Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 7th, 1913
By James B. Nevin
Now that James Conley has been dismissed from the Frank trial, now that he has stood safely the fire of Mr. Rosser’s most exhaustive grilling, what of him?
If Frank is convicted, Conley subsequently will be convicted, no doubt, of being an accessory after the fact of Mary Phagan’s murder—and that will mean three years, at most, in the penitentiary.
After that—when the Frank trial, more or less, has been forgotten—Conley will be a liberty to come back amongst the people of Atlanta.
Not far from Five Points, a little due east along one of the big thoroughfares meeting there, there is a negro bootblack who now and then, when he is on the job, which frequently he isn’t, gives me a “shine” so much to my liking that it brings me back on other days.
He is a sort of Jim Conley negro—at least, he has a smattering of education, an ingratiating air, and is polite, particularly when it pays him to be.
Quite without previous design, I stopped at this negro’s stand Wednesday afternoon, and it was not long before he mentioned the famous trial. He having started the conversation, I asked him a few questions—and his replies, given herein in part, rather set me to thinking.
“Complimented on All Sides.”
“George,” I said—not that I know his name is George, but that it so happens I address negroes unknown of name that way—“what do your friends down on Decatur street think of Jim Conley’s story over yonder in the big court? Rather clever, negro, Jim, eh?” said I to this bootblack.
“Well, boss, dat Mr. Rosser ain’t made nothing on Jim yit, is he?” replied George.
I ventured the opinion that Mr. Rosser failed, at least, to make Jim out so many different kinds of a liar that his story might not stick in spots.
“Well, boss,” continued my bureau of information, “dem niggers down on Decatur street, dey ain’t talking of nothing but Jim Conley. He’s de most talked about nigger anywhere, I guess. I hears him complimented on all sides!”
“In other words, Jim’s a sort of hero along Decatur street nowadays?” said I.
“Yassir, dat’s it—Jim’s a hero. Niggers all talking about him. He done got de best of de smartest of ‘um. Nobody can’t fool er nigger like Jim!”Continue Reading →