by Ken Sehested
In August 1913 the body of 14-year-old laborer Mary Phagan was found in the basement of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta. The company’s Jewish-American superintendent, Leo Frank, was eventually convicted of the crime and sentenced to death by hanging. Two years later a last-minute commutation of the sentence to life imprisonment sent Frank to a prison farm. On the night of 16 August 1915 a group of men from Marietta, Georgia (Phagan’s hometown) abducted Frank and drove him to Marietta for a public lynching. Though identities of the lynch mob were well-known—including a former governor, a mayor, and several current and former sheriffs—none were charged. Half of the state’s Jewish population fled following the lynching.
Three things endure.
First, the memory of this trauma has been long forgotten, except within the Jewish community. Read more ›