Mother’s Love Gives Trial Its Great Scene

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 16th, 1913


Every human emotion has been paraded during the long three weeks of the Frank trial.

There has been pathos. Comedy has opposed tragedy. Science has met sympathy. Truth has been arrayed against fiction. Negro has conflicted with white.

The erudite Arnold has matched wits with the thick-lipped, thick-skulled Conley. Luther Rosser, stern, determined and skillful, has had to try to meet the machinations of a brain of a cornfield negro, Newt Lee.

Hugh Dorsey, young and determined, Frank Hooper, smiling and ambitious, have breast to breast encountered the battles of Rosser and the rapier of Arnold.

There remained but one thing—the dramatic touch that sends the violins trembling a high crescendo and the hearts of the audience beating a long roll in double time.

It was furnished during the past week.

The Mother’s Part.

It was furnished by the person that a Belasco would have picked for the part. The touch was added by the person to whom the trial means more than a seat in high heaven—a woman whose son is on trial for his life.

The stage had been appropriately set for the dramatic effect. The audience had a man of unquestioned wealth back of him, with a little girl of the common masses of the common people called the victim of his degenerate lust.

Atlanta’s most noted criminal lawyers confronted a young prosecutor and a young lawyer who is seeking the accolade of the bar.

A cornfield “nigger” had told his simple story. There was even the air of minstreley in his testimony, though it was as black as the charge against the man who looked on him calmly and unafraid during the minutes and hours in which he spoke words that helped the opposition in its desire to fasten a rope around his neck.

This same man had sat coolly when another negro, a being of a different type, had told a story as sinister as Satan, as awful as the wrath of Jove. He sat, and without a noticeable change of expression, heard this being accuse him of a deed as dark as murder.

And all though this ordeal a woman had sat near the accused man. Her eyes had faced his accusers. They had faced them boldly. Her bearing was remarkable.

The Last Straw.

But a straw will break a camel’s back, the old saw declares.

The straw fell, and the camel’s back caved as dynamite destroys.

But the break came unexpectedly.

Ashley Jones, an insurance man, had told of Frank’s good character on the witness stand.

He paused for cross-examination. Solicitor General Dorsey asked him if he knew of any acts of perversion Frank had committed.

Then the volcano that had been dormant for ages became active. Then the race that has endured martyrdom broke its silence. Then the mother, who believes in her heart that her boy could do no wrong, spoke.

“He never heard such a thing, and neither have you,” and her voice was blazing when she spoke it.

Then the drama was furnished. The audience rose from the seats. Eyes were fixed. Breaths were shortly drawn. Seconds seemed hours.

It had taken mother love, the tenderest of all passions, to furnish the incident that had really stirred.

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Atlanta Georgian, August 16th 1913, “Mother’s Love Gives Trial Its Great Scene,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)