Steel Workers Enthralled by Leo Frank Trial

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 14th, 1913

There is one class of men to whom death is supposed to hold no horrors. They can not think of it and earn their daily bread. Were the fear of loss of life to enter their brain for one single second during their daily task, they would be as useless as a motorless automobile.

Their pay is high for scorning the grave. They can see one of their companions fall victim to the perils of their calling and go back to work on the same job a few minutes later without a tremor, and encounter those same dangers with footstep firm and their minds only on the work they have to do.

These men are the structural steel workers. They are as picturesque a class as the struggle for dollars has developed. The fascination of their calling is universal. No man can pass the place where a building is slowly reaching its way into the clouds without standing in an awe-struck trance watching these men scamper around between heaven and earth as though they were walking about a place as safe as the quiet walk under the shade trees of Grant Park.

Furnish a Bizarre Feature.

And these men make one of the strangest studies of all the bizarre features of the trial of Leo Frank.

Just across Hunter street from Judge Roan’s courtroom, where the factory superintendent is fighting to clear his name of the charge of having killed Mary Phagan, Fulton County’s magnificent new temple of justice is nearing completion.

But there is still work to be done on the dizzy heights of the upper stories. The men of the building trades are there and their interest in the dramatic court battle that is being waged within a stone’s throw of them is as intense as is the interest of any of those who have sat through the tedious days of the hearing constant spectators of the trial.

These builders, from their lofty working place across the street, can peer through the courtroom windows and see the trial as it progresses. They can not hear a word of the evidence. They miss the forensic clashes of the counsel.

Dare Death to Watch.

But still there is not a moment of the time that the case is in progress that life and limb are not risked by these men as they stare into the courtroom.

They can see Frank as he sits through hour after hour of his great ordeal. They can get glimpses of the faces of his wife and mother, of the witnesses as they take the stand, and of the Judge on the bench. They can see the bulky back of Luther Rosser and the energetic gestures of Hugh Dorsey. That is all.

To see these things they must lean far out from their insecure perches, with death certain if they should fall to the pavement a hundred feet below.

There is but one explanation for their interest. They know a man is fighting for his life in that courtroom across the street.

And while death may have no terrors for them, it has a fascination as subtle as the stare of a serpent’s eye to a bird, as strong as the rivets of steel with which they earn their livelihood.

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Atlanta Georgian, August 14th 1913, “Steel Workers Enthralled With Leo Frank Trial,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)