American Pravda: The Leo Frank Case and the Origins of the ADL

by Ron Unz

About a week ago both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal devoted considerable space to the coverage of “Parade,” the revival of a 1998 Broadway musical on the 1915 killing of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager in Atlanta, Georgia, arguably the most famous lynching in American history.

Frank had been convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young girl in his employ and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was founded in an effort to save his life. After numerous legal appeals failed, the state’s governor eventually commuted Frank’s sentence and a group of outraged citizens responded by hanging Frank. The incident was portrayed in both the musical and the associated media coverage as a particularly horrifying example of American anti-Semitism.

Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt in “Parade” at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater.

However, the actual facts of that case were quite different than that and in 2018 I’d discussed them at considerable length as part of a longer article. Given the recently renewed spotlight on the issue and the fascinating implications of the true story, I’ve decided to extract and republish my analysis in hopes of bringing it to wider current attention.

Continue Reading →
Posted in ADL

Anti-Semitism and the Leo M. Frank Murder Case

Editor’s Note: This is a transcription of “Anti-Semitism and the Leo M. Frank Murder Case” by DeWitt H. Roberts. This document is from the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, Ohio.

DeWitt H. Roberts, 83 Ivy Street, N. E.
Atlanta, Georgia


A memorandum for Alex Miller, and the Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai Brith upon some aspects of the case and its consequences.

by DeWitt H. Roberts

The trial of Leo M. Frank was concluded more than forty years ago. Many articles, books, pamphlets and memoranda have been written in the intervening period. Most of these have been devoted to a discussion of the murder of Mary Phagan, to a search of the record to determine whether the evidence justified a verdict of guilty in a legal sense, and to speculation as to whether the defendant might have committed the crime.

Continue Reading →

Posted in ADL