The final chapter in our look at the people involved in "The Murder Of Mary Phagan":
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"The Murder Of Mary Phagan"
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Thomas Edward Watson (September 5, 1856 – September 26, 1922), generally known as Tom Watson, was a United States politician from Georgia. In early years, Watson championed poor farmers and the working class; later he became a controversial publisher and a controversial Populist politician who supported the Ku Klux Klan. Two years prior to his death, he was elected to the United States Senate.
Through his publications Watson's Magazine and The Jeffersonian, Watson continued to have great influence on public opinion, especially in his native Georgia.
In 1913 he played a prominent role in inflaming public opinion in the case of Leo Frank, a Jewish American factory manager who was accused of the murder of Mary Phagan, a 13 year-old factory worker. Frank was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
On June 20, 1915, departing Governor of Georgia John M. Slaton commuted the sentence of Frank to life in prison. The decision followed a lengthy appeals process. Some viewed the action as a conflict of interest, as Slaton was a law partner of Frank's lead defense counsel, a fact which Watson made sure to emphasize.
On August 17, 1915, Frank was dragged from his prison cell by a group of men and lynched, an act which Watson had both called for and later celebrated on the pages of the Jeffersonian. Watson is honored with a twelve foot high bronze statue on the lawn of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta over the legend "A champion of right who never faltered in the cause."
He's probably roasting in Hell right now.....