On September 20, 2021, I wrote an article in the Happenings column titled “Leo Frank – Atlanta’s Murder Victim”.
Since I have started submitting this and many other historical accounts dealing with people, places and events in the South over the past few years, I have been surprised at the number of emails I have received. have received comments from readers on the content of the writing.
Today, research is often carried out through the use of the Internet and social media.
If this is a topic that I have personal knowledge of or gained through surviving witnesses, I will often supplement the content of previous data with my own thoughts.
Sometimes due to the age of the topic my articles will follow a particular path which I have tried to review, revise and not just copy and paste what a previous writer said outside of any legal documents.
To that extent, I have and hope I will always welcome compensatory versions in an effort to write the truth (or at least present both sides of the disputed story) in the tradition of famous journalist and commentator Paul Harvey. to “tell the other side of the story.”
In this vein, on Thursday October 14, 2021, I received in the mail a copy of a 531 page paperback novel titled “The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews – The Leo Frank Affair – The Lynching of a guilty man “. This is volume 3 of several works that are strongly criticized by many scholars as being anti-Semitic and misinterpreting historical records.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) (formerly the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League) was founded in 1913 and is an international Jewish non-governmental organization that was formed after the verdict in the murder of Leo Frank.
The book was written by the Nation of Islam and is believed to have been sent to me by a descendant of the murder victim, 13-year-old Mary Phagan.
Although the sender has clearly used his name and even included his mailing address, I see no reason to reveal his identity in this article although in this age of no-secrecy on the World Wide Web, I will leave this disclosure to some curious who wish to seek this information.
Obviously, this book’s version of the historic case involves a different interpretation of the facts and the identity of the alleged murderer presented in the Leo Frank case. It is also contrary to the concluding remarks of my original article by others. The voluminous treatise contains examples of specific articles in national and Georgian newspapers which clearly show an elaborate and expensive campaign to create the sympathetic image that Leo Frank was wrongly convicted and executed by a mob.
The pros and cons deal with the numerous appeals by various trial and appellate courts that ultimately decided the legal issues dealt with by the supreme courts of Georgia and the United States. The book Nation of Islam presents multiple factual accounts of alleged unethical conduct, witness corruption, and conflict of interest that tarnish the very fiber of the legal justice system that existed in America at that time. The “yellow journalism” was committed without any restraint on either side of the questions of the guilt or innocence of the accused.
Paul Harvey would approach this “other side of the story”, and I try to do the same with the intention of presenting the full picture. The unpleasant subjects of anti-Semitism, the tragic conflicts between all the races and divisions of our country (and the world) have unfortunately existed for thousands of years and remain in place today.
The book I received which was written by the Nation of Islam in 2016 contains over 1,200 selective footnotes, quotes and legal and journalistic sources since the death of Leo Frank by a mob of lynchers after he was unwittingly removed from Milledgeville State Prison. He was transported to the hometown of the victim, Mary Phagan, in Marietta and his hanging took place at Frey’s Gin on August 17, 1915.
He boldly asserts that “anti-Semitism” was never raised in the trial court by either side, but the attack on the state’s main witness, a black employee, Jim Conley, at the workplace from Leo Frank to the National Pencil Company, as a director was rumored everywhere as an “anti-black defense”.
However, after the guilty verdict and death sentence were handed down by the court, it was claimed and shown that a national campaign to defend against anti-Semitism was launched by Jewish leaders in the news media. , the religious, merchant, financial and advertising industries which will continue until Frank’s posthumous pardon in 1986 by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Lyrics which continues to the present day.
On June 15, 1915, Georgia Governor John Marshall Slaton commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. This would result in the killing of all of Slaton’s political ambitions and it is also claimed that he and his family were driven out of Georgia under National Guard protection for his own safety. They will move to San Francisco, California, where they will reside for several years before returning to Atlanta to take over a law firm with Frank’s senior criminal defense attorney, Luther Rosser.
I included a chapter on the Frank Affair in my last trivia book in 2021, “Tri-State Reflections,” which is a small historical compilation of people, places and events in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. .
In an effort to include an equal number of articles from each of the three states, I chose the Leo Frank case and mistakenly assumed that the facts and issues of a 1913 case (there are 108 years) had already been presented, debated and decided in both and non-legal circles.
As a result, I gave an abridged and one-sided account of another “Trial of the Century” which unfortunately included many actions by participants and the media that are no longer accepted today under the “fair trial” and d other violations of our Constitution. .
For this reason, I am writing this follow-up article in an attempt to present both sides of the Frank case.
Before a pardon in 1986, a failed 1982-1983 campaign, highlighted by the revelation of 83-year-old white man Alonzo Mann, prompted the public and media to pull the Frank case out of the dusty pages of the ‘story. Mann, through his attorney, John Jay Hooker, Jr. of Nashville, Tennessee, claimed that at the date of Mary Phagan’s murder, he was a 13-year-old office boy at the crime scene and that ‘he had seen a colleague and key prosecution witness James Conley, carrying the victim’s body to the basement of the National Pencil Company near the stairs to the first floor. He also claimed that Conley was threatening his life if he ever revealed what he had seen on the date of the crimes.
After 69 years of silence, Mann told his story and guided by Hooker, he made his revelation which included the 1986 effort to convince the Georgia Board of Pardons and Lyrics to take corrective action on the Leo Frank verdict.
Although initially unsuccessful in 1983, the story Mann claimed created a nationwide advertising campaign and with the help of a trio of Nashville reporters Tennessean wrote a lengthy account in its Sunday March 7, 1982 edition and raised whether Leo Frank had become a Jewish Martyr or was still the rapist and murderer of the 13-year-old victim.
With the help of the Anti-Defamation League and pro-Frank articles that had already been published in the New York Times (NYT) in 1913-1915, the Middle Tennessee newspaper, the NYT, among others, and Hooker have gave the tragic story a new life in history.
This led to the 1986 pardon which did not exonerate Frank from the crime, but was allegedly based on the illegal kidnapping and public hanging of Frank by a group of avengers under the name “Knights of Mary Phagan”.
The Nation of Islam book claims that this title was created by the NYT as a single citation, but was also reportedly made available to a national readership by other interested authors.
Mann’s story was repeated in an affidavit, a deposition led by the inadmissible questions and answers of his lawyer, John J. Hooker, and a publicity tour.
As today’s beneficiaries in the news media frenzy in any sensational historical event, John Jay Hooker in the book Islam is also cited as revealing that reporters of Tennessee history were the recipients of a ” book and film deal executed by two leading Tennessee reporters “.
As expected, the Leo Frank – Mary Phagan event was dramatized in numerous books, state, TV, and even a Public Delivery System (PBS) documentary.
The story of any subject, good or bad, should be preserved as part of the First Amendment freedom we enjoy as Americans.
The decision as to whether a fair verdict and result was delivered in the Leo Frank case or whether it was “politicized” is left to readers who examine any of my writings or the sources included.
Maybe Paul Harvey would approve of this second article. I sincerely hope that my efforts to adhere to his earlier efforts to present both sides in a public forum have now been followed up!
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(If you have additional information on any of Mr. Summers’ articles or have any suggestions or ideas on a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at [email protected])