The Leo Frank Case Research Library Information on the 1913 bludgeoning, rape, strangulation and mutilation of Mary Phagan and the subsequent trial, appeals and mob lynching of Leo Frank in 1915. Fri, 16 Nov 2018 17:41:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mincey Ready to Tell Story to Grand Jury Fri, 16 Nov 2018 17:41:56 +0000

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 20, 1913

Man Who Says He Heard Negro Confess Now Is at Rising Fawn, Ga.

W.H. Mincey, the school teacher who made an affidavit declaring Jim Conley confessed to him on the afternoon of the murder of Mary Phagan that he killed a girl, will appear before the Grand Jury to repeat his startling story when that tribunal convenes Monday to consider the Phagan matter, it was reported Saturday night.

Mincey, who is now at Rising Fawn, Ga., has expressed his willingness to come to Atlanta for this purpose. His evidence, which has proved the most important of all that has come to light since Conley’s affidavit directing guilt at Frank, is considered of the greatest weight in bringing the Grand Jury to its consideration of indicting Conley.

Hugh Dorsey, Solicitor General, insisted Saturday that his every effort would be directed against the indictment of Conley.

The Solicitor will not fight in Conley’s defense except as a last resort. His chief desire is that the Grand Jury postpone action in regard to the negro until after the Frank trial.

“Conley can be indicted after the Frank trial is disposed of much more properly than at present,” said the Solicitor Saturday. “And by the delay, there will be no danger of a miscarriage of justice.”

The chief contention of the Solicitor is that with Conley indicted for the murder, and with uncertainty thus engendered, much of the force of the State’s case against Leo M. Frank will be lost. It is the insistent declaration by police, city detectives and the Solicitor’s force that a chain of direct and apparently conclusive evidence has been forged against Frank.

It is mostly for this reason that Dorsey will request the Grand Jury to keep its hands off the Conley case. The Solicitor also hinted that he holds evidence, revelation of which would prevent the Grand Jury from indicting the negro. He feels also, as he announced, that a consideration of the Phagan case at this time will bring about an indiscreet exploitation of the State’s evidence, thus revealing essential features of the prosecution’s case to the defense.

All this he will present to the Grand Jury, it is expected.

Other phases of the case discussed Saturday included the intimation that the Frank defense will ask for a trial jury drawn from the Grand Jury box, and not from the petit jury box. The legality of this procedure, according to the Solicitor, is a matter of conjecture.

The Grand Jury will meet Monday at 10 o’clock, at the call of the foreman. The body has only twenty members, and by statute a quorum of eighteen is necessary to consider the indictment or exoneration of a person. The fact that a small margin thus is left for probable absence seems to strengthen the Solicitor’s forecast that no indictment will be returned against Conley at this time.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, July 20th 1913, “Mincey Ready to Tell Story to Grand Jury,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Anti-Semitism and the Leo M. Frank Murder Case Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:09:10 +0000

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.

In most of these studies, which rely all too heavily upon the transcript of the evidence and upon private documentation, the case has been torn from its context completely. Some time relationships have been grossly distorted. The social, economic and political contemporaneous events have been relentlessly disregarded, as if Mary Phagan, Leo Frank, Jim Conley, the battery of trial lawyers, and the unhappy Judge Roan lived in a vacuum. Georgia of 1913 has been equated variously with Georgia of 1900 and with Georgia of 1928 and with Georgia of 1950; in no instance has it been equated with its own date.

This treatment does not undertake to solve the mystery surrounding the murder of Mary Phagan. Only in passing is it related to the guilt or innocence of Leo Frank. Only in passing is it concerned with the mishandling of his defense. It is concerned with the personal prejudice that developed toward Frank only as it is important in the aspect of its transference to the entire Jewish community.

The function of this brief treatment is clarification of the background, so that the essential questions can be determined. These are:

    1. How and at what point did anti-Semitism enter the case?
    2. How did the Jewish community fail, not Frank, but itself?
    3. Could a similar thing happen in Georgia today, and, if so, where?
    4. What should and could the Jewish community do in such a case?

To answer these questions even partially, it is sometimes necessary to go far-afield, to explore various by-paths, to reconstruct with greater accuracy than heretofore the period in which the events took place, to rectify the chronology frequently assumed, and to interpret the prejudices of 1913 in terms of that day instead of a later period.

Regretably [sic], except for a few valueless journalistic treatments, most studies of the Frank case have been made by specialists in the law or in social science. The former have assumed a legal climate essentially different from that actually prevailing. The latter have failed in their reconstruction of the socio-economic structure of 1913 Georgia. Both have wanted experience in public affairs, and both have misunderstood completely the role of the newspapers of Atlanta, as factional organs, and of the Atlanta Jewish community.

The Chronology of the Case


April 26 Murder of Mary Phagan; Saturday; Memorial Day.

April 27 Body found, 3:30 A.M.; Frank called, 7 A.M. and urges immediate arrest of Jim Conley and J. M. Gantt.

April 28 Frank asks Herbert Haas to protect interest of company, and engages Pinkerton detectives. Coroner calls jury.

April 29 Investigation continues until…

May 1 Epps youth accuses Frank of attentions to Mary Phagan

May 2 Col. Thos. Felder enters case, and seeks funds to hire W. J. Burns for investigation. Milton Klein issues statement.

May 3 Sol. Gen. Dorsey takes over investigation; Frank denies making confession

May 6 Coroner’s jury resumes hearing; Frank testifies; Rosser enters case as his attorney. Frank and Newt Lee held.

May 24 Frank Indicted; Conley “confession” revealed

July 28 Trial opens

Aug. 25 Frank found guilty


Feb. 17 State Supreme Court affirms lower court’s action


April 19 U.S. Supreme Court renders decision.

April 22 Judge B. H. Hill denies extraordinary motion for new trial

June 9 Prison Commission, with one dissent, refuses action.

June 21 Sentence commuted by Gov. Slaton

Aug. 16 Mob breaks into State Prison; Frank lynched near Marietta

Georgia in 1913

Social & Economic: The State was in the midst of very bad times. The banks were having difficulty in financing the cotton crop, and large Federal deposits to assist them had been promised by Pres. Wilson, who had recently taken office. The State was predominantly agricultural. Employment of women in industry, except textiles, was exceptional except in a very few places.

The Jewish Community: Georgia had the largest Jewish population in the Southeast, a condition that had existed almost from Colonial days, since this was the only wholly secular colony and the only one except Rhode Island in which they enjoyed full political rights. The Jewish population in Georgia, proportionately, was four times as large as that in South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi or Alabama. The Atlanta Jewish community, though newer, less integrated with the community, and possibly less influential that those in Savannah and Albany, for example, was probably in about the same ratio to the population as today. There had never been any outbreak of anti-Semitism in the State at any time.

Georgia Politics: At the time of the murder, Joseph M. Brown was Governor; he was succeeded, about the time the trial opened, by John M. Slaton. Watson was influential as a balance of power in many State races, but the fight was chiefly between the Smith and Brown factions.

Atlanta Politics: James Woodward, Mayor of Atlanta, was engaged in his perennial war with Chief-of-Police Beavers. “Vice” was the major issue, with various side-scandals in municipal affairs.

The Newspapers: Dominant was the Constitution, owned by the Howell family, and bitterly antagonistic to Senator Hoke Smith’s faction. Locally it supported Beavers. Dorsey was a protege. The Journal, rapidly growing, was owned by the Gray family, although it was the political organ of the Smith faction. It was somewhat anti-Beavers, but, for reasons of respectability was not a Woodward supporter openly. The Georgian had recently been acquired from the Seely interests by Hearst, who had provided it with the finest staff of any paper in the country, drawn from his New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles papers. The Constitution, as will be shown, assumed Frank’s guilt. The Journal, it is believed because of inside information from certain of the anti-Beavers officers on the force, started with an anti-Frank attitude, but became, through those sources, convinced of his innocence. The Georgian played the case in a spectacular manner, with utter recklessness that probably hurt the defendant, but without actual bias in its writing.

Attitude of Public: Frank’s guilt seems to have been assumed from the first, probably based upon the Constitution’s highly exaggerated stories. Five prominent members of the Jewish community served in the list of twenty-three grand jurors indicting him, and voted for the indictment. Apparently, except for close personal associates, his family and in-laws, Herbert Haas, some members of the Journal staff, a few anti-Beavers officers, and Rabbi Marx, no one believed Frank innocent until after his conviction. The clumsy efforts of the defense, the lurid accounts of the crime and the trial, the want of sophistication of the community and its press, the stories in all papers on child-labor, white slavery, vice and similar topics, the exceptional talents of Asst. Sol. Gen. E. A. Stephens, who prepared the case for the prosecution, the personality of the defendant — all these made it incredibly difficult for the public to accept a theory of Frank’s innocence. The initial prejudice against him was as a “foreign exploiter of our young women”; next it became a prejudice against a “voluptious [sic] Sodomite”; finally it became “a rich man trying to buy his way out of killing a poor girl”.

The Newspaper Coverage

The coverage of the murder and the preliminary investigations were sensational, but did not become prejudicial to Frank until May 1. On that date, the Constitution gave sensational display to a charge by George Epps, a boy of about Mary Phagan’s age who claimed, and later testified, that he rode to Atlanta from Marietta with her on the day of the murder, that Frank had “paid attentions” to the slain girl. On the following day, Milton Klein’s statement of confidence in Frank was given a rather snide play, while the Felder efforts to get Burns to make an investigation were given attention. On May 3, while featuring the story that the Solicitor General was taking over the investigation, the Constitution carried a story captioned: “Frank Denies Confession”.

On the following day, a Sunday, May 4, the Constitution carried a full page feature on the murder, while the front page featured a head:

Fake Detectives;

Impostors Busy

In Sleuth Roles

In Phagan Case

This story suggested by innuendo that the fake detectives were in the employ of Frank or his friends. Undeniably, such persons had forced their way into the home of the murdered girl’s mother and step-father and had questioned other witnesses.

Headlines as they appeared on subsequent crucial days before the trial are cited below. From April 27 until June 4, a period of 39 days, the murder story remained on the front page. It moved inside briefly, with daily stories of some kind, until the opening of the trial.

Files of the Georgian are not fully available; its stories, while sensational, cut in both directions. The Journal never printed immoderate accounts, although its handling of its “exclusive” on the Felder dictophone expose probable damaged the defense badly. The Constitution, however, persistently assumed Frank’s guilt.

Sleuths Believe
They can Convict
Phagan Murderer     Constitution, Monday, May 5.

Quinn Declares That Officers
Accused Him of Being Bribed
To Come to Aid of Superintendent     Constitution, May 6 (coroner’s inquest story)

Officials Plan
To Exhume Body     Constitution, May 7

Chief (of Detectives) Lanford
Reports Someone
Bribing Witnesses,
Planting Evidence     Constitution, May 8

The Constitution of May 9 featured charges that Frank had made improper advances to many female employees. On May 12 it featured the defense employment of Pinkerton detectives. On May 15, it featured a story implying that Mary Phagan expected to be murdered and had prepared an “identification paper” for her purse. On May 16, it supported Felder’s idea of getting in Burns by popular subscription. Some headlines were:

Girl Will Swear Office
Of Frank was Vacant
Between 12:05 and 12:15     Constitution, May 10

Officer Swears
He Found Frank
With Young Girl     Constitution, May 11

In Loop of Death
Dorsey May Have
Clue to Murderer     Constitution, May 17

This contrasts with the Journal head for May 17:

Phagan Case Will
Go to Jury In
Present Form

Documentary Evidence
Sufficient to Convict,
Says Chief Lanford     Constitution, May 18

Rooming House
Sought by Frank,
Declares Woman     Constitution, May 23

This story was especially prejudicial to the defense; the woman, impliedly the operator of a house of assignation, claimed that Frank called her on the day of the murder and sought to engage a room. On the same date, May 23, the Journal obtained an exclusive break on the efforts of Col. Felder to obtain affidavits given by the mother and step-father of the slain girl. On May 24, the date the indictment was returned, the Conley confession, the indictment and the following were featured in the Constitution:

Frank not at Home
Hours on Saturday,
Declares Lanford     Constitution, May 24

Frank Guilty — Lanford     Constitution, Sunday, May 25

Scott Says
Frank Guilty     Constitution, May 26
(Scott was head of the Pinkerton office, employed by Frank)

Burns Agency
Quits Case     Constitution, May 27

Conley Says He Helped Frank Carry     (full page streamer)
Body of Mary Phagan to Cellar     Constitution, May 30

Mary Phagan Murder Work of Negro,
Says Leo M. Frank     Constitution, May 31

The bordello keeper’s story crept back into the news presently. Her testimony was not used; first, because it was inadmissible; second, because it was at complete variance with all the other State evidence. But it had prejudicial value:

Frank Asked Room
To Conceal Body,
Believes Lanford     Constitution, June 2

The mistress of the house of assignation then vanished, but the Constitution hailed her return on June 19: “Mrs. Formby Here for Phagan Trial”.

In the meantime, on June 3, Minola M’Knight, a servant in the Frank home, had been released after four weeks of questioning. Mrs. Frank issued a statement, deploring police methods, which was featured by the Constitution under the following:

Dorsey Replies
To the Charges
Of Mrs. L. Frank     Constitution, June 3

The Georgian meantime had printed a story suggesting that Leo Frank had been bigamously married in Brooklyn, which was refuted by the Journal. The story did not appear in the Constitution.

From June 4, until the opening of the trial, the papers carried few stories. With its opening on July 28, all papers had a field day. The Journal relied largely on courtroom sketches; the Constitution and Georgian had photographers.

The Constitution’s front page of August 29 was garnished with a six column picture of the court room, showing six lawyers and various other persons at the defense table.

The Constitution apparently had no doubts as to Frank’s guilt. In addition, it was strangely pro-Beavers and was a sponsor for Solicitor General Dorsey, whom it afterward supported for Governor (1916, successfully) and for Senator (1920, unsuccessfully). The Georgian played both sides luridly, leaning to the prosecution. The Journal, which had seemed to accept the community verdict of Frank’s guilt, but which had been moderate in its coverage, seems to have become convinced of his innocence on May 21, and took a moderate but partisan position thereafter in the handling of the news of the case.

Contrasting handling of the stories speaks from the headlines:

Conley’s Main Story Still
Remains Unshaken     (1 line, 8 col. streamer)

Grilled 12 Hours
By Luther Rosser,
Jim Conley Insists
Frank Guilty Man     Constitution, Wed., Aug. 6

Dalton Tells About
Visits Paid Pencil
Factory With Women     Constitution, Friday, Aug. 8

The Sunday stories were more moderate, but, probably by chance, a violently anti-Semitic article, with a London, England, dateline appeared in the Constitution: “Lord Newton is fighting to make loan sharks use real names as Moses and Aaron”. Since the defense was presenting evidence, the Constitution played the trial down somewhat, feating the testimony of Schiff, an employee.

The State had become committed to the theory that Frank was a sexual pervert, there being definite evidence that Mary Phagan had not been raped. So on Wednesday, August 13, the Constitution led off with a head: “Office boy asked whether Frank did not make advances to him”. (This element will be discussed later)

The Constitution’s headlines for Sunday, August 17, were:

“Serious Blow is Dealt Defense by Its Own Witness”

Girl Says Frank
Often Looked In
Dressing Rooms

Wealth of Frank’s Relatives Injected
In Cross-Examination of Mother

On Thursday, August 21, as the evidence ended, the Constitution’s front page displayed a picture of the most photogenic of the girls used by the State as rebuttal witnesses after Frank’s character was put at stake by the defense. The picture was captioned: “Girls Tell Jury Frank’s Character is Bad”.

The drop-off head on the lead Sunday story, August 24, in the Constitution read:

“Solicitor Takes up Alibi of Prisoner, Picks it to Pieces; Tells About Minola McKnight (sic) Affidavit and Defends Detective Department. No Doubt Frank Dictated Murder Notes, He Declares.”

The story on the verdict was not overplayed, but a feature showed the bias:

As Bells Tolled, Dorsey Closed
Magnificent Argument Which
Fastened Guilt on Frank     Constitution, Tues., Aug. 26

The Journal’s headlines reflect its belief in the innocence of the defendant. Some are quoted:

“Its Terrible for An Innocent
Man to be Charged With Crime”     Journal, Sunday, Aug. 3
(This captioned a boxed story, leading the general trial story, and is a quotation from a brief interview with Leo M. Frank.)

Jim Conley’s Memory Proved
Bad Under Cross-Examination     Tuesday, Aug. 5

Sheriff Mangum Explains
Why he did not put
Handcuffs on Frank     Friday, Aug. 8

Franks Story of Before and
After the Crime Corroborated     Thurs., Aug. 14

Dalton Excoriated, Conley
Annihilated and Solicitor
Charged With Persecution     Friday, August 22

The story of Arnold’s argument, which introduced the theme of racial and religious persecution, was treated exceptionally fully in the Journal of Thursday, August 21. Their story on the verdict, Monday, August 25, was strongly pro-defense, expressing the belief that Frank’s friends would continue to have complete faith in his innocence.

Anti-Semitism Enters the Case

The verdict of the jury did three things. It sobered the press of Atlanta; the game, played between Dorsey-Hooper and Arnold-Rosser, was concluded, and it could be observed that the prize was the neck of a man. Secondly, it roused the Jewish community, heretofore very largely indifferent to Frank’s fate. Thirdly, it touched off a tremendous outburst of anti-Semitism.

Some people began to consider the evidence impartially; others heard, as undoubtedly Judge Arthur G. Powell was to hear a little later, the quite possibly true story of Conley’s confession; both of these groups began to believe Frank innocent. On far less rational grounds, the Jewish community — in Atlanta. throughout the Southeast — assert his innocence.

It is possible to determine the precise moment when the public became conscious of Leo Frank’s Jewishness. It is, however, quite improbable that more than two members of the jury were affected by the realization, for it was not obtrusive nor a major factor in his conviction. Nevertheless, it entered the trial during the cross-examination of the senior Mrs. Frank on Saturday, August 16. Mrs. Frank previously had irritated the Solicitor by interrupting him with an hysterical outburst during the examination of another witness, and in his cross-examination he turned to the theme of the family’s “great wealth” and the fact that some relatives were “retired capitalists”.

A few anti-Jewish expressions had been heard before, but it became obvious from that date forward that some of the prejudice against Frank had an anti-Semitic flavor. Reuben Arnold, attorney for the defense, in his opening argument turned to the theme, charging religious persecution as the basis for the prosecution. But although some members of the mob outside the court room shrieked to “Hang the Jew”, contemporary accounts and memories unaffected by the trauma of the subsequent events would be inclined to cause adoption of the view that even that cry did not evidence antipathy toward Frank because he was a Jew.

The anti-Semitic aspects entered the case with full violence only with the entrance of Thomas E. Watson into the picture. But ill-advised efforts on behalf of Frank while the State Supreme Court was considering the case prepared the path for Watson’s advent.

It is generally believed that Watson caused Frank’s death. In the sense that he provoked the lynch mob to action, that is true. But Watson made no comment upon the case in his magazine or newspaper* until a month after the Supreme Court of Georgia had waded through the voluminous record and rationalized affirmation of the conviction. In no way did Watson take part in any of the events that preceded the trial, nor did he write anything during the trial.

*See preceding page. Watson published Watson’s Magazine, a monthly, and the Jeffersonian, a weekly.

But in March 1914, he struck with unmitigated venom.

Watson’s political history, including his vendetta with the Atlanta Journal and Hoke Smith, is too well known to require any retelling. He had become almost the balance of power in State elections. He was, in 1914, conducting a mild sniping at Woodrow Wilson, whom he disliked, and a rabid campaign against the Pope, whom he termed “Jimmy Cheesy, a fat old dago who lives with voluptuous women”. That, however, was mild language for one who called rival politicians “keepers of Negro concubines and minions of Rome”.

It was probably the stand the Atlanta Journal took in demanding a new trial for Frank that precipitated Watson into the case with such energy. At any rate, culling over all the anti-Semitic literature of the ages, he produced a wealth of invective against the Jew.

Among his more original and vitriolic pieces were “Jesus was no Jew”, “Leo Frank: A Jew Pervert”, “The Jewish Conquests” and a serial upon the history of the Jews that is extraordinary for imaginative effort and provocative language; indeed, the lecherous monk with his breed of nuns was replaced in both publications by the lecherous Jew with his harem of child-Christians.

The circulation of the Jeffersonian rose from 25,000 to 87,000.

The vehemence of the anti-Semitic campaign undoubtedly was very greatly stimulated by two factors: first, the natural but clumsy efforts of the Jewish community to save Frank; second, by the acute depression, which hit rural merchants more severely than any other class in Georgia.

As appeals for clemency came from the Texas and Tennessee legislatures and many other sources, as the courts debated the case and Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was making his observations about due process of law to an unheeding majority, as the Prison Commission and Governor Slaton considered commutation, the fever of anti-Semitism increased.

In many rural communities there were handbills: “Buy your clothes from an American Store. Or shall your money go ‘to buy Governors'”. These appeared immediately after Governor Slaton acted.

On August 12, 1915, Watson wrote: “The next Jew who does what Frank did is going to get exactly the same thing that we give to Negro rapists”.

On August 16, 1915, Frank was killed by the mob.

The Mistakes of the Defense

The defense of Leo Frank was one of the most ill-conducted in the history of Georgia jurisprudence. The defendant made all possible mistakes in handling himself before his arrest. His attorneys completely misunderstood the nature of the evidence against him. His defense was handled by so many people, diverted into so many directions, that it is now impossible to determine responsibility.

It is certain that the defense counsel depended very heavily upon Judge Roan. The trial judge was eminently fair, but it was apparent that he did not think Frank guilty. His rulings leaned toward the defense on almost every close point. It is apparent that both Judge Roan and Frank’s counsel expected a verdict of “not guilty”, and that the absence of Frank and his lawyers from the court room when the verdict was brought in arose from that expectation.

Frank was less than candid with officers. A natural nervous shyness doubtless with the case. His four-hour appearance on the witness stand was disingenuous in the extreme, and marked by a factual error (the statement that the noon whistle blew) that completed the case against him.

Undoubtedly some one interested in the defense employed dishonest detectives, and, possibly, induced at least one of the Pinkerton operatives to deviate from propriety; the action of Scott, head of the Pinkerton office, in declaring Frank guilty is explicable only on the theory either of police pressure or personal indignation at tampering with his staff. The mysterious “pay envelope”, bearing not a single fingerprint of any kind — even a smudge, had to have been a plant.

It is uncertain whether friends of Frank were behind the insidious operations of Col. Thomas B. Felder, but the public so believed.

The presence of some seven lawyers and several relatives at the defense table prejudiced the jury. The fashionable dress of some of the Frank relatives was in too sharp contrast to the simple clothes that Stephens, the real genius of the prosecution, saw that Mary Phagan’s mother were.

Introduction of a horde of character witnesses by the defense was one of the three major mistakes of the actual trial. The Brooklyn and Texas delegations created prejudice; the local witnesses were compelled, upon cross-examination to admit that Frank “looked into the women’s dressing room” – – a sure proof, in the eyes of a 1913 jury, of the charge of perversion.

(Whether Frank was or was not tainted with a mild voyeurism can not be determined from the documentary evidence. It is not improbable, since the witnesses summoned on his behalf, all of whom testified to his good character and denied that he had made any ‘advances’ to employees, also gave testimony that supports that view. On the other hand, Frank’s explanation of his looking into the dressing room is consistent with the savage employer mores of 1913, and may have been completely true.)

The second major mistake made at the trial was the verbose cross-examination of Jim Conley. The Pettibone trials were close enough in time for Frank’s attorneys to have known better.

The third major mistake was the parading of a spurious witness, one Mincey, before the jury during the cross-examination of Conley, and the subsequent failure to place him on the stand. Not having him testify was, however, wise enough; the State would have riddled both men and his “evidence” with ease, and has called some sixteen witnesses for the purpose, as Dorsey managed to inform the jury.

It is difficult, at first glance, to understand the mistakes made in organizing the case for trial.

However, a careful reading of actually contemporary documents and the application of even a slight knowledge of human nature will reveal precisely what happened.

The defendant was an acutely nervous individual, a newcomer to Atlanta without very many intimate friends. His life seems to have been very largely devoted to his family, including his wife’s parents and other relatives. His one thought, and theirs, appears to have been: “How can we hush up this mess and avoid a scandal?” It is quite apparent that there was little or no consciousness of his danger until far too late.

As for his attorneys, the answer is even simpler. First, they were far too numerous. At the actual trial, there appear to have been but four attorneys-of-record: Messrs. Arnold, Rosser, Hopkins and Haas; but at least two or three more always occupied space at the defense table, and certainly at least seven or eight individual attorneys busied themselves with one or another aspect of the initial defense.

The leading counsel, Arnold and Rosser, were acknowledged powers as trial attorneys. They had handled many important cases. Arnold, a great figure before juries, had a marvelous range of forensic arguments. Rosser excelled on cross-examination. Undoubtedly they underestimated the skill with which Dorsey, guided by the technical genius of Stephens, had prepared the case. (Actually, the pair went into retirement for more than two weeks to map the trial. Not only were they prepared as to witnesses and cross-examination, but they perfected the timing with absolute skill. It was no accident that Dorsey’s concluding [peroration] coincided with the bells of the Catholic church a half-block away. Their handling of the prosecution was a masterpiece of meticulous detail. Dorsey certainly believed that Frank was not only guilty but a “monster of iniquity”. Stephens, who dominated the Solicitor-General office in Fulton county for more than thirty years under several chiefs, was an extraordinary character. He seldom touched a case until after indictment; he believed that the prosecutor’s office was supposed to prosecute; he had the tenacity of Javert; he was the greatest expert on homicide law and the law of evidence in the South; he was wholly incorruptible; he was entirely without feeling or sentiment in the conduct of the office. Whether Stephens held any opinion at all about Frank’s guilt or innocence could never be determined; discussing the case, almost twenty years later, he said: “The jury thought him guilty. The evidence authorized the verdict. When the appeal came down, I dismissed it from my mind”.)

In addition, the defense attorneys, especially Rosser, appeared to desire to make this “big case” a demonstration of virtuosity. Pulled from the context of the trial, Rosser’s cross-examination of Conley was a marvel of art. But the Negro had been coached far more competently than McPharland had coached Orchard, in the only comparable American trial. A different line of cross-examination would have [produced] acquittal.

Arnold’s injection of the race-religious issue into the trial was a matter of mere calculated risk. With a different stage setting, it might well have succeeded. His speech was intense, brilliant and moving. considering his temperament, he could not have made a better one. Had he been Frank’s only attorney, had the defense rested its case wholly on Frank’s unsworn testimony and a different type of cross-examination, if the ninety-nine character witnesses not prejudiced the jury already, had Arnold, Frank and his wife been the only occupants of the defense table, the Arnold speech might well have swept the jury to an acquittal. If the entire group of defense attorneys and official and unofficial advisers, only Arnold seems to have apprehended any of the true atmosphere of the trial.

The Appeal and Thereafter

Frank would have been well advised to have dismissed all the attorneys who participated in the trial and predicated his appeal solely on the issue of his absence from the court room when the jury returned the verdict. Under these circumstances, it is possible that a new trial might have been directed. In general, the rulings of the trial Judge had been favorable to the defense. Although some members of the highest court felt otherwise, the case could not properly, under Georgia precedents, have been reversed on the general grounds, i.e. that the verdict was not supported by the evidence.

Similarly, in the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court from the denial of the writ of habeas corpus in the Northern District of Georgia (Frank v. Mangum) the present tendency is to consider the current interpretation of “due process” instead of that prevailing in 1913. Likewise, the Frank case is not clearly distinguished from subsequent “due process” case in which a somewhat different doctrine was enunciated; Frank’s attorneys had not sought a mistrial because of the outrageous clamor of the mob, and under the chain of decisions relied upon by the U.S. Supreme Court, he could not invoke his constitutional rights belatedly. That was the general concept the bar and courts held in 1913; it was erroneous, but the erroneous philosophy was not uncovered until more than a decade later, and Frank was not the only man to be convicted without genuine due process.

In some circles, the applications to various State legislatures for resolutions appealing to Georgia to grant Frank a new trial or commutation or a pardon have been severely criticized. Due to the belated interest in the case by the general Jewish community, it is true that this action was a fan to the flames of anti-Semitism and was something of a mistake; but it […] necessary again to consider the emotional climate and the semantics of 1913. For example, the words ‘nationalism’, ‘radical’, ‘Israel’, to select but three examples, did not have the meanings of 1953. In 1913, States rights had no such meaning as in 1953, and States like individuals understood the meaning of the words ‘a decent regard for the opinions of mankind’ in the identical sense of the author.* Colorado probably would today take a far different attitude about “outside interference” in a parallel to the case of Joe Hill; it is very unlikely that the prison authorities of any State would permit the removal of an executed prisoner’s body for the express purpose of spreading his ashes “where some flowers grow”, or that the press would recount in detail such a dispersal of ashes in every State of the Union and in more than forty foreign countries. There were too many ashes at Dachau for men to be concerned longer, in this year of human progress, with the fate of one individual.

*The words appear in the Declaration of Independence.

However, the open efforts to raise money for use in the Frank case was injurious. It provided the anti-Semite groups with arguments. Likewise, the silence of the Jewish community about the case until far too late, and its sudden concern after the conviction — while obviously now attributable to a reversal of attitude as to Frank’s guilt — was interpreted as a mass decision that “none of the Chosen shall die for murdering a gentile girl”.†

† One of the Jeffersonian articles contains this phrase.

A Minor Footnote on the Future

The explosions of the Populist and Free Silver period had brought the ‘Negro question’ to the attention of the South. Among the books most popular in the decade preceding and including the Frank trial were Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman and The Leopard’s Spots.

In the late summer of 1915, shortly after the lynching of Leo Frank, a small gathering of robed-and-hooded figures met on Stone Mountain and burned a cross.

Southern white, Gentile, Protestant womanhood henceforth would be protected from being forced into concubinage to the Negro, into the brothels maintained by Catholic monks, and into the harems maintained by lecherous Jews.

The Klan was created by naive men, intensely emotional. It did not remain their property long.

The Klan was born out of the murder of Mary Phagan and the lynching of a man who did not kill her. There is a certain irony in the fact that its death came because of the murder of Madge Oberholtzer at the hands of […] the Klan for Indiana.

Could the Frank Case be Repeated?

Could there be another Leo Frank case? That is the question that troubles seriously every member of a racial, ethnic, political or religious minority.

There are many changed factors. The legal background, especially as to what constitutes “due process of law”, is vastly different. Police methods have improved immeasurably; blood-typing, fingerprint identification, chemical analysis of soils and dusts, handwriting analysis, and other scientific approaches to the solution of crime have become commonplace. If Frank were alive today, if there were a similar crime in Atlanta, the investigation of the case would take a totally different turn; his guilt or innocence would rest of less subjective factors than in 1913.

Likewise there is a greater sophistication. In 1913, only Savannah among Georgia cities had a truly urban background; Atlanta’s population was swollen by a rural influx. In 1913, the names of Freud, Kraft-Ebbing, Jung and Kinsey were not household words. In 1913, the socio-industrial pattern did not provide for the employment of 54% of all women in Atlanta, more than half of them in industry. In 1913, newspapers were generally wholly irresponsible in the coverage of crime, which was a [diversion] somewhat similar to television; the spectacular methods of Pulitzer, the smug pornography of Bennett, the mercurial sensationalism of Hearst dominated press thinking.

Likewise, the Jewish community has (1) a greater unity; (2) added facilities within their own ranks and within the general community with which to deal with such a problem; and (3) increased experience in combatting the forces of prejudice.

Therefore, it would appear superficially that there could not be a repetition of the Frank case. But beneath the surface…

There are areas in the United States, especially in parts of New England, on the Pacific Coast, and in the newly industrialized rural-urban fringe areas of the Southeast, were a reasonable facsimile of the Frank case could occur. Of these regions, the Pacific Coast is inviting because of the presence of irresponsible smalltown newspapers; the West Coast of Florida because of the impact of industrialization within the citrus industry and a hostility toward the East Coast, and because of probably the highest incidence of latent anti-Semitism to be found outside a few areas in New England.

A depression, with economic stresses in operation in emotional areas, could produce a dangerous condition.

How Can This be Avoided?

In the combatting of overt anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League has been extraordinarily effective. It has been able to mobilize its natural allies among the Protestant and Catholic clergy, among groups zealous in the defense of civil rights, and among those who abhor intolerance and injustice.

But while the Jewish community can protect itself more effectively than before, when it is attacked, it is obvious that the solution lies partly in yet another field.

Had the Jews of Atlanta looked into the Frank case before it was too late, the situation would have been vastly different.

Had not the Jews of Atlanta taken, quite generally, the attitude that Frank was unquestionably guilty, until his cause became their cause because they too were attacked, the flames of bigotry would have expired.

If anybody had listened to Leo Frank…


No one listened to Leo Frank.

Almost from the day of his arrest until eleven months later, there were very few who concerned themselves with the question of his innocence. He was shunned as one who had brought shame and disaster on his coreligionists. There was no true appraisal of the case; his guilt — the guilt of a man who was a ‘moral monster’, a ‘pervert’, a ‘sex fiend’, a man who habitually consorted with lewd women — was assumed. That he was none of those things, and that not a single fact was ever produced to support the wild charges made in the press, never occurred to anyone until he had been found guilty and until that guilt had been transferred to the Jewish community as a whole.

Since his death, Leo Frank has been received, as the victim of a legal blunder and subsequently of a lynch mob, into the Jewish hagiology, and most of the events of 1913 inconsistent with that viewpoint have been thrust out of the mind, together with the guilt of his contemporaries. He is denied the humanity of being a very frightened, myopic, nervous, twitching, perhaps slightly unpleasant young man from Brooklyn; he is a cause celebre, and not a man who was alone, a stranger and afraid…

“It is terrible for an innocent man to be charged with crime…”

Audio Book – The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, part 23 Tue, 16 Oct 2018 03:15:41 +0000

William Smith, “volunteer” attorney for James Conley, who later alleged he had had a change of heart and believed Conley to be guilty.

by Philip St. Raymond
for The American Mercury

ATTORNEY WILLIAM SMITH traded his “free” services as a lawyer for James Conley for the influence of an agent of the William Burns detective agency, Dan Lehon, in an unrelated abduction case — illustrating either extreme naïveté or weak legal ethics on Smith’s part. Smith’s defection from advocate for Conley to accusing him of murder is a very strange about-face. But sudden about-faces abound in the Leo Frank case, especially involving people 1) who had strong evidence against Leo Frank, and 2) who subsequently had close contact with agents of the William Burns agency, who were working for Frank.

In this, the twenty-third audio segment of this ground-breaking work originally published by the Nation of Islam, part of their series called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, we will also learn of the shameless abuse of the family and legacy of Judge Leonard Roan, who two years earlier had presided over Frank’s trial. Judge Roan was visited on his deathbed by Leo Frank’s attorneys, who, shortly after the judge’s death, produced an alleged letter from him saying he believed Frank innocent and deserved a new trial — precisely what Frank’s attorneys were trying to achieve at the time. Both internal evidence in the letter itself — and statements from Judge Roan’s own family — indicate that the letter is a forgery.


This new audio book, based on the Nation of Islam’s The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, the best investigative effort made on the Leo Frank case in the last 100 years, will take you on a trip into the past — to the greatest American murder mystery of all time; a mystery that will reveal to you the hidden forces that shape our world even today.

To read all the chapters we’ve published so far, simply click on this link.

We at The American Mercury are now proud to present part 23 of our audio version of this very important book, read by Vanessa Neubauer.

Simply press “play” on the player embedded above — or at the end of this article — to hear part 23 of the book.

* * *

Click here to obtain a print or e-book copy of this important work, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 3; The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man.

For further information on the Nation of Islam Historical Research Group, readers are encouraged to visit their Web site,


Audio Book – The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, part 22 Thu, 11 Oct 2018 19:08:08 +0000

There is no doubt that Mary Phagan’s body was dragged from the elevator to where it was found in front of the furnace.

by Philip St. Raymond
for The American Mercury

ONE OF the weirdest aspects of the Leo Frank case was the — shall we say — strained effort of the Frank team to make some human excrement found in the National Pencil Company elevator shaft into a “proof” that Leo Frank was innocent of murdering Mary Phagan. This so-called “shit in the shaft” theory was based on the overwhelming fear of the Frank defense that the use of that elevator to move Mary’s body — evidenced by dragging marks in the basement’s dirt floor leading from the elevator to precisely where the body was found — was too damning for their client, since only Frank had a key to the elevator. The theory they crafted was that the excrement was deposited at the bottom of the shaft before the murder by James Conley, but was “crushed for the first time” when the detectives visited the basement after the murder — therefore, they claimed, the elevator could not have been used to move Mary’s body.


The “shit in the shaft” tale was used by Governor John Slaton as one of his reasons for commuting Frank’s sentence in 1915.

In this, the twenty-second audio segment of this ground-breaking work originally published by the Nation of Islam, part of their series called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, we will see how weak this theory really is. How could anyone tell that the feces was “crushed for the first time” when the detectives went down? Smell was put forward as the “proof” of this, but really — what a stretch; are they alleging it wouldn’t smell the second time? The shaft was uneven and filled with substantial — and loose — debris, any of which could have caused a shifting of the bottom of the elevator car, so that it might strike one object this time, and another object the next time. The car could be started and stopped manually, and it would be normal to stop it above the floor level if something heavy needed to be loaded or unloaded. We’ll also learn — among many other things in this content-rich book — about the almost unbelievable efforts the Frank forces employed to fabricate a “murder confession” on the part of James Conley — with one ADL official even making a public claim that Conley had confessed “thousands of times.”

This new audio book, based on the Nation of Islam’s The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, the best investigative effort made on the Leo Frank case in the last 100 years, will take you on a trip into the past — to the greatest American murder mystery of all time; a mystery that will reveal to you the hidden forces that shape our world even today.

To read all the chapters we’ve published so far, simply click on this link.

We at The American Mercury are now proud to present part 22 of our audio version of this very important book, read by Vanessa Neubauer.

Simply press “play” on the player embedded above — or at the end of this article — to hear part 22 of the book.

* * *

Click here to obtain a print or e-book copy of this important work, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 3; The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man.

For further information on the Nation of Islam Historical Research Group, readers are encouraged to visit their Web site,


Mincey Story Declared Vital To Both Sides in Frank Case Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:40:22 +0000

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 20, 1913


The most important and interesting development of the week in the Phagan case was the Mincey affidavit, directing suspicion more surely in the direction of James Conley than ever before, if the affidavit is that of a credible witness.

If what Mincey says is true—if his evidence can be made to “stand up” in court—then he is far and away not only the most important witness yet discovered, but his testimony will serve to clear up the mysterious Phagan case in its most obscure phases.

Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey has attacked Mincey’s credibility. Naturally, he would do that.

If Mincey is worthy of belief and is speaking the truth, he has dealt the State’s case against Frank a deadly blow, from which it can not hope to recover.

If he does not speak the truth, and that can be established, it will redound fo [sic] the hurt of the defense, for it will have a bracing-up effect upon Conley’s other story.

But Who Is Mincey?

Who is Mincey? Nobody knows much about him.

Dorsey says he is not to be credited, but he fails to say in detail why.

Mincey’s card in The Georgian, certainly had the ring of straightforwardness.

So, however, had Dr. Cook’s story of his discovery (?) of the North Pole.

Cook’s story was by all odds the best story ever told of the Far Frozen North—but it exploded when it was put to the test. Nine men in ten preferred to believe Cook rather than Perry—but nowadays everybody believes Perry, despite his “bad manners,” and so forth, when he was speaking the truth.

If James Conley did say to Mincey, Conley being apparently half-drunk at the time, “I have killed one girl to-day, and I don’t want to kill anybody else!” and if that fact can be established categorically, it will clear Leo Frank beyond the shadow of a doubt!

If that fact can not be established, however, after the Mincey affidavit has been exploited, it will tend to strengthen the State, and to that extent must damage Frank most seriously.

Detective Lanford says Mincey stated at police headquarters that Conley was not the man he had met—”that it clearly was some other negro.”

Visit to Factory Recalled.

Mincey denies that he said that, but he admits he did not immediately identify Conley, because he was not sure of his company at the minute and kept his own counsel.

The factory people say Mincey did come to the factory, as he says, and make inquiry as to the negroes there, and that he was, perhaps, as he says, rather brusquely treated.

At that time James Conley had not been remotely connected with the Phagan case, and the factory people did not know what Mincey was driving at exactly. Mincey at that time did not even know Conley’s name.

If, however, it be shown that Conley DID say to Mincey what Mincey says he said, it still will be contended, though I think with small hope of success, that it is not conclusive evidence that Conley killed Mary Phagan.

Undoubtedly it would not be that as an isolated proposition, but taken in connection with other things attaching to Conley as a suspect, it would be a smashing piece of evidence against the negro.

To be sure, negroes, half drunk especially, are apt, as a rule, to brag about things that they HAVEN’T done rather than things they HAVE—and to that extent the contention that Mincey’s affidavit, at best, is weak would hold good.

But Conley’s own admission of his presence in the factory on the day of the homicide, his series of lies after suspicion began falling in his direction, his amazing affidavits and counter-affidavits, and the discrepancies in his last affidavit—these, in connection with the Mincey affidavit, make a strong case against him.

Interest Centers in Mincey.

The more spectacular interest in the Phagan case now undoubtedly centers in Mincey.

The Grand Jury will meet tomorrow to consider the indictment of Conley.

It would be unusual for the Grand Jury to indict Conley, with an indictment already standing against Frank for the same offense. It would not be an unheard of thing, however.

Grand Juries are laws unto themselves. They may indict whom they please and when they please.

Indeed, the law and their oaths make it imperative that a Grand Jury indict ALL persons they believe deserving of indictment, regardless of whether that indictment effects pending cases advantageously or disadvantageously.

If the present Grand Jury, upon a one-sided hearing, believes Mincey is speaking the truth in his remarkable affidavit, it will indict Conley, I think.

If it does not believe the Mincey affidavit—if it can be made NOT to believe it, to put it the other way—it will not, of course, indict Conley.

Which will it do?

That is the pretty puzzle in the Phagan case to-day!

Of Far-Reaching Import.

Nothing that has happened, in many aspects of the matter, since the beginning of the Phagan investigation, is so important or possible of such far-reaching results as the Mincey statement.

And that statement, primarily, looks dangerous to the State in the Frank case, and very helpful to it in the case against Conley, when it gets there, if it ever does.

Upon the State in the trial of Frank will fall the burden of breaking it down. Can the State do it?

That is what the State unquestionably is asking itself to-day. That is the thing that plainly is making the State most uneasy, in so far as the case against Frank is concerned.

About it will center the question of Conley’s future status—whether he will continue as an admitted accessory after the fact or become a principal to the murder of Mary Phagan.

That is the thing the Grand Jury will thrash out with itself this week.

It may be said positively that not since the Phagan case first came into public notice has any development been watched with that degree of interest the public generally feels now in the outcome of the Grand Jury’s anticipated meeting to-morrow.

Curiously enough, too, if the State goes TOO FAR in breaking down Mincey in the Frank case, it will hurt itself immeasurably in the trial of Conley later on, in the event of Frank’s acquittal and Conley’s subsequent indictment.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, July 20th 1913, “Mincey Story Declared Vital To Both Sides in Frank Case,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Counsel of Frank Says Dorsey Has Sought to Hide Facts Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:34:11 +0000

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 20, 1913

Attorneys Rosser and Arnold, in a Statement to the Press, Make Bitter Attack on Solicitor for His Conduct of Phagan Case.

Call Attention to Secrecy Maintained by Prosecution, and Declare Action of State’s Attorney Has Inflamed Public Opinion.

Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, attorneys for Leo M. Frank, who will be tried July 29 on the charge of killing Mary Phagan, joined Saturday in a bitter attack upon the policy of Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey, whose procedure in the case, they said, had inflamed public opinion and had placed the Solicitor far below the dignity of his office.

In a formal statement, they charged that Dorsey had ignored his constitutional and legal functions and had sought to usurp those of the Grand Jury by his attempt to block the indictment of Jim Conley by that body.

They described his action as unprecedented and dangerous in the extreme, and represented Dorsey and Conley as partners in “a harmonious concert.”

The document, which is one of the few public statements issued by the defense, is bristling with criticism of the Solicitor’s conduct throughout the investigation of the murder mystery, and charges that Dorsey has maintained his belief in Frank’s guilt apparently for no other purpose than to convict Frank.

Call Attention to Secrecy.

Attention is called to the secrecy with which evidence is being gathered by the prosecution “in manufacturing its case against Frank,” as though an innocent man—as the law contemplates Frank until he is proved guilty—should not be given the advantage of a knowledge of every shred of evidence which may be found for or against him, so that it may be presented, if favorable, and that it may be met and disproved if false.

Disclaiming any intention of criticising the previous Grand Jury, Attorneys Rosser and Arnold cite the circumstance of Conley’s first confession, into which he was forced by the discovery that he could write after he steadfastly had denied he could, and asserted that the Solicitor had been asked to bring this incident to the attention of the Grand Jury, but that he, if report were true, actually directed that it be not done.

Another indication of the Solicitor’s alleged domination over the Grand Jury was contained, said the attorneys for the defense, in his reported action in insisting that the jurors pledge themselves not to act in any way on the suggested Conley indictment during his absence on a vacation.

Statement of Defense.

The statement, in full, follows:

Counsel for Leo M. Frank have refrained from making a statement for the papers except under strong provocation. Clearly counsel on both sides should refrain from any comment of or criticism on any action of the Grand Jury to be taken at its meeting next Monday, which might tend to hamper or limit the Grand Jury in their action upon the Conley case.

The Grand Jury is an independent body; it is under the control of no one.

A Solicitor General is the adviser of that body as to legal principles merely, but he has no right to exercise any sort of control in determining who shall or shall not be indicted.

To permit a Solicitor General to use the position intrusted to him by the people to decide for himself who shall and who shall not be indicted is a danger too great to be contemplated.

Reply to Solicitor.

With this preliminary statement we reluctantly make a reply to Solicitor Dorsey’s interview in this morning’s paper.

It is rather remarkable that the Solicitor General and a person admitting complicity in a grave crime should get together in such harmonious concert of action as these two interviews show.

Mr. Dorsey admits that the indictment of Conley will have only a “mild but undesirable effect on the state’s case against Leo M. Frank.”

Ought the solicitor general for one moment to be influenced in his advice to the grand jury by any consideration of the effect upon anybody’s case?

It is not our understanding that the grand jury is organized to aid the solicitor general in his management of cases in court; their function is a higher one. They investigate every case of probable guilt and return an indictment. It could just as well be argued that the indictment of Frank might have had a mild but undesirable effect on Conley’s case in case Conley had been first indicted.

The position of the solicitor general in this case has from the beginning been most remarkable. It has been heretofore understood that the solicitor was to try cases sent to him by the grand jury, but in this case, detective-like, the solicitor is seeking to determine who shall be indicted.

Dorsey Sharply Criticized.

Forgetting his legal and constitutional functions, he is undertaking to control the action of the grand jury.

The citizens of this county elected Mr. Dorsey as solicitor general, but Mr. Dorsey has mistaken the purpose of his election. Evidently he believes that he was elected to be also the grand jury.

The Solicitor General does his duty when he tries to the best of his ability cases sent to him by the grand jury. The solicitor falls far below the dignity of his office when he inflames public opinion thereby inducing a conviction, innocent or guilty.

The solicitor has closed his eyes to these plain truths and has rushed into print day by day proclaiming the guilt of Frank and the innocence of this negro apparently for no purpose but to convict Frank, innocent or guilty, for the gratification of his professional pride.

So far has the state’s counsel forgotten the function of a prosecutor, which is only to ascertain the truth and convict the guilty, that Mr. Dorsey’s detective assistant Chief Lanford in an interview in this morning’s paper, uses the following language as to the Pinkerton Detective Scott and Lanford’s refusal to allow him to see Conley.

Score State’s Secrecy.

“We did not want to embarrass Scott by requesting him to keep silent and did not risk the probability of letting new developments reach Frank’s attorneys, therefore we were forced to prevent him from seeing the negro.”

It seems, therefore, a matter for great endeavor on the part of the state as the solicitor and his associate detective sees it to keep whatever facts they rely upon to convict Frank from the defendant and his attorneys and the public.

If the facts in the solicitor’s possession were the truth, why so much fear as to letting them out? Is it possible that the effort is to ambush the defendant by the proof of circumstances on the trial which he has no opportunity to meet or explain? Is it possible that the state’s object is to keep the defendant in the dark as to the state’s evidence and to so conduct its case that he will have no opportunity to know the facts relied upon to convict him and no opportunity to clearly meet them and disprove them if they be false?

Solicitor’s Action Attacked.

The solicitor has undertaken in this case to hold certain witnesses in custody. He undertook to do this in the case of the negro Conley, but so fearful was he that the negro might dare to tell all he knew that he went through the farce of requesting the superior court to no longer incarcerate Conley and to discharge him and immediately upon obtaining this order of discharge he went through the greater farce of having him loosed upon the streets and then immediately and illegally returning him to the city station house where he now is carefully watched, counselled, and interviewed by the solicitor, his assistant Mr. Hooper, and his detective assistants.

We have no criticism of the former grand jury, but some things happened before it as reported that tend at least to provoke serious inquiry.

When Leo M. Frank’s case was before the grand jury and in the midst of it Conley made his first confession, forced thereto by the discovery that he could write. It was suggested to the solicitor that this confession be brought to the grand jury’s attention. That would have been a fair thing to do. It was not done and rumor has it that Mr. Dorsey directed that it be not done.

One other thing is almost incredible. According to the public prints, when the solicitor wanted a vacation, he was so afraid that the grand jury might act in his absence that he sought to extract a promise from these sworn servants of the State not to indict in his absence.

Question Precedent.

When before was it ever suggested to a Grand Jury that they must await the termination of a pleasure trip before they should indict in any case where indictment was necessary?

Little need be said in reply to lawyer W.M. Smith’s interview given in support of the solicitor’s petition.

It is remarkable that the solicitor has to rely for support upon an argument made by Conley’s counsel. It is, however, appropriate that he should bolster up the solicitor as he depends mightily upon the solicitor to protect his negro, Conley. Conley’s counsel realizes who is Conley’s friend and rushes in print to his rescue.

We are publishing this interview neither in an effort to have Conley indicted nor in an effort to have him not indicted. That is a matter solely for the grand jury. We are not making any appeal to them or to anybody else as to the effect Conley’s indictment would have on the Frank case.

So far as we are concerned we feel that the failure of the Solicitor General to secure an indictment against a confessed accessory to the crime of murder would make far more capital in favor of Frank upon his trial than if he were indicted. We think any jury, and we think any community, would resent the rank favoritism shown this confessed criminal.


* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, July 20th 1913, “Counsel of Frank Says Dorsey Has Sought to Hide Facts,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Audio Book – The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, part 21 Mon, 08 Oct 2018 23:42:02 +0000

by Philip St. Raymond
for The American Mercury

THE “death notes” left beside Mary Phagan’s body when she was murdered in 1913 have been the subject of endless speculation. Were the notes written by James Conley at the direction of Mary’s convicted killer, Leo Frank? — or were they Conley’s creation alone? — or were they purpose-written by Frank, using Conley’s writing as a guide, in order to throw suspicion away from the real killer and onto a Black man?


In this, the twenty-first audio segment of this ground-breaking work originally published by the Nation of Islam, part of their series called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, we will learn what handwriting experts say about the notes, and we will also learn how the historical record has been distorted by Leo Frank partisans such as author Steve Oney.

This new audio book, based on the Nation of Islam’s The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, the best investigative effort made on the Leo Frank case in the last 100 years, will take you on a trip into the past — to the greatest American murder mystery of all time; a mystery that will reveal to you the hidden forces that shape our world even today.

To read all the chapters we’ve published so far, simply click on this link.

We at The American Mercury are now proud to present part 21 of our audio version of this very important book, read by Vanessa Neubauer.

Simply press “play” on the player embedded above — or at the end of this article — to hear part 21 of the book.

* * *

Click here to obtain a print or e-book copy of this important work, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 3; The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man.

For further information on the Nation of Islam Historical Research Group, readers are encouraged to visit their Web site,


Audio Book – The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, part 20 Sun, 07 Oct 2018 20:58:33 +0000

The death notes found near Mary Phagan’s body – click for high resolution

by Philip St. Raymond
for The American Mercury

ONE OF the most mysterious aspects of the Leo Frank case is the series of “death notes,” four of which were written, according to testimony, but only two of which were ever found. They were discovered right next to the dead body of Frank’s victim, 13-year-old Mary Phagan. If taken at face value, they appear as though they were written by Mary while she was being assaulted. But they also are written in an approximation of the African-American vernacular of that time and in a semi-literate style that Mary Phagan would have been extremely unlikely to use. Were they written by a Black killer, in a hopelessly botched attempt to throw investigators off the trail? Or were they created by a clever killer to make us think that the murderer was a Black man? Were they perhaps even dictated by the killer to a compliant Black man to write, who would thereby impose his genuine style — and handwriting — on them? (ILLUSTRATION: Two of the four murder notes — the other two were never found.)

In this, the twentieth audio segment of this ground-breaking work originally published by the Nation of Islam, part of their series called The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, we also learn that the latter scenario — with Leo Frank dictating the notes to James Conley — is exactly what Conley said actually happened. Much has been made by Frank partisans of the fact that Conley’s language on the stand more or less matched the style and usage of the notes, claiming that this rules out Frank having dictated them. But that claim has little merit, for it seems very unlikely that Frank would want to dictate the notes word for word: Allowing Conley to put them in his own words and style would have served Frank’s purpose much better. We’ll also learn of the glaring weaknesses of Frank’s other alibis, many of which appear to have been hastily and sloppily cobbled together at the last minute.


This new audio book, based on the Nation of Islam’s The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man, the best investigative effort made on the Leo Frank case in the last 100 years, will take you on a trip into the past — to the greatest American murder mystery of all time; a mystery that will reveal to you the hidden forces that shape our world even today.

To read all the chapters we’ve published so far, simply click on this link.

We at The American Mercury are now proud to present part 20 of our audio version of this very important book, read by Vanessa Neubauer.

Simply press “play” on the player embedded above — or at the end of this article — to hear part 20 of the book.

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Click here to obtain a print or e-book copy of this important work, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Vol. 3; The Leo Frank Case: The Lynching of a Guilty Man.

For further information on the Nation of Islam Historical Research Group, readers are encouraged to visit their Web site,


Prison System of Georgia Attacked by Episcopalians Sun, 07 Oct 2018 20:46:15 +0000

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, July 20, 1913

The Episcopalian diocese of Georgia, at its annual convention, appointed a social service commission, which has since met and formulated the following special report on prison and child labor conditions in this state.

“Resolved, That the prison system of the state of Georgia, and the methods of punishment now in use and as commonly administered, are unworthy of an enlightened and progressive state.

“Resolved, That we hereby indorse the splendid efforts of the Prison Reform association of this state, and offer to them our hearty co-operation in securing needed reforms.

“Resolved, That we send copies of these resolutions to as many members of our legislature as possible, and urge them to support those bills now pending which bear on the subject of prison reform in the state of Georgia and which are advocated by the prison association.

“Resolved, That we also urge upon our representatives their support of the child labor bill, advocated and indorsed by the National Child Labor association.”

Copies of these resolutions are being mailed to the legislators, and many of them have already expressed themselves strongly in favor of the measures reerred [sic] to. The three general prison reform measures have already been recommended for passage by the house committee. They are the bill to legalize the suspension of sentence and appoint probation officers; the bill to establish a home for wayward girls; the bill providing for jail inspections and enlarging the powers and responsibilities of the prison commission.

The chairman of the commission which formulated the above report is Rev. G.S. Whitney, of Augusta. The commission is authorized to represent the Episcopal church in the southeastern section of the state in all esforts [sic] for social betterment. It represents some 5,000 communicants or about 7,500 baptized members of the Episcopal church residing in the southeastern half of the state of Georgia.

Colonel G.A. Gordon and Miss Helen Pendleton, of Savannah, are among the prominent members of the commission.

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The Atlanta Constitution, July 20th 1913, “Prison System of Georgia Attacked by Episcopalians,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Grim Justice Pursues Mary Phagan’s Slayer Sun, 07 Oct 2018 20:44:08 +0000

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, July 20, 1913

As Famous Murder Case Nears Trial the Public Mind Again Reverts to the Discovery of the Crime; and Again the Great Question Comes Up:

“What Happened in the Pencil Factory Between Noon Saturday and 3:15 Sunday Morning?”

By Britt Craig.

Automobile in which detectives and newspaper men went to the scene of the murder. In the machine are Detective Starnes, Harry Scott, W. W. (Boots) Rogers and John Black.

There are things that happen right before our eyes that defy the pen of a god to describe. The mind of a master would find itself lamentably incompetent, and the words of a Demosthenes would become panic-stricken in the attempt.

One of these was the night Mary Phagan’s body was found. It was a night as dramatic as the fury of a queen and poignant as her sorrow. It wrote the first thrilling chapter of Atlanta’s greatest criminal case, and it will live forever in the minds of those who knew it.

This story is no effort at description, because description is impossible. It is just a plain, ordinary story of the happenings that night when Newt Lee went down into the basement to wash his hands and emerged, overcome with fear, the discoverer of a crime that put an entire state in mourning.

A week from tomorrow, Leo Frank, manager of the pencil factory, where Mary Phagan’s body was found, will be placed on trial charged with the murder of the young girl, and interest in this mysterious crime again goes back to the night when Newt Lee startled police headquarters with news of his grewsome find.

Finding the Body.

Spot where Mary Phagan’s dead body was found. Detective John Black is shown in the picture.

Newt was nightwatchman in the factory of the National Pencil company on South Forsyth street. He is a typical negro and on the afternoon preceding his discovery, just to show how typical he is, he had spent the whole of two leisure hours allotted to him watching a negro play a banjo and sing cotton field songs at a patent medicine show on Decatur street.

It was between 3 and 3:30 a. m. that night when he arose from the desk in the office where he had been scribbling pictures of cats and dogs and railroad trains to while away the lonesome hours, and picked up his sooty lantern to make a tour of the plant. The world outside was fast asleep, and the only sound was the occasional faraway rap of a policeman’s night stick.

The building was dark and gloomy as a tomb and his footsteps created uncanny sounds. Something in the atmosphere of loneliness inspired him to hum the ancient strain:

“I got a gal in de white folks’ yard,
Brings me butter ‘n brings me lard,
Can’t help but love her, so help me Gawd—
Shout mourners, you shall be free!”

Newt went to the first floor where the big watchman’s clock ticks incessantly on the wall near the bottom of the steps. It was the only lifelike thing in the building, and Newt, like all other nightwatchmen, felt a deep attachment to clocks that tick-tock so humanly through the lonely hours of night.

The hands stood somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:15, showing that his tri-nightly trip into the basement was due. It wasn’t an inviting place, this basement, and Newt, as any other typical negro would do, made it a point not to make any more than the three required trips thereinto.

His “Watching” Perfunctory.

Mary Phagan, the young victim of a most mystifying murder.

It was his custom to go only to the bottom of the ladder that ran from the scuttle hole, from which point he surveyed what little of the cellar that could be perceived by the light of his lantern. Very seldom did he venture further. He preferred the upper floor, with its machinery and the lifelike clock and less possibility of ghosts and spooks.

That night, however, he wanted to wash his hands. Spots of ink had clung to his fingers as he had sketched the cats and dogs at the office desk. The superintendent had forbidden him the use of any but the basement sink, and it was there that he always performed his meager ablutions.

With a courage a negro manages to muster only when he drives from his mind all thought of everything, Newt descended the shaky ladder. A tiny flame flickered from a gas jet directly beneath the scuttle hole, but beyond the interior was as black as the soul of night.

Humming his tune so as to keep his mind vacant of other things, including fear, he walked to the sink. It was midway of the basement, just beyond the furnace. The darkness and solitude seemed so intense that he could almost feel it, and his steps beat upon his ears with a creepy thudding.

He set his lantern down beside the sink and washed his hands. Then he dried them on a newspaper. As he picked up the lantern to return to the scuttle hole it revealed something over in the corner just behind the edge of the partition that ran half the length of the basement.

Negro “Seed Something.”

It was an object that looked human and apparently had on a dress. Newt looked at it closely, his eyes attracted to the spot like a bird’s might be attracted by the charm of an adder. The longer he looked the tighter did something close itself around his stomach, and the more convincingly did the object assume human proportions.

It lay prone in the sawdust, and what appeared to be an arm was stretched lifeless from the shoulder.

He suspected it was a joke, and that someone had put a dummy in the basement to frighten him. He hoped it was! But, dummy or not, it certainly looked human—too human, in fact, for the uncongenial surroundings.

Impelled by a combination of emotions composed mostly of curiosity and fear, Newt strode to the spot. He picked up the lifeless arm. The flesh yielded beneath his grip. It dropped limply to the sawdust.

A panic no man can picture seized him. He wheeled around. The rush of air blew out the flame in his lantern. There was nothing left but darkness, thick, impenetrable darkness that shrouded even the glow of the gas jet at the scuttle hole. That and a quietude overwhelming.

Uttering a shriek that reached only the ears of the dead, he sprang erect and plunged headlong into the inky space ahead.

“Headquarters” Suddenly Awakens.

National Pencil Company building, on Forsyth street, in Atlanta, where Mary Phagan’s body was found.

Police headquarters had been dull and sleepy, an unusual condition for a Saturday night. Sergeant Sells, on the desk, had complained of underwork and the motorcycle men, lounging drowsily in their chairs, agreed that crime wasn’t what it used to be.

The hands of the clock pointed somewhere around 3:30. Boots Rogers, an ex-county policeman, dozed in an easy chair, too contented to go home until breakfast time. His big touring car stood at the burn on the outside.

The reporters on the police run for the Sunday papers had all gone home at 2:30—all except one, a Constitution man, who lived across town and was waiting for Rogers to ride him home in the auto.

Policeman Anderson answered the telephone that rang exactly at 3:30. Headquarters dozed on. Telephone calls, even at 3:30 a. m., are more or less insignificant. There was not even a stir as the policeman entered the booth.

“Is this police station?” came over the wire in an excited tone.

“Yep. What’s the trouble?”

“Somebody’s killed up here ‘t the pencil factory on F’syth street. Hit’s—”

Anderson dropped the receiver and left it swinging on the cord. He jumped from the booth and called to Sells:

“Killing up on Forsyth street!”

“Who is it?” asked Sells, sarcastically, as he swung a record book to the stack above his desk.

“I’m no mind-reader,” retorted Anderson, diving for the door.

The place became alive, Rogers awoke from his doze and jumped to his feet.

“Get in my car,” he called. “I’ll run you up.”

The Constitution reporter had reached for a telephone.

“Wait a second,” he was asking. “Let me call the office—there ought to be a story in this.”

“Wait like a lizard,” blazed Anderson. “Think we’re going to murders on schedule?”

The reporter’s office went unnotified.

Hurry-Up Run to Factory.

At a 40-mile clip Rogers whirled the policemen up Decatur street toward Five Points. At Decatur and Pryor Sergeants Dobbs and Brown were encountered. They jumped into the machine at Anderson’s call. Like a racing demon gone mad, the big car snorted through the uptown district and turned down Forsyth at Marietta street.

The pencil factory building stands almost midway of the block between Alabama and Hunter streets. It is four stories high and looms far above its neighboring structures. There is something in its black and gloomy aspect that is, itself, suggestive of tragedy. A wee light from a gas jet on the second flood [sic] flickered feebly like a beacon of lost hope.

The machine rolled alongside the curb and stopped with a roar. Its occupants clambered out. There were no lights on the first floor, and the interior looked as lifeless as the body Newt Lee had discovered in the cellar. Not knowing what to expect, but in preparation for anything, the policemen drew their pistols.

Anderson knocked at the door. No answer came. A suggestion was made to break through the glass, when there was a commotion in the vicinity of the stairway, down which came a streak of light—the lantern in the negro’s hands as he scampered down the steps from the office to which he had fled in fear.

The newcomers rushed in as he opened the door. Their presence seemed to inspire courage. His teeth chattered and the lantern trembled in his fingers.

Lee Glad to See Officers.

“Lord!” he exclaimed, “I’m glad you come. It’s a girl, dead, down there.” He indicated the scuttle hole to the basement with a quivering finger.

The reporter was nearest it. Some news instinct that makes the newspaper man the luckiest of professionals guided him first into the black and yawning opening. Rogers followed. Before the shivering negro could chatter another word, the entire party had scrambled into the cellar. Lee was the last to enter.

Weird shadows danced on the walls from the dim glow of the lone jet. Rogers and the reporter forged their way through the darkness. Swinging his lantern, Newt was coming behind. Suddenly, he warned:

“Look out, white folks—you’ll step on it!”

He took the lead. Someone slipped and fell in the treacherous sawdust that gave way beneath the feet. The crunch, crunch of feet were the only sounds. The odor of pencil wood and lead pervaded the place almost stiflingly. Its smell will forever bring tragic recollection.

When the lantern’s rays fell upon the form that lay rigid and mutilated in the recess, the knot of men were too startled to move. The intense darkness and sight of the spectacle struck them momentarily powerless. It was a scene that a wholesome mind can attribute to only the stage-managership of Satan.

The body lay on its face. The long tangles of brown hair that straggled over the sawdust told that the girl was white and the dress that reached only to the knees, that she was a child. A jagged gash in the skull bespoke murder. Rigor-mortis had set in. Death had resulted hours ago.

Sergeant Dobbs was the first [to] speak:

“And this in a civilized country!”

Oratory will play a dominant part in the Phagan case, and it will be oratory of a masterful kind, but that simple little sentence, spoken by the policeman as he stood over the lifeless form in the basement darkness, will stand, unquestioned, the most eloquent and damning.

The mysterious murder notes, that went unsolved for weeks, were found, side by side, within a foot of the body. Suspicion, as is always the case with the police mind, was promptly directed to the negro. Someone flatly accused him. He was too astonished to reply. At length he stammered:

“Good God, boss! Do you think I’d do a thing like that?”

As he pointed a tremulous finger at the corpse, and all eyes were turned upon it, it was hard to conceive that any human could have done it. But it had been done. No one was dreaming. The body lay before them, ghastly proof of a fiend’s work. There were no baboons or monsters in metropolitan Atlanta. Someone was guilty—someone human.

So they put the handcuffs on Newt, the discoverer.

To fully convince themselves that the negro was guilty, the policemen made him go through a pantomime of his discovery. It would have driven Belasco’s greatest achievement to shame. There, in a solitude of the grave, with the basement for a stage and the policemen’s electric torches for light, the negro enacted a drama over the body of a slaughtered child that would strike terror to the heart of an audience.

“Third Degree” for Negro.

With a composure that comes from the reaction of panic, he clenched the lantern in his manacled hands and went graphically through every detail of his actions. It was, in itself, a third-degree that would have extracted confession from the hardest-hearted of murderers. Newt Lee manifested his innocence in an eloquence far greater than speech when he pantomimed his discovery.

But the police weren’t convinced. They sent him to headquarters to satisfy a public that demands immediate arrests in such cases.

With an arrest made, two substantial clues obtained in the murder notes, and a search being carried on for more, it became necessary to identify the victim. Rogers drove in his car for Miss Grace Hicks, a relative who lives at 100 McDonough road, and who is an employee of the pencil factory.

The body still lay in the position in which it was discovered, when she encountered the basement, sleepy-eyed and drowsy from the sleep from which she had been aroused. With a single glance at the upturned face, scarred and purple and swollen, she uttered a cry that pierced the building, and swooned into the arms of her kinsman.

“It’s Mary Phagan!” she wailed. “My God, who killed her?”

Sobbingly, she told the policemen of her attachment to the girl whose body lay stretched before her. They had worked side by side at the same machine. For years they had been inseparable chums. Mary was the sweetest girl in the factory and the prettiest.

It seemed a crime of Fate that she, of all others, should be called to identify the corpse of her friend.

She resisted being led away, begging to stay beside the body. The undertakers came and wrapped it in a tarpaulin and carried it away. A newspaper photographer came and made a flashlight of the spot. Detectives arrived and took charge of the scene with characteristic officiousness. Then came the inevitable mob of the curious.

Daybreak mounted over the skyscrapers and streaked the sky with purple. The city began to awaken. Less than an hour passed, and the night Mary Phagan’s body was found retreated before the brilliance of a Sabbath sun.

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The Atlanta Constitution, July 20th 1913, “Grim Justice Pursues Mary Phagan’s Slayer,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)