The Impact of the Leo Frank Case
The case of Leo Frank was one that had a huge impact on American society, and has lead to many changes in the United States legal system. The rape and murder of Mary Phagan, a thirteen-year-old girl who worked in the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta, Georgia, was an event that terrified and enraged the citizens of the state. Leo Frank, superintendent of the pencil factory, was the man who was convicted of the heinous crime. Many factors led to the conviction, and later, the death of Frank. He was a Jewish man from New York, in a position of power; something that Georgians did not agree with. Furthermore, the South had strong moral values dealing with the respect and well being of women. To see this violated hurt and upset the residents deeply. Hence, the perpetrator had to be brought to justice. Representing “urbanization, industrialization, and foreigners”, all of the things that the residents of Georgia had come to despise, Frank was the perfect target. (Dinnerstein 150)
The trial of Frank was obviously unjust. Constantly, evidence showing doubt as to whether or not Frank was truly the murderer was overlooked. Jim Conley, the black janitor who worked in the pencil factory, seemed to be a more likely candidate. However, the residents of Georgia continued to point to Frank as the person responsible for the crime, therefore influencing the judges and jury of the case to do the same.
Frank, born in Texas and raised in New York, was viewed as an outsider by the populace of Georgia. Furthermore, he was Jewish, amidst many white Protestants. He was the superintendent of the National Pencil Factory, an urbanized industry within an agricultural state. His religion, power and type of work all aided in his unpopularity with the Georgian masses. Though much of the evidence in the case pointed to Conely, this was Georgia’s chance to finally get back at those whom they felt were destroying, or...