After Reconstruction ended in Georgia, reports of violence became widespread throughout the state. Georgia ranked second to Mississippi with 458 lynch victims between the end of Reconstruction and the early twentieth century. The number of lynch victims peaked in 1899 when 27 Georgians were killed. Among the more high-profile lynch victims of Georgia was Leo Frank (August 17, 1915), a Jewish man of Atlanta who was convicted of murdering his 15-year-old employee (Mary Phagan). Leo Frank was raised in New York and came to Georgia in the early twentieth century to manage the National Pencil Company. Frank was convicted largely on the testimony of Jim Conley, an African-American janitor working at the factory. After a series of failed appeals, including one to the U.S. Supreme Court, Frank’s lawyers appealed to Governor John. M. Slaton. After reviewing the case, Slaton commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison. Feelings of outrage and anger, likely flared by populist newspaper editor Tom Watson’s writings, came to a head on August 17, 1915, when Leo Frank was hanged by a mob in Marietta, Georgia. For more information go to the New Georgia Encyclopedia page on Leo Frank and his case.
A collection of newspapers articles on the Leo Frank Case. From the Georgia Historical Society.