After nearly 93 years, a Georgia State Historical Society marker was dedicated near the site of the infamous Leo Frank lynching in Marietta, Ga., Aug. 17, 1915. The tragedy, one of the darker moments of Georgia State and American Jewish history, cannot be overlooked or diminished. Philosopher Georgia Santayana noted, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Hatred, bigotry, mob irrationality, judicial and societal moral failure characterized the story. The Leo Frank marker project - a four-year effort spearheaded by JASHP, was dedicated March 7, 2008.
The Marker text reads:
Near this location on August 17, 1915, Leo M. Frank, the Jewish superintendent of the National Pencil Company, in Atlanta, was lynched for the murder of thirteen year old Mary Phagan, a factory employee. A highly controversial trial fueled by societal tensions and anti-Semitism resulted in a guilty verdict in 1913. After Governor John M. Slaton commuted his sentence from death to life in prison, Frank was kidnapped from the state prison at Milledgeville and taken to Phagan's hometown of Marietta where he was hanged before a local crowd. Without addressing guilt or innocence and recognition of the state's failure to protect Frank or bring his killers to justice he was granted a posthumous pardon in 1986.
Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and Temple Kol Emeth
(Click to enlarge)
ADL Badge worn at dedication (click to enlarge)
WHEREAS, a number of statements by others involved in the Mary Phagan case suggest that Mr. Frank was innocent of the crime; and in 1986, with support from Governor Joe Frank Harris, and through the efforts of attorneys associated with the Anti-Defamation League, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted Leo Frank a posthumous pardon based on the state's inability to secure his safety while he was in state custody; and...
Georgia General Assembly: Senate Resolution 1066 March 7, 2008
Images of a dark anti-Semitism, surrounding the Frank – Phagan tragedy, led to a rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and hatred as respectable evil. Vigilance, awareness of hatred and evil in any form, is forever warranted.
Leo Frank (Click to enlarge)
Trial of Leo Frank (Click to enlarge)
Atlanta Constitution (Click to enlarge)
Marietta, Ga. town square (click to enlarge)
Leo Frank lynching (click to enlarge)
KKK today and marching down Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. in the 1920's. (Click to enlarge)
A few moments before Leo Frank was lynched from a tree on Frey’s Gin Rd, in Marietta, Georgia, he asked that his wedding ring be given to his wife Lucille. The lynchers were respectable men. Some of them were the finest men of Georgia, Judges, businessmen, officers of the law, even a former Governor. The simple gold ring was slipped from Leo’s hand. As promised, it was eventually given to his widow. Leo was hung. Pictures were taken. Thousands of copies of the famous photograph of Leo Frank hanging from a tree were sold as souvenir post cards for many years in Georgia. The lynchers, the onlookers, were satisfied that justice, though delayed, was justice finally done. None were tried for the murder they had done.
Governor John Marshall Slaton - "Profile in Courage"
Gov. John M. Slaton
Marker - Atlanta History Center
Gov. John M. Slaton
John Marshall Slaton was born in Meriwether County and graduated from the University of Georgia before practicing law in Atlanta. Slaton served in both houses of the Georgia legislature and two terms as governor (1911-1912 and 1913-1915). While in office, he modernized Georgia's tax system and roads. Concerned by the sensationalized atmosphere and circumstantial evidence that led to the notorious 1913 conviction of Jewish businessman Leo Frank in the murder of teenager Mary Phagan, Slaton granted Frank clemency in June 1915. Slaton's commutation of Frank's death sentence drew national attention but hostile local backlash resulted in Frank's lynching in August 1915 and the end of Slton's political career. Slaton lived on Property adjacent to today's Atlanta History Center and Slaton Drive (named in his honor). he is buried in Oakland Cemetery.
Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, and the Atlanata History Center