|Has Georgia Condemned an Innocent Man
Frank Guilty of Murder or Has
Race Prejudice Blinded Justice?
"Caught as a
bird in a net"
The Kansas City Star
January 17, 1915
a Jew, graduate or Cornell
the B’Nai Brith of Atlanta, Ga., is under sentence of death in that
the murder of a 14-year-old girl who worked in a pencil factory of
which he was
Frank is 30
years old. His wife is a member of one
of the best Jewish families in Atlanta.
It is the
contention of Frank and his friends that he is innocent’ that there was
not any evidence that points to his guilt, or that even points the
suspicion to him; that the real murderer is a negro who gave the
convicted Frank; that the trial of Frank established beyond doubt the
the negro that the police and the newspapers of Atlanta well know this
true; but that the authorities and the newspapers of Atlanta were
goaded on by
public sentiment and a mob spirit to the sacrifice of Frank largely
was a Jew accused of murdering a Gentile girl.
friends contend that this racial prejudice and passion for his
dominated the court that condemned him, and that his trial was unfair;
jury knew it would be lynched had it acquitted him; that his same
prejudice spread throughout the state of Georgia and influenced the
court that denied him a new trial.
is in the supreme court of the United States.
If it refuses to interfere he will surely be hanged.
is attracting wide attention throughout the Northern states. Jewish men of greatest prominence have
interested themselves in his behalf, solely because they believe he is
and was convicted largely because of racial prejudice.
The case will go down in history as one of
the most remarkable in American jurisprudence.
a reported to Atlanta
to investigate the Frank case, to learn if his trail measured up to the
American standard of fair play to which every man accused of crime is
no matter what his race, creed or condition in life.
in his investigation, paid no heed to gossip or rumor.
He went for his facts to the court records
and to newspaper files.
By A. B.
was 14 years old. She was unusually
attractive. She had appeared as “The
Sleeping Beauty” in a play in her church. Everyone
in her neighborhood liked her. Mary lived
in a suburb of Atlanta
and worked in a pencil factory downtown. She
operated a machine that put metal tips on
April 26, 1913, was a holiday. It was
“Confederate Day,” when the veterans of the Southern army paraded and
the graves of fallen comrades. That
morning Mary’s mother dressed the girl in a new gown and tied new
on the braids of her golden hair that fell below her waist. and sent
town to see the parade.
worked only one day that week, Monday, because the factory had run out
pencil tips, and she had $1.20 in wages coming to her.
She went first to the factory to get her
money. Saturday was the regular pay day, but this being a holiday the
help had been paid Friday, and the factory was closed.
Mary did not know that until she reached the
She went in
the front door, which opens of the sidewalk, went in to the foot of a
and up it to the second floor, where Leo M. Frank was busy on the
to catch up with his work. She asked him
for her pay envelope; he gave it to her from the safe, and, he says,
out turning at the office door to ask him if the metal for the tips had
come. He answered “No,” and went on with
his work. He says he heard her footsteps
go down to the head of the stairway. A
little later he thought he heard a woman’s voice, but was not sure.
seen alive again.
morning, at 3 o’clock, Newt Lee, negro night watchman in the pencil
found the body of the murdered girl in the rear end of the basement of
pencil factory. Her face was so
blackened with ashes, cinders and blood that he could not tell whether
a white girl or a negress. He called the
police by telephone and told them.
got that there first could only tell that she was a white girl by
dress and looking at her knee, the cinders of the cellar had been so
into her face and hands. Her mouth and
nose were filled with ashes which she had breathed in her struggle for
life. Cinders were packed beneath her
seem to indicate that she had been killed in the basement, which was
and covered with cinders and ashes form the boiler.
side of her head was a long gash made with a club or by falling against
sharp cornered thing. It ripped the
scalp open and the blood that flowed from it had matted her hair, but
doctors agreed that while this blow stunned her is would not have
strangled to death. The murderer had
first torn a strip form her underskirt and wrapped it around her face
probably as a gag, and had then looped a cord around her neck and drawn
tightly that her tongue protruded.
girl’s undergarments was torn open on the seam from the bottom of its
almost to the waistline.
established at the trial that she had not been outraged.
There were no wounds except the one upon the
body were two noted written upon in lead pencil in a scrawl that was
with difficulty. The pad from which one
of the papers was torn, and the pencil with which it was written, lay
One of the
notes, with two words stricken out read:
that negro hire down here did this
I went to make water and
he push me down that hole a long tall
negro black that hoo it was, long sleam
tall negro. I wright
while play with me.
said he wood love me, laid down,
play like the night witch did it, but that long all
black negro did buy his self.
boiler, several feet from the body, one of the girl’s slippers and her
found. But the bunch of red flowers was
gone from here hat and it and her mesh bag and pay envelope were never
of Mary Phagan had escaped by the back door of the basement which
an alley. He had pried off the lock and
staple with a piece of iron pipe, and there were bloody fingers prints
door where he had laid his hand upon it to slide it back.
the public hysteria which followed the discovery of Mary Phagan’s body,
must know that there had been a series of mysterious murders in Atlanta. There had been a “Jack the Ripper” who went
about tat night slashing women with a sharp blade.
He was never discovered. Several
murders had been done, and the
mysteries unsolved. The police were in bad repute.
another murder, more revolting and pitiful than any that had gone
as the horror of it grew, so grew the public frenzy and the demand the
find the murderer. The newspapers of
Monday after the body of Mary was found said that ten thousand persons
surrounded the morgue where her body lay, and they clamored for
done at noon, on a main street, in the heart of the business section,
black from the office of the Atlanta Constitution.
While the girls as being strangled to death
persons must have passed on the sidewalk only a few feet away.
boldness of the crime added fuel to the public delirium and the demand
police to find the murderer.
police, in their eagerness to solve the mystery, went at it in a
floundering way. This is proved by the
fact that at first they attached no importance to the noted they by the
body. There actually given to a newspaper
to copy and then thrown into a wastebasket, but were afterward
recovered. And yet, everyone knew now, and
detective would have known then, that to find the murderer it was only
necessary to find the man who wrote the notes.
A few hours
after the girl’s body was found the police took Frank to the
identify her if he could. He was
suddenly aroused in his home and taken without breakfast to a dark
light was flashed on and he saw the girl found murdered in the cellar
factory and murdered, too, while he was in the factory.
He was nervous.
The news of
his nervousness spread over the city, magnified an hundred fold as it
mouth to mouth, Frank had lived in Atlanta
four years, coming there from Brooklyn. This “sweat-shop Jew, employer of the white
girls of the South.” was nervous when confronted with the body of one
“white-slaves” found strangled to death in his factory.
They said he would not look at her, that he
hung back and dodged into a side room, that he trembled and shook.
evidence of his guilt then. It was the
principal evidence, outside of a negro’s testimony, at his trial.
And yet it
proved at the trial that he did go a second time to the morgue, alone,
examine for himself the rope about her neck.
out during the trial they aid he went there to gloat over his victim.
nervousness that Sunday morning was his first undoing.
His calm demeanor during the trail was one of
the damning things against him, emphasized by the prosecution.
on a Saturday, Frank was arrested Monday, the two chief points against
being his nervousness at the morgue and that he as the last person
have seen the girls alive.
No one, as
had attached any importance to the notes found by the body. The police were busy upon one theory
only—that Frank was guilty.
called upon the police to find the murderer or quit their jobs. The Atlanta Constitution printed on its first
page a cartoon with Atlanta
as a woman pointing at a door marked “Detective Department” and saying:
wonder if they are all asleep in there.”
screamed. The most incredible stories
were told, the city was in a delirium.
you now in Atlanta
that there was no prejudice against Frank because he was a Jew.
Magazine, with a wide circulation in Georgia, reviewed the Leo
case in its January issue of this year, 1915. From
that article is taken the following extract:
down form New York,
to take charge of a factory where young Gentile girls worked for
Hebrews, at a
wage scale of $5 to $6 a week.
a typical young Jewish man of business who loves pleasure, and runs
Gentile girls. Every student of
sociology knows that the black man’s lust after the white woman is not
fiercer than the lust of eh licentious Jew for the Gentile.
reared in the environment of “the gentleman friend,” whose financial
necessary to the $5-a-week girl. he
lived many years in that atmosphere. he
came in contact with the young women who are paid the $5-a-week, and
expected to clothe themselves, find decent lodgings, and pay doctor’s
the regular wage of $5 a week.
what this system meant to the girls. In
fact, we all know what it means, but we don’t like to say so.
McKelway analyzed the crime for the newspapers of Atlanta and wrote: “If children of
tender years were not forced to work in sweatshops Mary Phagan might
have been full of that sort of argument since the day Frank was
outrageous stories about him have been printed and told, and are yet
, in an article written for an Augusta paper appealing against any
with the death penalty, a former governor of Georgia spoke of the
crime” committed against Mary Phagan.
everywhere that she was outraged. But
the evidence at the trial proves that she was not.
mention all the stories that were told, and are yet told, would fill a
newspaper, and all of them were false. They
said that the assailant of Mary Phagan had
stabbed her body in many
places with a knife, a Durant had done to his victim in the church
tower in San Francisco.
mutilation at all on the body,” was the testimony of W. II. Ghoosling,
Dr. J. W.
Hurt, county physician, testified: “There was no lacerations, no
the body. I found no signs of outrage.”
told, then and now, and believed, that Frank drank heavily: that he had
one wife in Brooklyn and that he had
children born out of wedlock.
cruel story of all was that Frank was a pervert. This
is believed everywhere to this day in Georgia, but
there has never been a word of proof of it, and a reward of $5,000 has
offered for proof that Frank was ever guilty of one act of perversion,
or even immorality. Detectives have
followed his trail form
schoolboy days up to now, and not one act or word that would reflect
his good character has eve been found. If
it had been found it would have been produced
against him at his
of the files of the newspapers of Atlanta
in the days between his arrest and conviction show in what manner they
fire of slander and falsehood against Frank. A
day or two after his arrest flaming headlines told
how a man had
caught Frank with a girl in Druid Hill woods and how Franks had begged
off. The author of this story posed for
his picture, which was a first page sensation that day.
Yet a day
two later the man who told the story pointed out a young lawyer as the
Formby woman’s affidavit, which was heralded in the papers. She kept a disreputable house and swore that
on the evening of the murder Frank telephoned her frantically that he
room” he had a young girl and “it was a matter of life and death.”
version of this story, circulated on the streets, was that after Frank
the girl he carried her in a sack to this woman’s house, but she made
it out again, and he took the body back to his factory.
proved that at the time the woman said Frank telephoned her he was at a
party in his own home, that his telephone was in plain hearing of his
that his telephone was on a system different from that in the woman’s
and he could not have telephoned her if he wished to.
repudiated here affidavit and made another in which she swore that the
who had here in their power plied her with liquor and got her to swear
first one incrimination Franks. But the
story had already done its part in creating prejudice against Frank.
The air was
filled with a welter of rumors which continued to grow and spread. He as a rich Jew, they said, although the
fact was proved at this trial that his salary was only $15 a month, and
invalid father had to mortgage his home for money to hire lawyers to
One of the
stories, believed everywhere in Georgia,
is that for a week after Frank’s arrest his wife did not go near him,
the reason was she knew he was guilty. Added
to this was the rumor that she had already
consulted a lawyer
about suing him for divorce before the murder.
that the very moment Mrs. Frank learned of her husband’s arrest she
the police station, but was advised by her pastor, Rabbi Marx, to
return to her
home. He told her Frank would be out
before night. In proof of this the
following paragraph is taken form the Atlanta Constitution of that day:
her husband was being sweated
by the detectives, the beautiful young wife
of the factory superintendent, tearful and anxious, came to police headquarters. She was
accompanied by friends. Denied admission
to the floor on which her husband
sat, she was led, weeping
bitterly, into “the probation officer’s room. Frank was not
aware of her presence at police
station.” When Frank
taken to the jail she was there at the door waiting for him. She has been with him every day since,
throughout the trial and all.
of public hysteria Minola McKnight, servant in the home of Frank’s
father-in-law, where Frank and his wife lived, made an affidavit in
said that the night after Mary Phagan was murdered Frank told his wife
up and get his revolver, he had got in trouble with a girl at the
intended to kill himself, and that he forced his wife that night to
first pages of the newspapers, caused tremendous excitement and
But at the
trial Mrs. McKnight testified that none of this was true.
She said the police arrested her, took in the
patrol wagon to headquarters and made her sign the affidavit.
if I didn’t sign it they were going to keep me locked up.
That man there (indicating) and that man made
me sign it,” is her testimony taken from the court record of the trial.
Epps, told that he rode to town with Mary on the street car the day she
murdered and she told him Frank had made advance to her and she was
him. This was a newspaper sensation,
too, but later it was proved beyond doubt that Epps lied, and even the
had to say so. They sent him to the
a few of the stories now admitted to be false, circulated against Frank
those days of excitement. They fixed the
crime upon him in the public mind. The
was ready to believe anything bad about this Jew from the North who
their girls. They forgot all of his past
good character and saw him only as a fiend. There
were too frenzied, too much controlled by
bitter hate to sift the
false from the true and see the inconsistencies in the framework of
being built up against Frank.
important to know that Frank himself was the first one to tell the
he was at work in his factory office and that Mary came to him for her
noon that Saturday. He concealed
nothing. He made a full statement to the
police Sunday morning of all his movements that day.
He repeated that statement to the police
Monday and it was put in writing. He
made it again under oath at the inquest that week and the newspapers
it. He told it again to the court and
jury in his trial, and, note this, it was the same story from beginning
end. When he came to trial it was not
necessary for him to change even a minute of the times and incidents of
story as he first gave it under the stress of excitement that Sunday
when the police came to his home, before breakfast, before he was
fist broke the news to him that a girl had been found murdered in his
One of the
first things that Frank did in the week following the murder was to
factory owners to hire a Pinkerton detective to help the police find
murderer. This was used against him, as
an evidence of his guilt. But it was
proved that Frank said to the detective: “You find the murderer, not
It was also
told, and generally believed, that at first Frank tried to run
Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, and to J.M. Gantt, a workman he had
discharged for being short on his accounts.
records show that the police first suspected Lee and arrested him and
Frank did and said nothing to throw suspicion upon him.
Frank had given orders to his men to keep
Gantt out of the factory. Gantt had come
to the factory the Saturday of the murder and met Frank on the sidewalk
was leaving for the day and asked permission to go up into the factory
a pair of shoes he had left there: Frank did not want him to go in, but
let him go with Lee, the watchman, and cautioned Lee to watch him and
him until he came out.
this in his statement to the police and they arrest Gantt.
argument made by those who believe Frank is guilty is this:
Frank tell that Jim Conley was at the factory that Saturday of the
murder. He concealed that fact, which
Conley helped him carry the body from the second floor to the cellar,
Frank was trying to steer the police away from Conley.”
argument everywhere you go in Georgia.
records prove it is not true. Frank did
not know that Conley was at the factory that day. Conley
had no business there. He was a roustabout
and sweeper. The factory was shut down.
Conley is a
dissolute, degraded, brutal person. By
his own testimony he as drunk that day, and he went to the factory to
off. He went in the street door and hid
among some empty boxes piled between and behind the elevator and the
going up to the second floor. More than
twenty men and women entered and departed from the factory that day and
see him. One woman and two men saw him
lurking there in the shadows. Frank says
he did not know he was there. Outside of
Conley’s own testimony there is no evidence that Frank did know it. He had no reason to suspect Conley.
arrested Thursday after the murder. A
foreman to the factory saw him washing stains from his shirt. Conley said they were rust stains. The man notified the police, and Conley was
importance was attached to the arrest is shown by the newspaper mention
it. The Atlanta Journal had a mere line
about it, away down in a mass of stuff about the case saying: “The detectives will hold him until a
chemical analysis is made of the stain on his shirt, which he says is
rust. The police believe his story.”
Georgian said about the same. The
Constitution mentioned it on the second page and said:
“Little importance is attached to his
the police he could not write and the police believed him and went on
up evidence against Frank.
days thereafter the name of Conley does not appear in a newspaper of Atlanta, and in
eighteen days Conley, simply lounged in his cell while the storm
satisfied the public that they had caught the murderer.
They were giving interviews to the newspapers
that were printed with big headlines.
Here are a
of those headlines, printed in big type clear across the front page:
Sufficient Evidence to Convict the Murderer, Say Detectives.”
Against Frank Conclusive, Say Police.”
They Have Frank in the Net.”
statement that he could hot write was not printed in any paper. There is no reason to believe that Frank knew
Conley had denied it. The police believe
Conley. But there were to detectives,
Whitfield and McWorth, who saw that the two murder notes were the crux
case and they set out quietly to find out who wrote them.
They went to the pencil factory and the girls
there told them Conley could write. They
had seen him write.
there had suspected Conley from the first, and two days after the
accused him of it. They were more astute
than the police. Note the testimony of
Miss Mary Pirk, given at the trial: “I
am one of the foreladies at the factory. I
am head of the polishing department. I
have been there ___ years. I
talked with Jim Conley Monday morning after the murder.
I accused him of the murder. He
took his ____ and walked right away. I
mentioned ____ to several of the girls
testimony of Miss Dora _____ who accused Conley Tuesday after the
he acted so different.” He borrowed money from her ____ which to buy
newspapers, and sat around reading of the murder, _____he had on a
“buttoned close to the neck” as if to hide his shirt when he had always
around open before.”
McWorth, convinced that Conley could write, went to Frank in his cell
Conley could write, he doesn’t deny it, does he?” said Frank. He told them where they could find specimens
of his writing. Conley had bought a
watch on installment payments, and the collector used to call weekly to
office to collect a dollar out of Conley’s pay.
“You go to
that watch dealer and see if Conley didn’t sign a contract for the
Frank. The detectives found it and
confronted Conley with it Sunday, May 18. Conley
then admitted that he could write. But
denied that he had written the notes or
that he was in or near the factory the day of the murder.
The police made him write the words in the
note, it was the same handwriting: anyone could see that.
But the police concealed that fact from the
reporters saw the detectives busy with Conley and suspected something,
next day had some mention in their papers of it. But
the police continued to deny that
anything of importance had occurred.
police had evolved and give out a theory that Frank had killed the girl
metal room in the rear end of the second floor and had carried her body
elevator to the cellar. Around this
theory they had woven a web of evidence. They
had found a big “splotch of blood like a
sunburst” in front of the
girl’s dressing room on that floor, a splotch that turned out afterward
red paint. They had found on the handle
of a lathe on that floor three strands of hair, which they said was
hair, although it disappeared before the trial. The
coroner’s jury had recommended that Frank be
held for the murder,
and, on May 24 the grand jury indicted Frank for murder.
grand jury indicted Frank the police and prosecutor had positive proof
Conley had written the two murder notes, and had a confession from him
had written them, but this evidence was withheld form the grand jury,
knew nothing of it when it indicted Frank. Later
on the grand jury learned these facts and it
wanted to return an
indictment against the negro, Jim Conley, but the prosecution induced
not to do it, assuring it that he had positive evidence of Frank’s
police and prosecutor center their efforts upon a conviction of Frank
the preponderance of evidence pointed to his guilt?
When the negro, Conley, confessed that he
wrote the murder notes, and that he carried the body into the basement,
not the authorities abandon the theory that Frank was guilty and
questions have often been asked, and used as an argument of Frank’s
guilt. It would have been easier to
negro after he confessed: that was the easy route to follow. The evidence all tends to prove the guilt of
the negro and to prove the innocence of Frank. Why
did not the authorities follow the easier road?
had been appointed solicitor general to succeed a man who died. Later Dorsey had been elected to the
office. The solicitor general has the
same duties in Georgia
the prosecution attorney has in Missouri. It
was Dorsey’s duty to prosecute the
murderer of Mary Phagan if he was found.
Dorsey is a
young man. He was a good civil lawyer,
but was not experienced in criminal cases. His
friends advised him not to take the office of
solicitor general. They predicted that he
would fall there.
and ambitious and a bull dog in tenacity. When
he takes hold he never lets go. His chance
to make good came when Mary Phagan was
murdered. Here was an opportunity to make
reputation, and he grasped it. He took
hold of the case himself right after the murder, working with the
detectives, getting statements from all the witnesses, preparing the
no doubt that Dorsey believed during the first eighteen days after the
that Frank was guilty. He went after him
with all the intensity of his nature. He
gave out interviews and the newspapers printed them.
Frank Is First In the Net.”
headlines that appeared ever long interviews with Dorsey.
time the police discovered that Conley had written the murder notes
Felder, a clever lawyer and politician, and a political enemy of the
department, came out in a public statement charging that the police had
bought up by “Jew money.” This was the beginning of the cry about “Jew
money.” It has never ceased.
the feeling against Frank was at its height. The
public, clamoring for vengeance for the murder
of the little
Southern girl, had pounced upon Frank as a tiger upon its prey. Felder charged, and al the papers printed it,
that the public was about to be cheated of its prey.
He made the direct public charge that the
police had been bought by “Jew money from the North,” and , that they
seeking to extort a confession from Jim Conley, a poor harmless negro.
the public mind. The atmosphere, already
charged with a cloud of blood, became surcharged. There
was imminent fear that a mob would
storm the jail and lynch Frank. The
public did not want Conley. The dramatic
sense of the people would have been deeply offended by the discovery
their baiting of this Jew as wrong and that a negro was the murderer. They would not listen to that.
There was no man in the police department big
enough to face that storm. Anyway, the
police had gone too far to draw back now. To have admitted no grave an
such blundering at this state would have been political and official
for the police, and for Dorsey, too. They
had to “stand pat” and they did. Dorsey
quieted the public uneasiness around by
Felder’s charge with a
statement to the newspapers, which appeared in the Georgian under this
“Dorsey says the state’s case is complete and will not be changed: he
into the trial with Frank and not the negro as the accused.”
a bitter fight between Dorsey, alone on one side, and two of the ablest
oldest lawyers in Georgia
on the other side. They made the mistake
of sneering at Dorsey and his inexperience and youthfulness. They called him “sonny” and “young man.” They aroused his ire and his determination to
win over them. He fought, as a tiger
fights at bay, to convict Frank and thus win fame.
Their Third Degree
go outside the court record of the trial of Leo Frank to prove that the
evidence against him was “framed up.” And
it was such a clumsy “frameup,” so full of
“airholes” that a man accused of murder would never have been brought
under it in ordinary times.
statement made by Jim Conley, the negro, written by the police at his
dictation, and signed by him, is a part of the court record. It was made May 18. In
it he tells of drinking hard all day, the
day Mary Phagan was murdered, and says he was not at the pencil factory
that up to this time the police did not know he could write.
statement, also a part of the court record, was made May 24. At this time it was known that Conley could
write and that his handwriting was exactly like that in the notes. In this sworn statement he admitted that he
wrote one of the murder notes, at Frank’s dictation, and Frank wrote
one, not on the day of the murder, but the day before.
He says in this statement that Frank was
planning murder and got him to write “A long, tall, black negro did
himself,” to throw suspicion on a negro, and that Frank said: “Why
statement was May 28, and in this he admitted that he was at the
day of the murder, that Frank had him there to watch while he was with
on the floor above, that he saw several persons go up as he sat in the
at the foot of the stairway, that he saw Mary Phagan go up, and that a
later Frank called him up, told him he had hit the girl and hurt her,
the found her dead and helped Frank carry her to the elevator and put
the basement. He said he wrote both
notes at Frank’s dictation.
May 29, he amended his statement to conform to certain facts with which
inconsistent, and at the trial he still further corrected it so that
he said might fit the theory of the prosecution as to how the crime was
detective, testified at the trial, and explained how he and other
officers worked upon Conley to make him give statements that would
theory of the police that Frank was guilty. The
following extracts from Scott’s testimony are
from the official
record of the trail:
talked very strongly to him. We used a
little profanity and cursed him. He was
carried to Dorsey’s office and went
over his statement with Dorsey. We had
him again May 27 in Chief Lanford’s office. He
tried to impress him with the fact that Frank
would not have written
those notes Friday. That was not a
reasonable story. That showed
premeditation and that would not do. We
pointed out to him why the first statement would not fit.
We told him we wanted another statement. May 28 Chief Lanford grilled him five or six
hours again, endeavoring to make clear several points that were
his statement. We pointed out to him
that his statement would not do and would not fit.
May 29 we talked with him almost all day. We pointed out things in his story that were
improbable and told him he must do better that that.
Anything in his story that looked to be out
of place we told him wouldn’t do.”
And so on.
police kept after Conley, coaching him and pressing him until his
fitted in with every theory of the police as to how Frank killed the
he was drilled in that until he had the story so perfect that he could
it off glibly, as he did at the trial.
lasted thirty days. It was held in
August, in a small courtroom, the windows of which on one side opened
street, and on the other opened on an alley. The
mob dominated the trial. There can be no
doubt about that.
a new trial certified to by the trail judge as correct in its
many instances of loud and continuous applause by the spectators when
ruling adverse to Frank was made, or when a point was made against him. There were sneers and hisses, the
demonstrations always being against Frank. The
judge refused at any time to clear the
courtroom, although requested
many times by Frank’s attorneys to do so.
street outside as always filled with a mob through which the jury was
daily, and through which Frank was taken daily by armed guard,
It was a
mob. Some reviewers of the trial have
said there were cries to the jury of “Hang the Jew or we will hang you.”
There is no
proof that this occurred, but it is true that the spirit of the mob
upon the jury and the court, and that the jurors knew their lives would
danger if they acquit ed Frank. The
judge knew it and aid so.
of the methods of the prosecution in creating an impression upon the
following is the from the verbatim report of the trial:
Chambers, a youth of 15 years of age, questioned by Mr. Dorsey:
You and Frank were pretty good
friends, weren’t you?
Well, just like a boss ought to be
What was it that Frank tried to get you to do that you told Gantt about
I never did complain to Mr. Gantt.
What proposition, was it that Mr. Frank made to you and told you he was
to turn you off
didn’t do what he wanted you to?
He never made any proposition to me.
Do you deny that you talked to Mr. Gantt and told him about these
proposals that Frank would make to you and told you he would turn you
unless you did what eh wanted you to do?
I never did tell Gantt anything of that sort.
Didn’t Frank tell you he was going to turn you off unless you would
to do with what he wanted to do?
Arnold, attorney for Frank, moved the rule out questions and answers. Dorsey reports: “We
are entitled to show the relations
existing between this witness and Frank, your honor.”
replies: “It is a vile slander and fatigues the indignation to all here
hear things like this suggested. No man
can get a fair trial with such innuendos and insinuations as these made
“That is all I wanted to ask him. I will
bring Gantt in to impeach him.”
not brought in to impeach him, and this prejudicial insinuation of
perversion must have had its effect on the jury.
many such broad insinuation, but no proof outside the testimony of the
Conley. There is not one word of
testimony that Frank was pervert beyond Conley’s statements.
who worked in the factory were put on the stand by the state, and each
asked the same questions, if they knew the reputation of Frank for
“Is it good
lawyers did not cross-examine them because under the law those girls
told all they had ever heard or read, all the false rumors, and that
mess would have been dumped into the courtroom.
factory girls testified that they had seen Frank grin at the girls and
flirt with them. Several afterward made
affidavits that their testimony was false.
To be fair,
anyone who reads the record must admit that Frank’s character was not
at the trial. Many witnesses, including
those who had known him at school and in Atlanta,
testified to his high character.
Under the Georgia
man cannot testify in his own behalf, not can his wife testify for him
charged with homicide. Frank made a long
statement to the jury, and the papers said it brought tears to many
negro was almost three days on the witness stand. He
was dressed in a new suit. He talked
glibly, contradicted himself often then laughed and admitted he lied.
ay hear it said that Conley must have told the truth because Luther Z.
one of the best lawyers in that state, failed to break him down on
cross-examination. It is true that he
did no force, the negro to get upon his knees and confess that he
but he did tangle Conley, and trip him and make him confess himself to
liar over and over.
It was not
evidence that convicted Frank. It was
the mob and Dorsey’s speech to the jury.
for three days. His speech has been
printed in a pamphlet for distribution. The
speech was an appeal to the prejudices of the jurors and the mob, as
anyone may see who wished to
it. At the outset he attacked Frank as
Jew in these words:
Becker wished to put to death his
bitter enemy, it was men of Frank’s race he selected. Abe Hummel, the
who went to the penitentiary in New York;
Schwartz, the man accused of stabbing a girl in New York, who committed suicide; and
that I could mention, show that this great people are amenable to the
as you and I and the black race. They
rise to heights sublime, but they sink to the depths of degradation.”
the Durant case, and likened it Frank’s case to his, and to other lust
to the case of Oscar Wilde, and other perverts.
He spoke of
Judas Iscariot. He denounced Frank as
“lust murderer: and a degenerate. He
said Frank’s wife had not visited him because she knew he was guilty
ravisher of young girls. He even
conveyed to the jury by the following innuendo the passion of the mob,
threat of its vengeance if it should acquit him:
I tell you
Frank knew, and you know that there would have been men who would have
up in this town, had that little girl lived to tell of that brutal
that would have run over ten thousand men like you, would have stormed
or done anything.”
had eaten cabbage for luncheon the day of her murder, and the
cabbage was taken from her stomach after death and shown in a bottle to
jury to try and fix by it the exact time she was killed.
One doctor testified that she must have died
within an hour afterward, otherwise the cabbage would have been
digested. Several doctors testified that
proved nothing of the kind, because it often takes from three to five
the jury Frank’s lawyers brushed aside the cabbage testimony as of no
Mr. Rosser says he don’t care
anything about cabbage, I’m not going back on my raising here or
I tell you, gentlemen, that there is no better, no more a wholesome
cabbage. I tell you gentlemen of the
jury, that cabbage, corn bread and buttermilk is good enough for any
so on, making it appear that Rosser had sought to slur poor little Mary
because her humble meal had consisted of cabbage and corn bread.
Such a mob
surrounded the courtroom on Saturday while Dorsey was speaking that the
of the three newspapers of Atlanta,
supposing that the case would to the jury that day, joined in a written
to Judge Roan to not permit a verdict to be returned that day, as they
mob violence in any event.
carried his speech over into Monday, and when he finished it the crowd
a cheer and lifted Dorsey upon shoulders and carried him in triumph in
Amid such a
scene the jury retired to consider a verdict.
called Frank’s lawyers to him. He told
them it would be unsafe for Frank or either of them to be in the
the verdict was returned. He told them
he feared the mob would kill them, and he advised them to stay away. Frank’s lawyers agreed, if Judge Roan would
poll the jury. The judge promised he
would do so.
sent for E.E. Pomeroy, colonel of the local militia, and warned him to
militia ready to put down a riot.
all in the court record, certified as correct by the judge himself,
lawyers say, but it is not in the record that Judge Roan asked of them
time: “What do you think the verdict will be.” “Guilty,
of course,” replied Mr. Rosser.
Judge Roan. “If Christ and his angels
came down here and showed this jury that Frank was innocent, it would
find him guilty, and the crowd of thousands set up such a cheering that
Roan, as he certified, could not hear the responses of the jurors as an
was made to poll them.
his cell a half mile away, and not a lawyer representing him was in
the verdict was returned.
the prosecution is that Mary Phagan entered the front door of the
diagram) at 12:05 o’clock, that she went up the stairway to its head
and turned and went to where Frank sat at his desk (fig. 3), Frank got
envelope from the safe and gave it to her and she went back to the
two hundred feet, Frank followed her, and assaulted her, she screamed,
either hit here with something or knocked her head against something,
fell unconscious at the point marked “3” on the diagram.
Frank tore a strip from her underskirt,
gagged her, went to the front of the factory and got a cord and looped
around her neck. Then he went to the
head of the stairway (3) and called Conley, who was sitting on a box at
(1). Conley went up, Frank trembling,
excited, “shaking all over,” told him he
had hurt the girl back there. Conley
went, looked at her, returned, told Frank she was dead and Frank told
must take her into the basement and burn her. Conley
lifted her and
carried her to (6), where she fell with a heavy thump to the floor. Conley went up front again, got a cloth,
wrapped her body in it, “tying the four corners like a bundle of
he at her head, and Frank at her foot, carried her to the elevator. Conley dumped here in on the elevator floor,
Frank started the elevator, they took her to the basement, Frank
elevator and standing astride the body. Arrived
there Conley carried her on his shoulder
back 175 feet to (12),
where her body was found later.
Then he and
Frank returned by the elevator to the second floor and went into
office, Frank sitting at (15), Conley at (16). They
had quite an extended conversation. Frank
looked out the window and exclaimed: “My God,
here comes Emma
Clark and Quiney Hall. Get in this
wardrobe, damn it quick.”
in the wardrobe (17), Conley heard the two women come in and the
between them and Frank, and after they departed Frank let him out, gave
cigarette and lighted one himself, gave him $200 to pay him to come
and burn the body, and then took it back again, promising to pay after
is burned. Then Frank and Conley wrote
two notes found with the body, and Conley went away.
Conley’s testimony, in brief, and that is the testimony upon which
Now, to do
of that would take considerable time. After
Conley had told that story several detectives
and newspaper men
took Conley to the factory and had him enact the thing all out in
and repeating all the conversations. Conley
moved and talked rapidly in acting this
pantomime, and it took
forty minutes. That was the testimony at
the trail. In reason it could not have
been done in less time.
the testimony at the trial shows that Frank worked at the factory six
day of the murder. Several members of
the office force were with him part of the morning.
More than twenty persons saw and talked with
him in the factory that day. He was
under observation every moment of the time except for a very brief
This is not
mere theory. It is proved by the
testimony at the trail of all the persons who saw him, and the
statements are taken from the official brief of the testimony filed
supreme court of Georgia
and certified by the trial judge as correct. Anyone
may confirm the truth of them by consulting
must have been murdered between 12:15 and 12:30 o’clock. Both the
and the defense agree on that. The time
she arrived at Frank’s office is well known. Her
mother and the street car men, who knew her
well, testified that she
took the 11:45 car from home. The Carmen
testified she got off at 12:07: it was a 5-minute walk to the factory. Frank says she arrived at 12:15, got her money
and went right out of his office.
She was not
there at 12:02 when Miss Hattie Hall, the stenographer, left the office.
important that this testimony about the time be carefully considered by
person who cares to learn who killed Mary Phagan, and whether the state
about to hang an innocent man. It tends
to prove that Frank could not have killed her, and that Conley did kill
alone and unaided.
witnesses testified that they saw Frank in his office that day. Each of them differ radically from Conley
while all of the nineteen reasonably agree with each other. Nine were witnesses for the entire state and
two for the defense.
testimony fixes every move made by Frank that day, with the exception
or ten minutes and is that brief interval between 12:12 or 12:15 and
o’clock, a period of ten minutes at the most, Frank and Conley must
enacted the crime, if the prosecution is correct in its theory.
All of that
day Harry Deaham and Arthur White were making repairs on the top floor. They were there when Conley says Frank
murdered Mary, and a stairway led down to within a few feet of where
says Frank killed her, at Figure 3. This
was proven and admitted by the prosecution.
that as he sat on a box at the foot of the stairway (fig. 1) he saw
go up and she was followed almost immediately by Miss Monteen Stover.
testified that she arrived at exactly 12:05, for her pay, that she did
Frank in the office; she waited five minutes and left at 12:10.
She did not
see Conley at the stairway; not one of
the nineteen witnesses saw him, except three who testified they saw a
there, but were not sure it was Conley, as it was dark back there.
that Miss Stover’s testimony would contradict Frank, who said he was
not out of
his office between 12 and 12:30 o’clock. But
it is a double office. Frank’s desk was in
the inner office, the safe was
open, it is a tall
safe and its large door, standing open, would almost cover the door to
inner office. He might not have been there
and Miss Stover not seen him, or he might, as he suggests, have stepped
the washroom and forgotten it.
story is true Frank was strangling Mary in the metal room while Miss
in the front office. But the Carmen
testified that at that moment Mary was alighting from their car, five
In all his
statements before the trial Conley did not mention that he had seen
go up the stair way. The police knew she
had bone in and they may have “coached” Conley to say so to make his
true, but that overlooked this time element.
foreman of the factory testified that he reached the office at 12:20
stayed five minutes, talked with Frank in the office and left at 12:25. But Conley swore that Quinn went in and left
before Mary Phagan went in.
testified that she entered the factory a second time at 12:30 to see
husband on the top floor and saw Frank at work in the office. She saw her husband and while she talking
with him Frank came up, at 12:50 to tell her he was gong home in a few
to luncheon and was going to lock the factory. She
went out at 1 and saw Frank in the office as she
passed. Her husband and Denham testified
to the same
thing as to time.
testified that he did not see Mrs. White go.
most positive evidence that Conley’s story is false is this: he testified that after the murder, after the
body had been carried to the basement and he saw Frank had returned to
office, Frank saw Quincy Hall and Emma Freeman coming and put him in
women testified that they reached the factory at 11:35 and stayed until
when they left.
to get Mrs. Freeman’s coat and to call up Mrs. Freeman’s husband. They got the coat from the top floor, where
Mrs. Freeman worked, and talked to her husband through the telephone in
office. Frank was there writing and the
stenographer, Miss Hall was there, too, and Frank was taking to two men
were just leaving. Mrs. White was there,
too, on her first visit that day.
“As we were
going up the steps Mr. Frank called to Mrs. Freeman to tell Arthur
come down, that his wife wanted to see him. On
the fourth floor we say Mary Barrett, Arthur
White and Harry
Denham. When we left the factory the
following people were still there: Arthur
White, Mrs. White, May Barrett, her daughter,
Harry Denham, the
stenographer and Mr. Frank.”
That is the
testimony of Miss Quincy Hall. It is
corroborated by Mrs. Matti Hall, who left the office at 12:02, “just
noon whistle.” It is corroborated by Mrs. Freeman, by Mrs. White who
that she sent word upstairs by Mrs. Freeman for her husband to come
down. D. Tillander and E K. Graham were
the two men
who were in the office at that time.
from reading the report in the papers before he testified that Miss
Mrs. Freeman were there that day, therefore, he to make his story seem
truthful, he said he saw them go up, but his inferior mind could not
time element, and as he testified at the trial before they did he did
they talked through the telephone and he did not put that in his story. When asked what he heard the women say he
answered: “They said, Good morning, Mr. Frank.”
was safe in saying that. As to the rest
of the conversation he said they were “talking low.”
the time they were there at an hour and a half later then they were
there. he says it was “four minutes
one” when he was in the office with frank. He
looked at the clock and was position.
believe then that there four women, and Tillander and Graham, and
Freeman swore falsely we must pronounce Conley’s story as false. But the stories of those witnesses fit
together sad first with the testimony of other witnesses like the
perfect mosaic. It is as prefect as
mathematics. Its conclusion is as
certain as that two and two make four.
the negro, murdered Mary Phagan, and he described how he slew her in
notes he wrote and laid beside her body.
Conley is a
low, dissolute, brutal negro. He had
been in jail different times. He lived
with a negro woman not his wife. He
drank heavily and was always trying to borrow money from the girls in
factory, where he was a roustabout. His
brutal nature is shown by the glib, grinning manner in which he told of
carrying the body of the murdered girl to the basement, dropping her
“thump” upon the floor, handling the body of the pretty, golden haired
coldly as if it had been a dead dog.
the day of the murder. He had spent his
last cent for a flask of whisky which he took with him to the factory. That is his testimony. He
went there to sell off the effects of the
drink. he hid himself among the boxes
there, in the deep shadows.
came down the stairway with her mesh bag in her hand.
it is easy to think that she was opening her
pay envelope as she came. She might have
had the money in her hand. Now, read
those murder notes again:
that negro hire down here did
this, I went to make water and he push me down
that hole. A long, tall, negro, black:
that hoo it wase, long, sleam, tall
I wright while play with me.
reproduction of this note The Star omits two words represented by the
space. The punctuation marks are not in
the original. The other note reads as
said he wood love me laid down,
play like the night witch did it, but that long, tall
black negro did buy himself.
feet of where the negro was hiding among the boxes there is a large
hole in the
floor, two feet square, and a ladder reaching down into the basement. The hole is behind the walled-in elevator
shaft (See fig. 11).
stepped back into the shadow there for the very purpose stated in the
words in the note. Conley, crouching
there, saw here and on the impulse of the moment may have clutched her
throat and choked her or he may have hit her with something and laid
open. then he thrust her down the hole, head first, likely. At the foot of the ladder is a chuck of
log. Her head may have struck it and
caused the wound in her scalp.
down the ladder after her. She was not
dead. All the doctors agreed that the
wound on the head would not have killed her. There
was no skull fracture, no blood clot on the
brain. She would have been unconscious a
moments, she would have squirmed and clutched frantically in the agony
returning consciousness. She might have
Simmons of Birmingham, Ala.,
states in an affidavit that she was visiting in Atlanta and passed the pencil factory
afternoon of the murder and heard a woman’s screams in the basement. She heard a woman’s voice say “Please
don’t.” She stopped to listen. There was a grating there opening directly
into the basement. Screams in that
basement could have been heard.
she went and told Prosecutor Dorsey of it and that he tried to get here
change the time she said she heard the screams because Frank had gone
luncheon then. Dorsey denies this.
Dorsey it must be said that neither he not the defense places any
her story. She was not used as a
wounded girls must have struggled hard. The
cinders under her finger nails and matted into
her face prove
that. It also proves that she was alive
when she was in the cellar. She breathed
cinders and ashes into her nose and mouth. There
were no cinders on the office floor where
Conley says she was
the cord was put around her neck upstairs by Frank, that she was dead
there. All the doctors agreed that she
was strangled to death by the cord. Her
face was black, her eyes starting out, her tongue protruding. If that was done upstairs she could not have
breathed ashes and cinders in the cellar.
cinders were breathed before she died in the cellar, while she was
Conley. In his drunken desperation lest
she be heard and he be discovered he ripped a piece from her underskirt
tried to gag her with it. it was not
strong enough. Then he grabbed the
proved that cords like that were in the cellar. He
tied it tightly around her neck. It was
proved at the trial that a piece of the strip
of underskirt was
beneath the card, and beneath the strip of skirt were cinders. That proves beyond doubt that both were put
on in the cellar.
strangled her to death and eternal silence the negro had leisure to
back and hide her body at (fig. 12) where it was dark as midnight.
Then he sat
down to write the notes. Against the
wall opposite the boiler was a small, rude table with paper and pencil. Scattered around in the trash that came down
the floors above to be burned were sheets and pads of paper exactly
upon which the notes were written. The
pad from which one of the notes was torn was found by the body of
Sergeant L.S. Dobbs, who so testified.
it is proof of Frank’s innocence, that pad had printed on the top of
sheet the name of the pencil company and a date. it
was a pad used in the office by
Superintendent Becker, who preceded Frank as the factory head. All of those pads were carried into the
basement two years before, after Frank became superintendent, and ask
pads printed. There was no paper in
Frank’s office like that upon which that note was written.
This disproves absolutely the story of the
negro that the notes were written in Frank’s office.
wrote these in the basement: denied for eighteen days after his arrest
could write, when confronted with proof that the could write, and this
furnished by Frank , he first said that Frank wrote the notes. Shown that his could not be true, that
positively they were in his handwriting, he said he wrote them at
dictation. He swore that he “wrote them
word by word just as Frank told him.”
believed guilty by everyone. Frank would
naturally be the one upon whom Conley would lay the crime.
Under other circumstance, of less public
delirium, no one would have believed the negro’s story for a moment. It is too absurd from any point of view.
the notes the negro was afraid to to-up and out the street door. He went by the back door, indicated by an
arrow in the diagram. He pried the
locked staple out with a piece of iron pipe and went out.
finger prints were on the door. The
authorities sawed out the boards and took them to be examined by
experts. The government expert in charge
Bertillon department as the federal prisons in Atlanta says he could have
positively from those three distinct bloody finger prints whether
fingers made them. The finger printed
boards were never shown at the trial. The
prosecution said they had been lost.
that someone had them examined, found they corresponded with Conley’s
prints and destroyed them?
strands of hair found on a lathe in the metal room, which did so much
public suspicion upon Frank, also disappeared. Prosecutor
Dorsey said in reply to a question from
the defense, during the
trail, that he had lost them.
Yet, in his
impassioned speech to the jury he referred to those strands of hair. He said: “I tell you right now, gentlemen,
that when Barrett swore he found that hair on that machine he told the
“I tell you
right now, gentlemen, that when Barrett swore he found that hair on
machine he told the truth.”
was golden in color, easy to identify. But
several who saw that hair say it was dark. So
it was lost.
escaped by the back door into the alley, and Mary Rich, an old woman
pieces and cakes at the mouth of that alley, and knew Conley well, made
affidavit that she saw Conley come out that back door into that alley
afternoon, right at the time Conley did go out. But
before the trail she repudiated her affidavit. She
told friends that she had to make a
living and could not afford to antagonize the police.
the notes to direct suspicion away form himself and place it upon a
fired the boiler in the basement, “that negro hire down here.”
“down here” indicating that the notes were written “down here” not up
short, stout and light colored. He
wished to throw suspicion upon someone the very opposite of him, and
murderer “did it by his self, “Conley did not help him.
The negro that fired the boiler was “long,
slim, tall and black,” and so Conley described him that way in both
was not enough. He emphasized in the
second note that he “did it by hisself.”
down that hole.” Would Frank have written that after he had taken her
the elevator? It is pretty good proof
that she was pushed down that hole, and not carried down the elevator.
mind of the negro wished to make it appear that the girl wrote the
notes to her
mother while the negro was not watching her write.
“ I wright while he play with me.”
Whose mind but a negro’s would have conceived
such a silly explanation.
note “he said he would love me laid down, play like the night witch did
evidently this: “He told me to play, or make believe or tell, that the
witch did it.” Those words, “night
witch” are negro pure and simple. No
white man would have used them, especially a white man for the North,
never lived among negros. The ”night
witch” is an old negro superstition prevalent among them over all the
South. The “night witch” comes in
through the keyhole at night, gets upon the chest of a sleeping person
takes his breath away. Persons who die
in their sleep, who have bad dreams and nightmares are victims of the
Southern negro would have written that.
to the jury Prosecutor Dorsey emphasized that an illiterate negro like
would never have written “negro,”: but would have written “nigger:” but
wrote ten “nigger:” that he would have never written or aid “did it,”
have said “done it,” and that argument has great weight in Georgia.
me as I write the official stenographic report of Conley’s testimony as
it in court. he said “did it” and
“negro” many times.”
remember what I did.”
what I did.”
know sir what I did that day.”
“I did some
watching for him.”
testimony he said “negro,” many times, and seldom “nigger,” and the
has made affidavit sine that he wrote exactly as Conley pronounced the
words. Noting that both notes the writer
has a distinct way of describing a person “long, slim, tall, negro” “a
tall, black negro.”
testimony at the trial shows that his habit was to identify persons
several consecutive descriptive words. The
following are from his testimony:
a tall built lady, heavy weight.”
lady, kinder slim.”
“She was a
very tall, slim built lady.”
“He was a
tall, slim built, heavy man.”
Delsy, she was a low lady, kind of heavy.”
“He was a
looking man, and tall with it.”
“slim” was a favorite with him.
often the word “like: as it is used in the note, “play like the night
it.” And he used the words “hisself,” as it is used in the notes. I quote from his testimony:
“He went to the front door and fixed it
hisself, unlocked the front door hisself.”
like with pieces of velvet on it.”
something like that.”
looks like he would weigh that.”
And so on
often and often
been in jail Conley has written many letters to a negro woman prisoner. They are filled with the most unspeakable
obscenity. They prove, not only the
lasciviousness and moral rottenness of his nature, but they establish
question that he is a pervert. He writes
plainly of his perversion.
wrote the notes his dull mind, sodden with liquor, did not conceive
were differences in handwriting. To his
ignorant mind all handwriting was alike. Experts
say this is a common belief among the
ignorant. They think writing is writing
and that it is
impossible to tell one man’s writing from another’s.
Conley never thought that anyone could detect
that those notes were not written by the girl.
college graduate, the expert bookkeeper, would have known that. he would have never resorted to so clumsy a
subterfuge as using eh notes, even had he been such a fool as to take a
dissolute negro roustabout as accessory to his murder.
other evidences, beyond those given here, that Conley murdered Mary
that Frank is innocent. They can be
touched on only briefly here.
the elevator did not run at all the day of the murder, proven by a soft
substance deposited early the morning of the murder in the bottom of
elevator shaft and found intact Sunday morning after the murder. When the elevator was run then it mashed the
substance. The elevator floor always
hits the bottom of the shaft.
The two men
working upstairs did not hear the elevator run, and it runs with a loud
and shakes the floors.
not in the least nervous when seen by witnesses immediately after
the murder was done. He went home and
ate dinner with his wife and mother-in-law, returned to the factory and
out invoice sheets for three hours. Experts
testified that it would take three hours to
do it. The handwriting was plain and not a
nervousness in the writer of it.
extremely nervous and excitable at times. Witnesses
swore that once when a car on which he was
riding struck and
killed a child he was so upset that he could do no work all day. A quarrel with his foreman made him so
nervous that he gave up work the rest of the day.
she was wrapped in a cloth when he carried her to the cellar. No such cloth was ever found.
blood at the spot where Conley said he found her on the second floor,
had lain at least twenty minutes, and none in the elevator. And the undertaker and doctors testified that
she “must have bled a great deal” from the wound to the head.
Conley’s story was “made” for him, that he was coached in the telling
of it is
found in his testimony that “Frank put a piece of cloth under her head
killed her to keep the blood off the floor.”
A silly and impossible tale.
wished her body burned why did he dictate the notes?
There was no fire in the boiler that
day. To have kindled one would have
exposed the crime. It is a small
boiler. The door is so small the body
could not have been put in. The negro
would have had to chop it up and burn it piece by piece.
mesh bag and the bunch of red flowers from her hat were never found. The drunken negro probably carried them away
to give to the negro woman with whom he lived.
it was proved by Frank’s bankbook and the factory balance sheets that
not $200 in the office that day; there was less than $0, and Frank had
escaped by the back door, breaking it open first..
Frank did not go out that way.
alone refutes the possibility that Frank murdered Mary Phagan.
story is so incredible, so absurd, so inconsistent with all the facts,
wonders that anyone could believe a word of it.
honestly believe that Frank is guilty and that the rich Jews of the
raised a fund of millions of dollars to save his life.
it is not fair to criticize them for
that. They have been deceived and
“fooled” by the clique of political office holders who have worked the
man of Atlanta,
who reported the Frank case from its inception, told me that Frank was
innocent. I repeated that to an official
who had helped convict Frank, and he put the hollow of his hand to his
and whispered in all earnestness:
brought with Jew money. but don’t say I told you.”
that the reporter of another Atlanta
paper, who had attended each session of the trail, had also told me
of the Jew money, too. They’ve scattered
it all around,” he answered.
raises his voice in favor of Frank is accused of being bought by “Jew
of unusual intelligence, connected with a photograph gallery in Atlanta, said to me that she would like to see
hanged by the tongue at the “Five Points,” the center of Atlanta.
he is innocent.” I said. “Oh, you have
gotten some of the Jew money,” she reported.
editor, associate editor, city editor, assistant city editor and court
of an Atlanta
newspaper said to me they knew Frank was entitled to a new trial; his
don’t you say so?” I asked. “We dare
not; we would be accused of being bought by Jew money,” they answered.
who tried Frank, said publicly from the bench when denying a motion for
have given this question long consideration. It
has given me more concern than any other
case I was ever in, and I want to say right here that, although I heard
evidence and arguments during those thirty days, I do not know this
morning whether Leo Frank is innocent or
guilty. But I was not the one to be
convinced. The jury was convinced, and I
feel it my duty
to overrule the motion.”
the Atlanta Georgian, in a double-leaded editorial on the first page
Judge Roan, the trial judge, is
in doubt, and boldly says so, is it not time to pause before legal
added to the long list of other crimes in our state?”
raised such a storm about this that the Georgian, form that day to
not dared to say a word in Frank’s favor.
1914, the Atlanta Journal, conscience stricken and determined to try
some of the wrong done to Frank, printed, an editorial in large type,
four full columns, headed:
Have a New Trial..”
Here are a
paragraphs form that editorial:
not had a fair trial. He has not been
fairly convicted and his death without a fair trail and legal
amount to judicial murder.”
“It was not
within the power of human judges, human lawyers and human jurymen to
impartially and without fear the guilt or innocence of an accused man
circumstances that surrounded the trail. The
very atmosphere of the courtroom was charged
with an electric
current of indignation which flashed and scintillated before the eyes
jury. The courtroom and streets were
filled with an angry, determined crowd, ready to seize the defendant if
jury had found him not guilty.”
acquittal would have caused a riot such as would shock the country and
streets to run
with innocent blood.”
courts interfere we are going to murder an innocent man by refusing to
an impartial trial.”
Journal was accused of being bought with Jew money and was so
ruin that I dared not continue the policy it set out on, and it has
a word since then about unfairness to Frank nor a new trial.
daughter of L. Z. Rosser, who defended Frank, have been called on the
many times and told that he was going to be killed unless he ceased his
to save Frank.
the famous detective, who went to Atlanta
investigated the Frank case and declared he was innocent and that
Conley was the
murderer, had to leave the city hurriedly to escape threatened
his agents were not permitted to operate in Atlanta, and he was forced to close
Weekly, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times and Baltimore
Sun, which each sent a man to Atlanta
to investigate and who asserted that Frank was innocent, are accused of
been bought with “Jew money.”
bitterly any criticism of their officers or the court which convicted
solicitor general, who prosecuted Frank, said publicly when a new trial
must keep the respect of the people. The
Frank verdict must not be upset if the administration of law is not to
brought into contemp.”
of Thomson, Ga.,
said in its issue of January 7 this year:
under indictment; her people stand arraigned at the bar of public
she is made defendant before the world in a matter that is peculiarly
efforts of Frank’s millionaire backers succeed in concealing the truth,
giving immunity to a most hideous crime, then, hereafter the struggle
punishment of a convicted criminal will really begin outside the
outside the state and outside of the methods of law and evidence, which
built up by the painful labor of centuries, and which as every
lawyers knows, are so extraordinarily lenient to the prisoner, that it
practically impossible to convict an innocent man.”
in the Frank case has never been reviewed by an appellate court,
although it is
generally supposed that it has been. Under
laws the supreme court cannot review the evidence.
It can only pass upon the rulings of the
trial court; it can only consider errors of law and not errors of
testimony. The Supreme Court of Georgia,
in a recent decision, said it was not satisfied that the evidence was
sufficient to convict, but with that it could not interfere; the jury
sole judge of it, and the supreme court affirmed the conviction.
thrice sentenced to die and three times has come very near to the
gallows. The battle to get him a new trial
his case one of the most noted in criminal annals.
His first appeal was denied by the supreme
court. His lawyers then filed an
“extraordinary motion” for a new trial, raising the point that he was
court when the verdict was returned and citing newly discovered
evidence of his
innocence, and further evidence of perjury at his trial, and affidavits
that several of the twelve jurors had asserted before the trial their
his guilt, one, in particular, having declared that he hoped he could
the jury s he could “crack his damned neck.”
was denied by the supreme court.
examined by a commission of experts who declared eh was sane and normal
every way and not a pervert.
to annul the verdict was made and denied by the supreme court.
last, a motion for a certificate of “probably cause” for appeal was
Judge Newman of the United States District Court in Atlanta. This
acts as a stay of execution of the death
sentence, which was to
have been carried out January 23.
be passed upon by the United States Supreme Court is whether at the
moment of his trial, when the verdict was returned, Frank was denied
constitutional right of being present and looking his condemners in the
face. The supreme court of this country
has never decided this question before.
court decides in his favor it will discharge him, a free man, he cannot
all Frank has kept a brave front. His
fortitude has been amazing, in one of his statements, issued to the
his cell, he said:
the technical finesse of the law
forever to preclude a hearing of the facts, and human
rights to be trampled beneath the judicial
feet? If this is so, and I cannot as yet believe it, then our Twentieth Century
civilization is but a myth and the divine spark
in each beast a fairy tale. Then in
truth we hark back hundreds of years in human
progress to when the arena and ‘thumbs down’ were the last word of the law. It just cannot be
When he was
to death and was asked by the court if he had anything to say he faced
judge and made a statement, which indicates his high mental caliber. Champ Clark
said it was a wonderful statement and he pasted it in his scrap book. Senator Borah said it touched him deeply and
almost impelled him to go at once to Atlanta
to Frank’s aid.
your honor, I trust your honor will understand that I speak
addressing my words more to the bench as representing the majesty of
the law of
Georgia than to the gentleman now on the bench.
honor’s presence, representing human law, and in the presence of the
Judge who at this very moment is casting the light of hi omnipotent and
omnipresent eye upon me from his throne on high, I assert I am innocent
little Mary Phagan’s death and have no knowledge of how it occurred.
“Law, as we
know it, your honor, is but the expression of man’s legal experience. it is but relative. It
tries to approximate justice, but being
man-made, is fallible. In the name of
the law many grievous errors have been committed—error that were
irretrievable. I declare to your honor
now that the state of Georgia
is about to make such an error.
that when one has lost his life through violence of another, the
the deed must answer with is own. That
may be just. But the law does not say
that where one is killed a blood-sacrifice shall be made of the next
individual. If this latter obtains, then
the taking of such life is not justice. It
is but murder legalized. Oh,
what a terrible thing this is to contemplate!
about to pronounce words that will thrust me over the abyss that
earthly existence from the higher life, the life eternal.
I may shortly stand before the tribunal of
the Higher Judge of whom human minds have but the slightest conception.
tribunal I will be judged as I now
and will receive the reward of them who suffer wrongfully on this
as astounding and outrageous state of affairs obtained previous to and
my trial. On the streets rumor and
gossip carried vile, vicious and damning stories concerning me and my life. These
stories concerning me and my life. There stories were absolutely false, and did
me great harm, as they beclouded and obsessed the public mind and
against me. From a public in this state
of mind the jury that tried me was chosen. Not
alone were these storied circulated on the
street, but to the shame
of our community be it said, there vile insinuations crept into my very
in the courtroom, creeping in insidiously; like a thief in the night. The virus of these damning insinuations
entered the minds of the twelve men and stole away their judicial frame
and their moral courage. The issues at
bar were lost. The poison of unspeakable
things took their place.
in this presence and before God, I earnestly ask that God in his mercy
lightly with those who unwittingly, I trust, have erred against me, and
deal with them according to his divine judgment. If
the state and the law wills that my life
be taken as a blood-atonement for the poor little child who was
killed by another, than it remains for me only to die with whatever
my manhood may allow. But I am innocent
of this crime and the future will prove it. I
am now ready for your honor’s sentence.”
I saw, the
other day, a little group gathered in front of Frank’s death cell. The young wife, her happiness cut short, her
life ruined, her heart broken, stood outside the bars through wwhich
husband’s hands were thrust in vain attempt to soothe.
Her lips quivered. Tears
coursed down her cheek. There was
unutterable pathos and
tragedy and agony in
her eyes that gazed vacantly beyond him to a bit of sunshine filtering
a barred window.
the Gethsemane through which she is
father, dead of a broken heart since this blow fell, herself crushed:
long, lonely, sleepless nights in the shadow of the gallows waiting for
there on the other side of that wall, and my heart went out in pity to
stood Rabbi Marx, kindly, cultured, “faithful unto death,:” and tears
to say good-by, going out with a message that might help, some way,
burden of their grief, and as I turned to go, her uncle, aged and white
reached his hand to me and could only shake his head and say:
“Oh, it has
been awful, awful.”
It is not
money: that has brought the nation-wide protest. It
is the pity , the sympathy, the loyalty of
a people long oppressed, long harried and hounded, that reaches out to
their race, sorely pressed, and “caught as a bird in a net.”