Life Wasn’t Just For Leo Frank

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade August 2001

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Life Wasn't Just for Leo FrankLeo Frank was a Jewish man who lived and worked, as a superintendent and part owner of a pencil factory, in Atlanta in 1913. He was accused of murdering a 13-year-old Caucasian girl that worked at his factory. Though tried and convicted for the crime by a jury, the governor of Georgia eventually pardoned him due to overwhelming indications of innocence. Upon learning of the pardon, a lynch mob devised and carried out a plan to kidnap Frank from jail and bring him to the victims hometown, Marietta, to be hung. The book The Leo Frank Case, by Leonard Dinnerstein takes a look at the circumstances surrounding the murder, including the evidence, Frank's defense and public controversy.

Atlanta police had not had a very good record of solving murder cases, since in the two years prior to the case 18 black women had been murdered, and no one had been arrested.

(p. 16) Whether this was due to shabby detective work or to indifference of the victims, it is not clear, but the public was getting restless for someone to point the finger at for Phagans murder. In retrospect it would seem probable that the defense built their case around what information the police had found and on what they thought they could fabricate; much of which was questionable. The public was, unfortunately, ready to believe the tactics of Solicitor-General Dorsey who seemed to recently be having a bad record of his own convicting people and needed a conviction before he lost his position. (p.19) The first suspect, the factory's night watchman, was shackled to a chair for three days in order to get a confession. (p. 14) However, when the confession was not forthcoming and there was no evidence against him to be...