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Racism, Anti Semitism, And The Southern Courts

2272 words - 10 pages

Section A:
This investigation is centered on the question “To what extent did racism and anti-Semitism affect the court case of The People V Leo Frank?” The essay focuses on the effect of racism and anti-Semitism against Leo Frank, a Jew from Brooklyn, during and after the trial where he was found guilty. It discusses these forms of racism and anti-Semitism in context of the time period of the court case, from 1913 to 1915. The paper discusses the portrayal of the court case in the papers as well as the public view and their actions, such as the lynching of Leo Frank without any repercussions or charges. The sources used in this investigation were newspapers from this time, court records, as well as other information found in the 1913 Leo Frank Case and Trial Research library as well as in academic Journals. The investigation also references An Unspeakable Crime by Elaine Marie Alphin.

Section B:

Leo Frank was a Jewish man who had grown up in Brooklyn, New York, where he moved within a few months of his birth. In 1908 Leo Frank moved to Atlanta, Georgia to become the supervisory of the National Pencil Factory. He married his wife Lucille two years later.
On Confederate Memorial Day, April 26th, 1913, Mary Phagan planned to meet her friends to watch the Memorial Day parade. Before she went to the parade, Mary Phagan went to the Atlanta National Pencil Factory to pick up her pay check of $1.20 (Alphin 8). Newt Lee, the night watchman at the factory, discovered the body of Mary Phagan in the basement of the factory around 3 in the morning the next day. (The People v. Leo Frank) According to Newt Lee, Leo Frank, the Jewish factory owner from Brooklyn, was called many times upon the discovery of the body but never answered. Jim Conley, a man who worked in the factory, originally was arrested for the murder of Mary Phagan, but he became the key witness in the trial after confessing to helping Frank put the body in the basement (Kerl). Leo Frank was accused of raping and murdering Mary Phagan.

During the trial, much of the evidence and testimonies were interpreted in unusual ways. There were two notes, with clear spelling and grammar errors, left near Mary’s body that said “he said he wood love me land down lay like the night witch did it but that long tall black negro did boy his slef” and “mam that negro hire down here did this I went to make water and he push me down that hole a long tall negro black that hoo it wase long sleam tall negro I wright while play with me.” (Alphin 12). These notes were questionable about their origin, so they were ignored despite any possible importance they may have held in the trial. Another piece of discarded evidence was the testimony of Dr. Hurt- the County Physician, contradicting that of Dr. Harris- a practicing physician, stated that blood found on the said that the blood found on Mary’s thighs were probably just from her menstrual period. Dr. Hurt state that Mary Phagan’s hymen was not intact but she did...

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