Southern sociologist, the 'wholesome industrial life.' The institutions of the city were obviously unfit to handle urban problems. Against this background, the murder of a young girl in 1913 triggered a violent reaction of mass aggression, hysteria, and prejudice." - Leonard Dinnerstein, historian The Jim Crow South has been notorious for miscarriages of justice for decades, and cases like the Scottsboro Boys continue to be commemorated for the manner in which institutionalized racism ensured the wrongful convictions of minorities. The attention given to these cases raised nearly every potential issue implicating criminal procedure among the states. While the Bill of Rights had ensured a number of rights for criminal defendants, the states had previously been allowed to interpret those rights, leading to instances where defendants weren't provided adequate legal representation. For example, the case of the Scottsboro Boys compelled the U.S. Supreme Court to order new trials in Powell v. Arizona (1932), which went a long way to determining and codifying some of the rights of criminal defendants in state courts. However, blacks weren't the only ones discriminated against in the South, as the Leo Frank case made clear in the 1910s. While 20th century anti-Semitism has been (and often continues to be) viewed mainly as a problem in European countries like France and Germany, anti-Semitic hysteria led to one of the most shocking episodes of mob justice in early 20th century America. In 1913, Mary Phagan, a young Georgia factory girl and the daughter of tenant farmers, was raped and killed, and suspicion fell upon Leo Frank, the Jewish-American factory manager, who was subsequently arrested, tried, and convicted of her murder based on the thinnest of circumstantial evidence. The entire case against Frank rested on the testimony of the factory janitor, Jim Conley, despite the fact Conley had been arrested almost immediately after Frank when he was spotted washing what appeared to be blood off his clothes. Subsequent investigations determined that Conley had written notes found by Phagan's body, and Conley's testimony explained this extremely incriminating evidence away by claiming Frank had dictated the notes to him to write down before they moved the body to the location it was discovered. Modern historians now believe Conley committed the murder himself, but based on his testimony, Conley only received a sentence of one year for being an accomplice after the fact. The conviction was controversial enough in its day that Georgia Governor John M. Slaton commuted Frank's death sentence, which stirred up such a frenzy that a mob driven by their prejudices took what they saw as justice into their own hands. The result was a stark reminder of the roles that race, class, and religion played in the South during the beginning of the 20th century. The Leo Frank Case: The Controversial History of the Arrest and Trial of a Jewish Man Wrongly Convicted of Murder in the Early 20th Century examines the events that led up to the trial, how it was conducted, and the horrible aftermath. Along with pictures depicting important people, places, and events, you will learn about Leo Frank like never before.

Politics and Religion in the White South

Politics and Religion in the White South

Politics and Religion in the White South examines the powerful ways in which religious considerations have shaped American political discourse. Since the inception of the Republic, politics have remained a subject of lively discussion and debate. Although based on secular ideals, American government and politics have often been peppered with Christian influences. Especially in the mostly Protestant South, religion and politics have been nearly inextricable. This collection of thirteen essays from prominent historians and political scientists, including Mark K. Bauman, Charles S. Bullock III, Natalie M. Davis, Andrew M. Manis, Mark J. Rozell, and Clyde Wilcox, explores the intersection of religion, politics, race relations, and Southern culture from post–Civil War America to the present, when the religious right has begun to exercise a profound influence on the course of American politics.

An Unspeakable Crime

The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank

An Unspeakable Crime

Was an innocent man wrongly accused of murder? On April 26, 1913, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan planned to meet friends at a parade in Atlanta, Georgia. But first she stopped at the pencil factory where she worked to pick up her paycheck. Mary never left the building alive. A black watchman found Mary’s body brutally beaten and raped. Police arrested the watchman, but they weren’t satisfied that he was the killer. Then they paid a visit to Leo Frank, the factory’s superintendent, who was both a northerner and a Jew. Spurred on by the media frenzy and prejudices of the time, the detectives made Frank their prime suspect, one whose conviction would soothe the city’s anger over the death of a young white girl. The prosecution of Leo Frank was front-page news for two years, and Frank’s lynching is still one of the most controversial incidents of the twentieth century. It marks a turning point in the history of racial and religious hatred in America, leading directly to the founding of the Anti-Defamation League and to the rebirth of the modern Ku Klux Klan. Relying on primary source documents and painstaking research, award-winning novelist Elaine Alphin tells the true story of justice undone in America.

Murder at the Pencil Factory

The Killing of Mary Phagan 100 Years Later (A True Crime Short)

Murder at the Pencil Factory

From award winning criminologist R. Barri Flowers and the bestselling author of THE PICKAXE KILLERS and THE SEX SLAVE MURDERS, comes a powerful new historical true crime short, MURDER AT THE PENCIL FACTORY: The Killing of Mary Phagan 100 Years Later. On the afternoon of April 26, 1913, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan arrived at the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked, to pick up her paycheck. The next day, Mary’s bloody, battered, and bruised dead body was found in the basement of the pencil factory, the victim of foul play. The Jewish-American factory superintendent Leo Frank was arrested, tried, and convicted for the murder in a controversial trial. Frank himself became the victim of a lynch mob, when they broke him out of prison and hung him from a tree. But was Leo Frank truly guilty of Mary Phagan’s violent death? Or did the real killer get away with cold-blooded murder? Read this compelling tale of child murder, anti-Semitism, racism, and legal twists and turns that rival any true crime case today and decide for yourself. Included is a complete and riveting bonus story from the bestselling true crime book, SERIAL KILLER COUPLES, by R. Barri Flowers, in which ruthless killers Alvin and Judith Neelley abducted thirteen-year-old Lisa Millican from a mall in Rome, Georgia, and sexually violated, tortured, and murdered her. An added bonus is an excerpt from the author’s bestselling true crime short, THE PICKAXE KILLERS: Karla Faye Tucker and Daniel Garrett, who brutally murdered two people in a death penalty crime that shocked the nation.