Wednesday, March 3, 2010
AS SEEN IN:
"The Murder of Mary Phagan"
AS PLAYED BY:
Leo Max Frank (April 17, 1884 – August 17, 1915) was an American man who became the only known Jew to be lynched on American soil. The manager of his uncle's pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia, Frank was convicted in the rape and murder of one of his factory workers, 13-year-old Mary Phagan. The case is widely regarded as having been a miscarriage of justice. It was the focus of many conflicting cultural pressures, and the jury's conclusion represented in part, class and regional resentment of educated Northern industrialists who were perceived to be wielding too much power in the South, threatening southern culture and morality.
The trial was sensationalized by the media. The Georgia politician and publisher Tom Watson used the case to build personal political power and support for a revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
Shortly after Frank's conviction, new evidence emerged that cast doubt on his guilt. After the governor commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment, Frank was kidnapped from prison and lynched by a group of prominent citizens who called themselves the "Knights of Mary Phagan." The mob was reported to have included the son of a senator, a former governor, lawyers, and a prosecutor.
In response to the Frank case, the Bnai Brith founded the Anti-Defamation League in 1913. Ultimately, in 1986, Georgia granted Frank a pardon.