Leo Frank Trial (1913)

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.

The Murder that Shocked Georgia

Around 3 a.m. on April 27, 1913, Newt Lee, the night watchman for the National Pencil Factory, carried a lantern with him to the factory basement to help him light his way to the "Negro toilet." When his light fell upon a prone human form, Lee called Atlanta police, who arrived ten minutes later. The body was that of a thirteen-year-old girl. Her skull was dented and caked with blood. A piece of jute rope was wrapped around her neck. A worker at the factory called to the scene identified the body: "Oh my God! That's Mary Phagan!"....