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The New South and Leo Frank

Leo Frank, a northern Jew who had moved to Atlanta to manage a pencil factory, was accused of murdering a 14-year-old factory employee named Mary Phagan in the year 1913. After a sensationalized trial, Frank was found guilty and sentenced to hang. He was convicted primarily on suspicious testimony. Georgia Governor John Slaton was not convinced that the evidence for Frank’s guilt was strong enough to merit a hanging; he commuted Frank’s sentence to life imprisonment. Many in Marietta, Mary Phagan’s hometown, were outraged by this action. A group of 25 armed men took kidnapped and lynched Frank. Frank’s story reveals the many social conflicts that prevailed during those times. Historians discuss the events of the Leo Frank case and their broader implications.