tv Trial and Murder of Leo Frank CSPAN October 3, 2015 2:00pm-3:49pm EDT
santa rosa throughout the day on 3, american history tv. on april 26, 1913, 13-year-old girl named mary fagan was murdered in marietta, georgia. soon after, a jewish faster -- factory owner was arrested and charged with the crime. talks aboutve oney this in his book, "and the dead shall rise: the murder of mary phagan and the lynching of leo frank." he explores the other suspects, the possibility that anti-semitism played a part in the conviction, and our that the case became sensationalized because of the new york times. the georgia historical society hosted this hour and 45 minute event. welcome, i am steve oney, author of "the dead shall rise."
that the georgia historical society invited me to have this senior historian is my cohost. there is really no place i would rather be on the summer night than in this lovely southern town. although i now live in california, grew up in georgia. it is wonderful being back. seeing old friends, many old --ends, making some new ones southerners are warm and embracing, and really the best word is dear. so dear. the south is a golden place. yet, as we all know, there is another darker side. behind locked doors in almost
every southern town. something unspeakable has been hidden. nowhere is that more true than marietta. tonight, a stone's throw from where we are gathered , the best men of marietta were putting the last touches on a bold and dimmable plots. damnable plot. they were motivated, they believed, by the desire for justice, but nothing about their actions would be just. it would lynch a man, most likely, an innocent one. they would terrify and traumatize a generation of american jews, particularly, atlanta jews. sow pain and misunderstanding across the country. these men came from marietta's finest families.
their names adorned street signs, public buildings, ,onuments -- not just in town but across georgia. their ghosts are here tonight. , if intensely aware of that you let yourselves, you will be too. and they are not alone. cobb county farmers and merchants carried out the horrific instructions of these bullies. if i close my eyes, i can see them barreling in open-air cars through the georgia countryside, towards the state prison. here is mary fagan, the 13-year-old child labor whose brutal murder marietta sought to revenge. here, too, is tom watson, the agrarian rebel who gave the
final, fatal orders. then, there's leo frank. the jewish industrialist convicted of murdering little mary. commuted frank's death sentence to life imprisonment, setting in motion the chain of events that would lead the party from marietta to abduct frank from the state georgia inve him up the dead of night, and lynch him at dawn on august 17, 1915. thisite was near where road intersects roswell street. today, it is paved over a interstate 75. marietta, not surprisingly, has relationshiplt with the legacy of leo frank. and can't county's official history, frankie gets but a single dismissive mention.
frank, nonresidents. but leo frank will forever be a resident of marietta. and his spirit is here. on the 100th anniversary of the leo frank lynching, we have some of these ghosts -- summoned these ghosts to the marietta square. when i thought about what i was going to say, it i realized it is they who have summoned us. a call is here to do a specific job -- to reckon with their deeds. world -- powerful powerful word, to reckon. it conjures old testament whohets like ezekiel and hurled thunderbolts to the israelites. broader andhas a
more generous definition to consider. and that is what i hope we will do tonight. consider the maria barrett -- the murder of mary fagan, and consider why a century later, it all happens. a couple of pre-luminaries. the past is as different from the present as a foreign land is from home. 1915 -- their lives, their attitudes -- so dissimilar from ours. particularly about the subjects of sex and race, and the frank case is all about sex and race. that said, the issues they faced were surprisingly similar to those we face, in that they fill the world was spinning out of control. they no longer knew what the future held. the agrarian age was turning into the industrial age, with us, the industrial age is transform into the informational age. themselves were
exactly like us. they loved and they longed, they felt pain and joy. tragedy, i into this would like us to keep an open mind about what georgia was like in 1915, and open hearts about the people who got caught up in this affair. the ghosts of leo frank were all once flesh and blood human beings. i hope you will treat them humanely. that doesn't mean we have to pull her punches, that doesn't mean we can't be fierce. i hope it will be respectful and fair. frank haveof leo summoned us here because they would like to be understood. but i think if we can understand them, we might find what it is that we seek, that is piece. on the summer night, in this lovely southern town, in this
year when the past is suddenly no longer history in the south, when history has become front-page news, whether it's about charleston or ongoing debates about confederate iconography, i think it would be a fine thing to have a little understanding and a little piece. sam: thank you, steve. on behalf of the georgia historical society, i welcome you all to tonight's program. thank you for coming. my name is standing, senior historian, and it's my pleasure to facilitate this discussion tonight. and to introduce our guest, steve oney. ,esides being a fellow graduate where he is a greedy fellow and a nieman fellow at harvard, steve is what i like to call the last living witness of the leo frank lynching. he is the author of the most devoted it of account we have of this case, book entitled "and the dead shall rise: the murder
of mary phagan and the lynching of leo frank." originally published by pam in books in 2003. in researching and writing this book over a number of years, steve did when none of us can do now -- he spoke to people who actually saw a leo frank's body hanging from a tree in 1915. he talked to people who knew mary fagan, leo frank, jim connolly, and tom watson. story behind the story is a remarkable one, and steve is going to share with us and i. steve, how did you get interested in the leo frank case? steve: in 1984 -- that's right, 1984. yikes. i flew to tennessee to interview a dying patient at the veterans of administration hospital in mountain view. this was an 85-year-old alonso mann. at age 14, he had been leo frank's office boy.
it was christmas time, i interviewed alonso in a common , a roomthe hospital filled with the dying. he told minister markable story about what he had seen at the national pencil company on the day mary fagan was murdered. , inirst told the story fairness, to the natural tennessean, they broke the news, that led to an application for positive pardon for leo frank here in georgia. i felt the story had never been written up in a narrative. so i pitched the idea to esquire, and esquire assigned me to do a piece. alonso, spent a lot of time looking back through trial records and newspaper accounts. i went back to los angeles and wrote my article. it was a lengthy article, a 10,000 word article which, even for esquire, is quite long. i turned it in, they like it, and they said we are going to hold it until fall, until the
issues are bigger. it is even for esquire, that is a lengthy story. i went on with my life, and it so happened i fell in love with a beautiful woman i asked her to marry me. , and aour wedding date week before the wedding, i got a call from esquire saying get ready, we are going. i sent them getting married in a week. and they said, get ready we are going. i got married, and went off on my honeymoon, and where most new husband would take poetry or i took the galley proofs of my article for esquire , a bundled loads, and a box of number two ticonderoga pencils. my wife has lasting memories in communicating back and forth to editors in new york. book, it takes me
17 agonizing years. thank you, that's fine. not having to make a living during this time, writing stories. i finish my book. and my wife posts the party when i turn in the last pages of the manuscript. we are standing on our back porch in los angeles and a group of people is surrounding us, and she begins to tell them the story that i just told you. she's a good rock, and i think where she going with this? honeymoon,out our and she said that's when i realized i had two husbands. i was the bride of leo frankenstein. [laughter] line, butwas a funny sobering way true, as it turned out. weird going -- stan: we're going to talk about the
--der of mary fagan in them and the trial of leo frank. let's talk about who was mary today, the murder of a 13-year-old girl would be tragic, there have been thousands of 13-year-old girls who had been murdered since 1913. we are still talking about this one. why? who was mary fagan and why are we talking about this case? steve: she was a 13-year-old child labor who did a repetitive task. she inserted rubber erasers into eraser tips at the national pencil company in downtown atlanta, day after day, hour after hour, she earned pennies an hour. she had no hope of going to high school, forget about college. thathe terrible thing was atlantic capitalists and industrialists thought this was good. they thought it was hygienic to
have children working in factories. the mothers and fathers of these children knew it was not good. they knew it was absolutely wrong and they were ashamed and upset that they were so impoverished they had to send their children off to earn pennies an hour in factories. off at agewas cut 13. we know very little about her. i was very proud of my book that i was able to quote from a postcard he wrote her cousin. that is the only time we hear her voice. as to why we remember this murder, i think even today, this murder would catch our attention. we live in an age in which atrocity after atrocity is just another piece of news. but her murder was particularly brutal. she was found in a pencil factory by nightwatchman making his rounds. she was so badly beat up that the watchmen couldn't determine the race, the pencil factory was
filled with pencil grind and coal dust and we -- and she had been dragged and battered and all that. it was a terribly horrific crime. and then there were these strange notes placed by the body. i'm just going to read one of them. budding linguist of students out there, i urge you to write a master's thesis. -- of the notes read man ma'am, that negro new hire did , a long, tall, slim negro. i writes well play with me. that is absolutely wild, and it was on the front page of the atlanta journal the next day. a child labor found dead in the basement of a child labor factory, that was an earthquake going on that set in motion religiousrlying
fault, because leo frank was jewish. it didn't help in atlanta was in the midst of a horrific newspaper war, there were three independent newspapers in atlanta at the time, the journal, the constitution, and the atlanta georgian, owned by william randolph hearst. we all think we are unique and living in an age in media bombardment, but if you lived in a big city in america in 1913, you would know what it was like. multiple extras every day, and the hearst paper just one wild with the story. i think we would notice it, if it happened today. host: who was leo frank? steve: leo frank was the exact opposite of mary phagan. he was a quiet him a well-educated mechanical engineer, graduated from cornell university. he went to germany to study pencil making it ever hurt , her, the -- everhart faber
was a scientist. he was interested in modern whenement techniques and the national capital -- pencil family was capitalized, they hired him to run the factory. it was a huge factory, turned out hundreds of thousands of pencils week. the company was later renamed he was a quiet, rational, chess playing strauss loving, cerebral introvert. and a stranger in the south. when he married into one of the best families -- one of the best jewish families in atlanta. to give you an idea of the sea seligs, one helped put together all the property in downtown atlanta. this is an advantageous marriage that leo frank made. becamenother person
centerpiece in this case. but that was jim connolly. who was jim connolly, and why did he become such a powerful figure? steve: jim connolly was the janitor at the national pencil company. he was often drunk, he was often arrested, and he passed himself off as illiterates and a fool, and a prankster. several weeks after the murder of mary phagan, as atlanta had wondered how this crime happened and read all these accounts in the newspaper, leo frank and been arrested. he was the last person to admit having seen leo fagan live. leo frank would be arrested even today. the early investigation focused on timetables and who arrived at the factory first, the result of mary phagan's autopsy, and what time did she die, and what time did the murder occur. it was like french warfare in world war i, neither side was really advancing.
jim connolly came along and through a circuitous number of events, the police determined that he wrote the murder notes that were found in the basement beside mary phagan's body. and the rub was, he told the police that leo frank dictated those notes to him, to pin the crime on yet another black man. that leo frank was in the habit of seducing young women at the pencil factory, and that connolly had served as leo frank's guard during his assignations. and that one of the assignations, along with mary phagan, got out of hand and leo frank was violent. and mary phagan ended up dead. that's who jim connolly was. host: i think jim connolly said he couldn't write. steve: he told the police he could not write, and the police
found a number of ious the jim conley had written for jewelry. teachers, both graduates of the atlanta university conflict, one of whom would go on to be the legendary librarian of the auburn avenue library through the 1930's and 1940's. explained books to some of atlanta's budding young readers. he was so ingenuous that everyone had to love him, he said i'm a liar. and i was fine. -- that was fine. host: what happened to making such a central figure? steve: connolly took the stand it about two weeks into the trial. the trial was a stalemate. the day he was going to take the stand, the trial was held in a temporary building at the corner of hunter and pryor street downtown across from where the current courthouses.
there was a line out the door for blocks to get in when conley testified. he got on the stand, and i'm going to read you a few sentences that he had to say. i want you to imagine the scene -- a black man in a packed courtroom with people surrounding the court building, all the eyes of atlanta upon him, a solitary black man in a sea of white faces, and the prosecutor asked him what happened to mary phagan? connolly said -- mr. frank with standard at the head of the stairs, shivering great he was rubbing his hands together and acting funny. he had a little cord in his hands, his eyes was large. they looked funny and wild. he asked me if i saw a little girl pass along their and i told him yes. he says she came up to my office a while ago when i wanted to know something about the work. i went back there to see the little girl had -- the work had
come in. i wanted to be with a little girl and she refused me. and i struck her, and i guess i struck her too hard, and she hit her head against something. know, i ain't built like other men. the reason he said that was i had seen him in a position i haven't seen any other man that's got children. i have seen him in the office two or three times before, and a lady was in his office or at and she was sitting down in a chair, and she had her clothes up to hear, and he was down on his knees. now, just imagine that. a black man saying that in a courtroom in 1913. it's astonishing. , subjectson, oral sex
that would never be talked about in polite company are suddenly introduced into the public conversation. -- his first reaction was to send all women from the courtroom. so the rest of the trial took place in front of an exclusively male audience. conley was on the stand three days. to defense submitted to him one of the most brutal cross examinations you can ever read about, and he withstood that cross examination largely intact. the atlanta georgian reporter wrote after conley stepped down from the stand that the story conley tells his ally, that it is the most amazingly sustained ally ever told in georgia. and then the atlanta georgian, -- of the headline writers this speaks the different time. the front page headline was the
ebony chevaliers of crime, dark town's own hero. that was jim conley. about --been made host: much has been made about prosecution, that they were anti-semitic. steve: the prosecution was anti-semitic, mildly. the solicitor general pointed out frank's wealth, but it wasn't overtly anti-semitic. the defense was racist. the defense hammered at jim conley. they said things about jim conley that you wouldn't ever repeat. i quote them in my book, but as a textbook case. and quite racist. ended, and the closing arguments, ruben arnold along with luther rosser was frank's counselor, he made in his closing argument the statement that the trial was
anti-semitic, and when it was over and frank was pronounced guilty, hugh dorsey was lifted, bodily, out of the courtroom and carried like a football hero out to a waiting car, his feet never touch the ground and people were standing in skies rivers all , wavinghe courthouse handkerchiefs and has eyeing -- for dorsey.heering there was a sense that the entire city of atlanta had turned against leo frank. was that overt anti-semitism? when the verdict was delivered, the prosecutor and the defense lawyers met with the judge. they agreed to the judge's suggestion that frank not be present in the courtroom when the verdict was returned because they felt it frank was acquitted , he would be lynched. so the atmosphere, let's just
say it was poisonous. host: the charges on was been made to the crowd outside the courtroom yelled hang the jew or something like that. did that actually happened? steve: that didn't happen. later he would be reported that the frank case would be a back-and-forth propaganda war. that line wouldn't emerge until a couple of years later on. which brings us to the second part of this, and that is of course, the case becoming far beyond georgia, becoming a national cause célèbre. how did that happened? -- host: how did that happen? steve: there were only two or three national news articles during the trial. but within a few days after frank conviction, david marks, the rabbi at the reform synagogue temple got on the train went to new york and sought out the leaders of america's jewish community. ofsought out the publisher
the new york times, he sought out lewis marshall, great constitutional lawyer who was known as an attorney of origin for the jewish people and nissan whortising executive invented modern advertising. these men were resistant to rabbi marx's plea that frank was a victim of anti-semitism. finally sold them that this was an anti-semitic case. they marshaled all the resources of modern media to exonerate leo frank. geniusd an advertising who represented lucky strike cigarettes. budweiser beer. it was really the new york times that made this case a national case. in december of 1914, right as the drumbeat is really beginning, one month, the new york times published 33 articles about the frank case, and five editorials. it was excessive.
to adolph ochs, he thought he understood what had happened here. he was born in the north, but he grew up in tennessee and got his start as a newspaperman in chattanooga. his family still owns the chattanooga times. ,hey were southern sympathizers this debate about the federal flag, or mother spent most of her girlhood between matches and nashville. when she died, she was buried with the confederate flag. he thought he understood the south. he thought if the south got the facts as he saw them about the leo frank case, leo frank would be exonerated. host: tom watson became a lightning rod of this case. he comes into the story now when this has become a national case. tell us about him and how he plays into the story. steve: tom watson is one of the most brilliant, frustrating, upsetting people in all of
southern history. i simultaneous lee -- simultaneously admire him and him terrified by him. he called himself the agrarian rubble. he also called himself the sage of mcduffie. and mcduffie county, if you know your 159 counties. he took it upon himself to rebut the new york times, week after week in the pages of the jeffersonian. tom watson was not someone you wanted as enemy. watson was a brilliant writer, a great trial lawyer, a student of napoleon. he identified with the common man. he believed that the forces of capital were going to grind down the memory of this poor working girl, mary phagan. they were going to use privilege and influence in the power of the jewish owned press to exonerate leo frank, to get him out.
when watson started his crusade, jeffersonian was a handsome newspaper, quite well produced. 25,000a circulation of when it started its crusade. washe end, the circulation 87,000. which may not sound like a lot, but that was a lot. almost all that was in georgia. the great pulitzer prize-winning historian in his biography of tom watson -- an absolutely fabulous book -- he says that when trains came into rural georgia county carrying copies jeffe jeff, stacks of the would melt like snowflakes before they even got to the newsstand. people would buy them hot off the train. host: you characterize them as anti-semitic? steve: i would say that tom watson used anti-semitic rhetoric, viciously, against leo frank.
but if tom watson was anti-semitic in his soul, i'm not so sure. unfair, he was deceitful, he was vengeful. brand in thet a bone anti-semite, as i understand anti-semitism. if the new york times and not taken up this cause and beat the drum so loudly that frank was innocent -- two ways ask this question. would he have died a peaceful death in prison? relay this at their doorstep? -- do we lay this at their doorstep? executed?e have been with the governor have taken up the cause without the new york times? what role did they play in his death? steve: i think of the new york times taking the case as a
radical form of chemotherapy. it will extend your life, but eventually it will kill you. the champion leo frank as case was going through appellate machinations on the way up to the supreme court. we live in a world of influence, it was a world of influence even then. for the new york times to be -- thating leo frank was a powerful thing. i think that extended frank's life. but he contributed to the backlash in georgia that ultimately curtailed frank's life. it's a double-edged sword. host: how did this case wind up on governor john slaton's desk? the united states and britain court turns down frank's less appeal in april 1915 in the case comes back to georgia, and first lands of the prison commission, which was a three-member body that function back in those days as a pardon
and parole board. and the prison commission decided that frank should die. so the case then came to governor slaton, and governor slaton as the outgoing governor didn't want this. he wanted no part of it. yet a conflict of interest, his law partner was luther author, frank's lead counsel. wasslaton, and what i think -- i mean -- decisions of conscience are not played out between white lines, we live in gray areas. slaton, and this gray area of conflict about his law partner on the one hand, and what he decided was the decision of conscience on the other, decided to take the case. he held hearings at the state capital. the hearings were not conducted
under the rule of law. people can talk about anything. the transcript of them are absolutely fascinating. i quote from the liberally in my book. as slaton was holding these hearings, out on the washington street steps of the capitol was finland john carson, the great hillbilly musician. conjure cu john carson was for today's audience. he was kind of like a precursor of hank williams. if he had had his brothers, he would've rather gone honky-tonk and, but he can also touch that mournful note in hillbilly music. anote best expressed by solitary fiddle. he stood on the steps and played his fiddle, and saying the ballot mary phagan, which is really an appellation chance. just imagine the state capital of downtown atlanta, this lonely fiddler standing there, a crowd around him, chanting -- little
mary phagan, she went to work one day, she went to the pencil factory to get her little pay. leo frankie met her with a brutally hard we know, he smiled and said little mary now you go home no more. , waslled the mary phagan on one holiday, and called for old jim conley to take her body away. the judge passed the sentence, you bet he passed it well, solicitors you and dorsey sent leo frank to -- he didn't say the last word. he just let it hang there. that was the voice of georgia. that was the voice of the common man in georgia, expressed in song. it was a powerful voice. carson, his grandson was a great athlete the university of georgia, john e carson.
all-americant ballplayer, maybe the only two-time all-american. i mentioned that because john carson and the carson family -- this was the heart of georgia speaking. host: so governor slaton commute the sentence from death to life in prison in the last days of his office. ensues, georgia reacts as you would expect. there is a wild protest set off, the governor has to declare martial law. how does tom watson react and what role does he play what happened next? steve: in the first post commutation issue of the jeffersonian, watson called for frank's lynching. and he did it in the most extraordinary rhetoric. when i say i am both amazed and appalled by tom watson, he began
by summoning the confederate war , andout of their graves urging men to honor the memory of the dead veterans. just so powerful and so raw. -- forget about confederate iconography. the veterans were still alive. in this test just such a strong note. and then tom watson was a lawyer. wasbecause luther rosser john slaton's law partner, watson argued, like a lawyer, and his first statement -- let me just read you these two lines. hereafter, let no man approached the south, let him remember the unendurable provocation, and let him say for the lynch law is not better than no law at all. but rosser and slaton have together done nullifies the
code, abolishes the courts, and plunges us into administrative anarchy. that's a legal statement. he is saying the lynching is legal. all bets are off. so the horsemen of the apocalypse got settled up. will, walk us through we see behind us, starting at the top left. sitting at the driver seat there in that car is a young man named herbert eugene clay, and he was the solicitor general of the old blue ridge circuit court, which ran from marietta up to the tennessee state line. those are some of the bells of marietta, those are two of his brothers on one running board, a man named deborah mcclatchy on the other running board. grin ofook at that wily
herbert clay, you recognize a young man to whom no one has ever said the word no. herbert's father was the united states senator, herbert's brother was the military governor of germany at the end of world war ii. and herbert clay was one of the planners of the leo frank lynching. the other picture is of the lynching, and it's a hideous image. it's fascinating to me because there is a waiflike young man standing just to the left of the tree, and that is nine-year-old norvell lassiter. i got to know norvell pretty well, and norvell have some very vivid memories of what he saw there. is the cause, and that is the effect. host: this is tuesday, august 17, leo frank is lynched. who did it? steve: the lynching worked on a number of levels.
there were five or six eminent men in marietta who planned it. one was herbert eugene clay. another was new in augustine's judge, the just retired of the circuit court. another one was john tucker dorsey, a lawyer from marietta and a representative in the state legislature. he was the chairman of the prison subcommittee of the georgia legislature. the chair manufacturing company from a prominent family, former governor joseph brown, and fred morris, lawyer and brave man, interesting man who had played football for the university of georgia. men set out to execute leo
frank. and they appointed several lieutenants to run the lynch party, and the chief lieutenants were the man in charge of the content he chain gang, and he was named so because he had a dark complexion. he was a pretty tough character. he carried a bullwhip coiled on his shoulder. someone who knew him told me he could get with them down on the chain gang and george danielle was the other leader, he had a jewelry store here on the square. they picked the 25 to 30 men who would serve as muscle. and then they ran the show once the lynch party left marietta to pick up leo frank. host: describe what happened on the car ride back. steve: they got in and out of the prison in an astonishingly short time.
this is a state prison with guard towers, well armed guard force. the lynch party walked right in, they took leo frank without firing a shot. the only hitch is they left one of the party members, and they had to double back and get him. and then they started driving. just imagine, seven cars in the dead of night in georgia in 1915. not only are there no waffle houses, they are just speeding through the night. they take a very circuitous route. there was an electrician who had gone down ahead of the party on his motorcycle and he cut all the telephone lines and drained the gas tanks or disconnected the distributor caps on the engines of the cars but the guards used at the prison. but he neglected to get one phone line. and so a party of lawman was out in atlanta, the lynch party
skirted far to the east. they came up across the little river near where the nuclear power plant is now. and then they came up through even 10 and on through social circle in winder. they may have gotten as far north as winder. and then they came south of the marietta. when they got to marietta, they were coming -- it would like they had been up in the north georgia mountains. they came down throughout loretto, and picked up a couple of the leaders of the party and came into lynch leo frank. host: thank you. your mic starts working when i do that. describe the scene that i see behind us that the lynching. what was it like? steve: it was horrible, it was hideous. initially, it was quiet.
is thought to be a because when it's effectively administered, the hanging victim dies immediately from a broken neck. the atlanta constitution had a line in its first day news story about the lynching that i can't get out of my mind. leo frank undoubtedly flayed the air. i can't something about that, even 12 years after writing this. so, for 20 or 30 minutes, it was quiet. and then a crowd started to build. and then, and enormous crowd started to build, and people were running and coming on bicycles and buy cars. and soon enough, there were between 3000 and 5000 people gathered around the street with leo frank's body hanging there. there was one fellow in particular in the crowd named robert e. lee howl. and robert e. lee howl was a
wild man, and robert e. lee howl wanted to burn a disc rate frank's body. one of the planners took it upon himself to rescue frank's body from the mob. ,o frank's body was cut down and was again, a hideous scene. robert e. lee howl somehow arrested frank's body away from the undertakers and stomped on frank's face with his boots. judge morris got the body back into a wicker basket, which were then commonplace for transporting the dead, and threw it in the back of the wagon with a couple of black hands and started of roswell street towards the federal cemetery. they got about halfway up roswell and a lawyer named john wood pulled up in his car and judge morris beckoned him over and they threw frank's body into the back of the car and they drove on down to the chattahoochee river, and across
the river into atlanta. history, there was an otherwise unheralded atlanta journal reporter named rogers said getho judge moore on with me, and winter hung on to the running board of his car as john wood drove into atlanta. he was stop and take notes, and he stumbled into the office of the atlanta journal, covered with dust, and sat down and wrote one of the greatest deadline accounts ever written by a newspaper reporter, is often anthologized in books of best newspaper writing. that's how frank's body got back to atlanta. they put him in a garage at the funeral home, a crowd of atlantans heard they were in the garage, they were going to break down the garage. the funeral home director moved frank's body in a cheap pine box into a temporary viewing area on a couple of sawhorses in the front of the funeral home. by beforepeople filed
the frank family could finally get frank's body onto a train that night and get it up to new york. all of this revealed in your book really for the first time, most of what we know about the lynching avenue discovered. how did you do it? i am painstaking and i'm stubborn. i just stuck with it. that's basically all. there is no magic. host: who is your best source? i very likely had bill kinney, the associate editor of the marietta journal take a liking to me. he's 91 years young, he's not quite feeling well enough to be here tonight. bill didn't ever tell me anything. here's what say, you want to ask people. here so you want to go see. why don't you go see so-and-so
and come back and tell me what they told you. he's than the often to see george morris early in my research. george morris was the oldest son of george morris, he had been a bank examiner in california and come back to marietta to retire. i had a long interview with george morris, i was very proud of myself because george morris had been at the scene of the lynching. he was 19 years old, he wrote his bicycle out there when frank's body was fresh on the tree. he told me everything he saw. it was incredibly vivid. as they say, was very proud of myself for getting the description. , went back to see bill kinney and patted myself on the back of selling in the story and he said you missed it. i said what do you mean, it's a great story? steve: he said why was george morris out there? he said because his dad told him to go out there. he said he still don't get it, his dad knew leo frank's body
was hanging out there before anybody else in marietta new. that tells you his dad's role in this. george morris just gave you a very important piece of information. at sign relation to build went. bill was very tolerant. you just let me keep coming back. he didn't take me out. other good sources. -- host: other good sources. steve: the hardest journalistic cold call i have ever made in my life was i flew down to sarasota, florida early in my research to meet with eugene herbert clay junior, the son of herbert clay at the wheel of the car. eugene clay was in his mid-70's, a practicing lawyer, a sweet man. and talented man. i walked into his old-fashioned law office in sarasota near banyan tree, a he knew i was coming, he let me in.
essentially i said to her father lynch leo frank? and he started crying. and so i'm standing there with a 75-year-old man, crying, it is my fault. that, and werough talked about it. his mom and dad had gotten divorced when he was five years old or six years old, he had gotten custody and raise him up north in rhode island. he didn't really know much about his dad. so our purpose had dovetailed. i wanted to find out about his dad's role in the lynching, he wanted to find out who his dad was. we corresponded frequently about this. and then one long weekend, we met in marietta and we went around talking to just about every person we could find 85 years old or older who knew his dad. day with a amazing bond salesman named >> jolly who herbert clay senior after the lynching when on to be president
of the georgia senate and >> was his page. ex herbert -- jolly. given a law partner in herbert senior's law firm. herbert eugene clay junior and i would sit to sing to these people tell us about herbert clay. i started to piece together the role. one of the little side note about the clays. one of the strangely effective things i did researching this was i read the society news of sensibly about marietta for two or three years before the lynching and two or three years after. all three atlanta papers ran a society and notes column in each sunday's paper filed by the local correspondents. they are absolutely fascinating documents. they would be full of recipes and party list, i was interested
because i'd started to see how the men who planned the lynching, how they related to each other and how they socialize with each other. one of these stories showed that on the weekend of the lynching, herbert clay's wife and young eugene herbert junior had gone with evelyn clay, herbert senior's sister on vacation to san augustine. junior thisbert yellowing clip, and he remembered going down there, at five years old or six years old and he said the week of the lynching of the day of the lynching of a1 vacation down in saint augustine. he said this means so much to me. my mother hated my aunt, i never knew very even as a little boy, it was wrong that we would all be on vacation together and san augustine. it was gathering threads, just trying to leave a garments out of these little bits and pieces that i was collecting. host: who gave you the names of
the people who went on the raiding party? steve: i had the great good fortune to make friends with a couple of aging women, dorothy golmer wilson.d their dad was in the party. dorothy went to secretarial school, and when she got out in the early 1950's, she said her dad down, and her dad gave her a list of everyone in the lynch party. and she and i went over that list again and again. she had an interesting take on this. she worked as a beautician for many years at different shops on an office where a marietta. and she worked in the era where the wives and daughters of a lot involvedople who were in the lynching. she gleaned facts about the stories you would share with me.
joyce felt that her dad, who was part of the muscle in the lynch party had been used. happy tos proud and try and get me that angle. golmer, who was six years old and some of the lynching, she was and is helpful on that end. but she had concrete memories of the day of the lynching. and to me, the most important one was that she was up at 7:30 or 8:00 that morning when her dad came in from having killed leo frank, and she was, as we all are at six years old or seven years old, impressionable and looked up to our fathers. he was standing in their house, sobbing. she said i had never seen my dad cry before. and that he walked off into a field behind the house and started pulling corn. i got so much from these two women, both of visceral
understanding of the emotional lives of the lynch party members, and the names themselves. host: what is the most astonishing thing about this lynching? to me, is a state-sponsored crime it. it was run through the georgia legislature. outbreak intyphus the summer of 1915, and an investigation was threatened. the legislatures sent a group down there am i chaired by john tucker dorsey, who was part of the lynch party brain trust to get to the bottom of the typhus outbreak. suddenly they have the warden and his team as we now say on tenterhooks. the warden and his group could stand aside and let the lynch party in, or they could face possible charges. they stood aside, and then within weeks of the lynching, the legislature appropriated $30,000 in funding for new
construction at the state prison. was that a quid pro quo? i make a strong case for it in my book. by now agree will ever know for sure. but to me, that's the most astonishing thing about it. this was a marietta conceived but state run events. host: [indiscernible] steve: the lynch party leaders ran the legal system. herbert clay was chairman of the grand jury that investigated the case. and they returned a no bill. they did not indict. one said they could find no in cobb county who had any responsibility. several of their witnesses were in fact in the lynch party. the corners inquest was equally bogus. the woody allen line, a mockery of a fraud of a sham. no civil rights statutes, there was no federal law, there was no mechanism for this to become a federal case.
there was barely even fbi. once an investigation cleared a local grand jury and local -- in 1915, it was over. the only attempt anyone made to get access legally was there was brief discussion of prosecuting tom watson for sending obscenity through the mail. watson got with most of the members of the georgia delegation, and that went away. there were few unsolved mysteries left in this case. host: what are some of them? what happened to the man that a lot of attention is focused on -- jim conley. steve: jim conley was convicted as an accessory after the fact. he served a year in a chain gang in fulton county. off on ajim conley set tear. he must've been arrested 10 period,n the three-year
mostly for crimes against women. one of them -- the newspaper used a phrase -- he was accused of bride beating. he would be given a misdemeanor, slap on the wrist. atlanta largely looked at this as proof of jim conley's ferocity. -- veracity. he was too drunk and into violet is sold to have imagined and presented a case against leo frank. jim, it was arrested for more serious crime -- armed robbery at a store itself and land. he served a number of years, he got out, was arrested again in for playing will was then called the bug, betting on number that would appear in the atlanta papers each day, and people will run around taking book on this in downtown atlanta.
and then he essentially disappeared. there is no death certificate for him. , he lived inve way vine city over the georgia dome is. there's very little of it left. both luckily and sadly old enough to remember vine city. many of the roads were unpaved, even when i was working on this. i walked up and down the streets trying to find people who knew jim conley. there was method in my madness. a let some of the brecht features -- black preachers do my work for me. i got together and fellowship halls and would meet and talk about jim conley. i kept striking out. he essentially just disappeared. i called off the dogs when someone told me that you want to start going to church graveyards to see if there was a private , you walk from one graveyard to another, you might find the stone, i didn't do
that. host: host: is there still information out there, do you think? steve: there is still information. the handcuffs on leo frank ''s body are said to be in marietta. the nightshirt. the haney sisters told me there dad gave them a narrative of the kidnapping and lynching of leo frank. he sat down and told them the story and they wrote it out. they had it and they gave it to another family and passed on to another family in alabama. i'm confident that narrative exists but i have not seen it. if any of you in the audience have it, give it to stand. he will know what to do with it. host: let's move on to the aftermath of his case.
talk to us about lucille frank, what happened to her, and the impact on the jewish community in this case. steve: the same day i went to florida to meet herbert eugene jr., i want to st. petersburg to meet alan marcus. alan marcus was lucille's nephew. we had lunch and he said, you know what happened to and lucille? i said no. -- he said, we buried here. i said, yes, people do. he says, no. we buried her. she died in 1958 and she wanted her body cremated. she wanted her ashes scattered in atlanta. there was a city ordinance preventing the distribution of
remains, so be ashes stayed in a years andve or six then the funeral home was doing inventory. they called alan marcus and said you have to get lucille frank's ashes. they got them and they put them in the trunk of alan corvair. both of his sons are here this evening, and they drove around thathes teenagers. that was to joke, driving miss lucille. [laughter] one morning in the mid-60's, allen and his brother got some gardening tools and before light , went down to the jewish section of open cemetery and very lucile -- buried lucille in anonymous plot between the
headstones of her parents. alan tells me this mind blowing, heart wrenching story over lunch. i am moved in immediately -- at that point, i knew i would finish the book. to me, that represents what happened to atlanta's jewish community because of legal french -- leo frank. it was a body blow to the psyche of atlanta jews. nearly 50 years later, the family of lucille frank was afraid to conduct the public funeral service for lucille. a couple of other things happen. a temple bombing happened. atlanta's jews were on pins and needles about that. a number of anti-semites out in the day that claimed that lucille frank was
buried in a one cemetery because she did not want to be buried next to her husband in new york because he knew he was guilty. that is a horrible and untrue say, but iting to shows how polarized the case is because there are a number of people that firmly believe that leo frank was championed by forces of capital delete jewish media that did not want to see a jewish defendant hay for the life of a gentile girl -- paid for the life of a gentile girl. host: how are people in marietta today supposed to feel about this, in europe edition -- in your oppression? byve: marietta's affected this exactly as atlanta's jewish community was affected. you may wonder, what does he mean? i got the note from one of the
judge's daughter, lucille morris, and we had a couple of great conversations. she was 16 or 17 the summer of the lynching. she would not that i now defunct -- she would shop at a now defunct women's clothing store. -- jpe work that jpl and alan, at the glove counter. lucille allen would wait on sugar. sugar told me that lucille allen was such a wonderful woman and it was so sad what happened to her husband. when i told her that, i realized sugar did not know what lucille's dad had done.
-- know what her dad had done. lucille did not know what sugar's dad had done. no one in atlanta wanted to talk about this. it was too close. people were tied together. another example of that. well, we will be bit at that. that is a good one. host: there were 22 lynchings of african-americans in georgia in 1915. why are we talking about this case? ofve: frank was ducted from state prison, not a county jail. two, it was a prima premeditation. most lynchings of blacks in georgia spontaneous outburst. can't draw an equivalency between a good lynching and a bad one. they were all bad. the magnitude of difficulty of the frank lynching, the
conclusion of the facts that i've come across, are off the charge. the lynching inspired the resurrection of the modern ku klux klan and gay purpose to be recently formed anti-defamation league erie -- and gave purpose to the recently-formed anti-defamation league. most contemporary writers believe that leo frank was innocent. host: is there a chance he was guilty? steve: there is. presented a good case against him. jim conley was a fabulous witness and there were days where i was convinced. a number of young women accused
leo frank of what today would be called sexual harassment. were they all lying? that does not mean that frank was a murderer, but was there a pattern in behavior in the pencil factory that would have led a young woman like mary phagan to be at peril? i am led to believe that conley did it, primarily because did a run oner these. conley had a penchant for using compound adjectives. long, tall, black, and everything he said. he said on the stand. i done it. that is the difference between ignorance and education. he did not know the word "did." jim conley wrote those notes.
frank did not have anything to do with the murder notes. to me, the authorship of the notes places the crime at jim conley's hands. two slidesibe the behind us. what are we looking at? steve: a photograph of mary phagan's grave in the city cemetery across the way. it is a fascinating photograph for a number of reasons. you see the face of the man has been blacked out. that is most likely one of the lynchers. maybe if someone recognizes the ears,le years, you may -- you may do some soul-searching. the picture he holds in his hands, that may be evidence of the lynching party. this picture was taken immediately after frank was
lynched. this was taken before the crowd was gathered. the limbs were taken from the tree were frank was hung from. this is vengeance. this is testimony to the successful vengeance that caught county sought -- cobb county sought. behind me is leo frank's grave in queens. ofrn is the married name frank plus sister. frank, itt stone of it always has been. it's a dark statement about anti-semitism. host: why are we having this
program? why are we doing this? why is it important for us, as a society, to revisit these painful parts of our collective past? what purpose does it serve? the georgia historical society is a public research institution and believe that when we study the past, we can learn much from our triumphs that we can celebrate, but we can learn equally from our tragedies. the nature of our humanity, we think, is never more revealed than in the moments of great personal or community crisis. hatred and brutality and violence are often mingled with passion and courage and character. it is at the heart of the american story, whether in marietta in 1915, walking up the steps of little rock high school in 1947, or a charleston church in 1913.
after 100 years, we did not come here to judge, but understand better the human condition. stand on anyim to higher moral ground in the historical actors of the story, because we are still the devil by the prejudice of improvidence that led to the murders of two people you see behind me. we are compelled to revisit their story and see if we can make sense of what happened to them, as it is still our story and we risk our own future if we don't return to walk over this grave. thank you all very much. [applause] steve: thank you. host: thank you all very much.
we have a microphone set up to our left and we welcome members of the audience to come up and ask questions. that's a long walk down to the microphone. [laughter] like the old billy graham crusades. [laughter] come on down. againstonley testifying , whether that have been legal at the time? host: yes. you could take evidence from black. -- black people. >> i thought that blacks could not testify against whites at the time. steve: before emancipation. but: it was before 1963, blacks could serve on juries at
the time. >> ok. i am mistaken. [laughter] steve: blacks could serve on juries at the time. steve: other questions? host: a quick web -- >> a quick question for you. nots startling that we have heard much from people participating in the lynching, that they never speak about it. it seems that most people involved in a conspiracy, it seems someone does speak. i wonder if this would be second and not thirdhand because he talks to people who knew them, relatives. it seems a lot was very closeted and we did not hear much. host: the question is, did anyone in the lunch party speak about it? steve: this is an unspeakable thing, as i said in my introduction. my friend, bill kinney, told me
that when he was a little boy, his mother admonished him never to ask about leo frank case. one of the men who was muscle on the party, a man named luther burton, he felt horrible about his role and late in his life he went to a judge in cobb county and he unburdened himself to judge manning. judge manning unburdened himself to bill kinney. bill kinney, whose uncle was in the lynch party, heard the truth of this from a winch party member. bill built -- kinney initially played his cards close to the vest, by the time the book was done he had told me everything the judge told him. >> would you please speak more about william smith, if you would? the note that he wrote that was
not there on his deathbed? steve: william smith is the unsung hero of the frank case. he represented jim conley very well. he was from augusta, wayne smith. he was an early advocate of equal rights for blacks, as much as anyone could be an advocate for that 100 years ago. he thought that frank's powerful lawyers were going to railroad comic. railroadm off -- conley. he got him off with a misdemeanor. he began to think conley might have done it. ofdid this exhaustive study jim conley's written and spoken utterances. he did it with his wife, a schoolteacher. by the time he was done, he
believed that leo frank was innocent and jim conley was the guilty party. story to the headlines. his legal practice was destroyed in atlanta. he washed up in new york a couple years later working as a security guard in brooklyn. it was world war i and there was a lot of fear of infiltration by german spies. not until five or six years later did he get his law practice back. in new york, he made a little money and bought some property and was going to start a school for poor kids. he did not live to see his dream. he died of lou gehrig's disease at crawford long hospital. lou gehrig's disease, if any of you have had a caress with it, it robs you of your vocal
powers. his kids took him to the hospital at crawford long and they put him in an oxygen tent and he wrote this series of notes to the kids. most of them were about insurance all of these -- insurance policies and unfinished business and stuff to do for mom. at the last, he gathered himself and you can see the note on the back of a prescription pad. he said, in the articles of in thei believe that character and innocence of leo frank. he dies shortly later. he is making a deathbed statement that he hopes someday will be heard in a larger court. he was jim conley's lawyer. part of the reason he destroyed his law practice is that other lawyers in atlanta thought that
he had betrayed client-lawyer confidentiality. his understanding of the law was hadn't, that his opinion was based on nothing jim conley ownsaid and on his research. he also thought that the double jeopardy law of georgia meant conley could never be tried for the murder of mary phagan. legal stuff. >> mary phagan's family was not affluent, as i understand it. i wonder who paid for that very elaborate marker at her grave site? host: the question is, who paid for the beautiful tombstone at mary phagan's gravesite? flat is a stone and a
stone that has a poem engraved about the tears of georgia. it was paid for by the united daughters of the confederacy were the confederate veterans of war. a fund was taken up. isthe tombstone, the credit even. udc ort if it was the actual veterans, but they paid for it. >> we are given two alternative extra nations about the case -- explanations about the case. some believe leo frank did it, believe jim conley did it. this array third -- is there a third option? the question is, is there a
third alternative? we look at the mary phagan murder. maybe there is an alternative action. maybe leo frank had an altercation with mary phagan. they got out of hand. jim conley came in to take care of it and she ended up that. -- ended up dead. they both had culpability. threewere two or other people floating through the factory on that other day and i bring the investigation to them in the early chapters of my book. if anyone has read the novel "bonfire of the vanities" by tom wolfe, it is a fabulous novel about stemming from a misunderstanding of a crime in new york city. the protagonist comes home from a party and a black guy has been
sideswiped by his fancy car and he said he did not have anything to do with it, and he didn't. his mistress was driving the car. he is taking the fall for her. who is to know about human behavior? i can't judge. we don't have the information. but it is a valid theory. yes. reading "then truth of the leo frank case." it was written a year and a half after the case happened. it talked about the fairness and unfairness of the trial. i would like to hear your opinion on that. disastere trial was a from a legal point of view. there was applause in the courtroom when the prosecution scored points. right there, you had a sense of the way the gallery was going.
across examination of jim conley during his testimony was horrible malfeasance, really, legal malfeasance by frank's lawyer. conley introduced a number of instances of leo frank wash supposed philandering in the factory. .he defense then cross examined they did not challenge it. it was irrelevant. frank was on trial for murder, not for his personal sexual behavior. the defense let it go because the defense arrogantly believed this blackknock down man the prosecution had propped up as their lead witness. hugh dorsey, he did introduce these statements about how much money frank had and he kept using the word capitalist.
frank's mother testified about their financial affairs and where they had their money out. dorsey would say, your husband doesn't work? no, he doesn't work. so he is a capitalist? no, yes money that he is investing. so he is a capitalist? as if that was a bad thing. jews,ank, like american -- it was as if leo frank, like american jews, was in investment, and not poor mary phagan. >> coming in on the testimony were alonzo mann gave his deposition, given that he was on the stand and those issues never to a and respect
posthumous party. later, he came forth any posthumous pardon application was put out. what merit did his story have? alonzo was a shy 14-year-old. the newspaper commented on what an unimpressive or nervous man he was. 75 years later he comes forth to say that on the day of mary phagan's murder, he worked to the office up until noon, helping leo frank. sogot out, got a block or realized hehe forgot something, burst back into the lobby, and saw jim
conley holding mary phagan's a-day. phagan'sy -- mary body. jim conley told him if he told anyone, he would kill him. he went home and told his parents. his parents urged him not to tell a bite. that part of the story bothers me. alonzo does not appear until the end. this is inside baseball. in the evidence of leo frank, a lot of it is used whether mary phagan was in the conleyr, or whether struck her in the lobby and dumped her body through a little hole in the edge of the lobby into the basement, where a ladder random. there was odiferous evidence.
there was feces deposited at the bottom of the elevator shaft, and it was fresh on the day that mary phagan's body was. defecated said he had in the elevator shaft. this evidence became known as the shit in the shaft. the reason this is interesting, and the reason i tell you in relation to alonso, is that the fresh when the body was found, the elevator was never used to cut the elevator -- never used because the elevator touched the bottom every time. jim conley's shows
that conley's tail was a fabrication. story did not cast any on the tail. new light on the tale. he just got us interested in a story we already knew. >> what about petition for his innocence? steve: i thought the board of erred, paroles had but by the time i was finished the the book, i thought board made the correct decision of saying we did not protect leo frank's constitutional right and we apologize.
i did not think there was sufficient evidence to give leo frank a blanket exoneration. if you start overturning convictions on the memories based on 85-year-old witnesses 70-something years after the fact, that would call verdicts and question -- verdicts into question. i leave it as a mystery. i state the case strongly in my book that leo frank was innocent , that i am ultimately not sure. by davidositive review gero. he won the pulitzer for his biography on martin luther king jr. he accused me of moral cowardice by not slamming the door on the case, and i replied by saying i am not omniscient. i don't know.
>> having been born and raised in the south, i have only heard the legend of leo frank in southern context. i was wondering, how does the rest of america see this case is part of the southern identity? steve: this was a huge national story. this was one of the three or four trials of the century along with the lindbergh baby, the same separate -- the sam shepard case, and probably oj. this touch deeper than any of those. this touched on the third rail of race and ethnicity and class. those will be live wires that are down there -- those are the live wires that are down there. when you tease those out, there will b sparks and people will get burned. when leo frank was lynch, the response from the national rest
was devastating. i think the "chicago tribune" the south is far from civilized. until fresh blood is introduced, they were main savages. were released, characterizing the south as beasts. this was a beastly thing. ans cemented the view of irrational, violence-prone people. it terrified american jews. america was supposed to be the great exception for the jewish people this is a land without religious budget is, a land of opportunity for all and the case gave a light to that. the lucky thing for the south is that leo frank was lynched. within about x months, the lusitania -- within about six
months, the lusitania had sank and we were in world war i and the world forgot. does that answer the question? it is a fantastic subject. you can at it through a lens of religion or gender. mary phagan was a victimized child labor. it is a very volatile case. host: you and i talked about this. come to termsto with confederate iconography and jim crow and lynching. this case occupies a special case in this somehow. steve: this case is just weird. this case touches a bunch of -- it goes against the grain on many levels. a white man convicted on a black man's testimony. to the victors went the spoils. tom watson was elected to the united states senate. beh dorsey was elected to
governor. it goes against the grain. governor,dorsey was he did an extensive study on lynching and tried to pass a law that would allow state police to respond in any hotspot where they thought a lynching might occur. powerfulnother very pro-black decision as a circuit herndon the alonzo case, a famous first amendment case in the 1930's. herndon was a black guy accused of distributing sedition literature and dorsey found in the case of herndon. this was not all black and white. >> thank you for your
presentation. steve: thank you. >> was there anything unique in marietta and the lynching party originating in marietta as opposed to originating in some other area, atlanta? steve: the question is what made marietta the unique source of the wench party? mary phagan, while born in alabama, grew up in marietta. home was her childhood in the section within sight of the lynching site. the first news of the lynching was a phone call the sheriff's office in marietta. ck, leo frankqui hanging, retribution. this is a local girl. the elders of this community -- you know, the lynching was a symbolic act. it was an act of terrorism and
usually aimed at blacks and the most primal invulnerable part of black men, or sexuality. here it left the track and went after a jewish victim essentially for the same reason. >> good evening, steve. steve: hey, mike. >> welcome home. what strikes me as remarkable is that frank was convicted by an all-male jury of white men. it was not a representative cross-section of the community, assuming there are plenty of women around. you have any feel for what the verdict might have been if women had been on the jury? steve: i don't know. women could not serve on a jury in 1913 as they could not vote. they were not on the jury list. question is germane.
there was an incredible woman in atlanta in the 1920's named jesse daniel ames. she is the subject of a great book called "revolt against chivalry." lynching was at protest act of chivalry, and not until women got the vote and not until women were able to say that we are capable of friendly for ourselves would lynching -- fending for ourselves would lynching end. this book got a lot of awards. argue, it might have gone differently. it's funny. blacks were on the jury list. to give you a sense of how frank's lawyers handle this, every black who got into the pool, frank's lawyers would use a strike on them. they did not want a black juror.
brief follow-up question. it was an absolutely daunting task that you undertook to write this book, steve: and it is awesome. steve:well, thank you. >> you had so much ground to cover, but i wonder if you had any opportunity to look into any background of the jurors and people that you talk to give you any hint that there had been improper conduct. steve: in the second part of the there is an extraordinary motion made for a new trial and much of that is based on investigation into juror conduct. makefound -- they tried to a case that three or the four jurors were anti-semitic, or if they were not they went on to the jury having expressed their belief in frank's guilt. part of not fly, it was
the appellate argument. >> i really don't have a question. i have a quick comment. on behalf of the family of lucille frank and leo frank, i want to thank you, steve, for all of the years that you spent putting these facts together where everyone can read and history can be presented. i would like to thank the georgia historical society and all of the others that have helped put together this fine program tonight for this event. [applause] steve: thank you. host: thank you. steve: thank you. >> i teach eighth-graders georgia history every year and i get to teach the whole leo frank story, included the elevator shaft, although i don't use her
colorful language. [laughter] they enjoy that. what is the biggest take away that you think an eighth-grade student can take away from this case? when my students from hall county get to go to atlanta, some of them from the first time, and they see the statue of tom watson outside the capital and they are saying, what is going on? why is he still there? we don't understand. what are some of the lessons do you think we can take away from this case that i can give to my students and kids? steve: i think most of you heard that, but she's in eighth grade teacher and she wants to know what lessons she can give to her students based on this awful tale. i think there are life lessons about being fair, being honest, not jumping to conclusions, being brave, being willing to stand up against a crowd. there are many areas of
citizenship, stories of citizenship, that come out of this. watson,he statue of tom i have a funny view of that. i am sorry they moved it. here is why. one of the great books about the civil rights movement is called "my soul is rested." it is a moral history of the civil rights movement. he went on to be the editor of the "new york times. he had an office at the state capital and looked out on a statue of tom watson. and heed at it every day kept asking himself, what happened? what happened to this guy? tom watson started out as a liberal. tom watson would have black preachers on the stump with him when he was campaign in the 1890's and he had this incredible line he would use and why he terrified elites in
atlanta. he would tell racially mixed audiences that you are kept bert so you may separately fleeced. that terrified atlanta's elite. something turned in tom watson and it all went wrong. hal wrote about the civil rights movement in this book, and he talks about seeing the statue of tom watson out of his office. he looks at it every day as he puzzled over, what does this mean? when we have aan black homecoming queen at the university of alabama, which was news when he was writing it? history should not be defaced or erased.
there are many difficult parts of history, and our job is not to impose our views on it. our job is to learn to what it tells us. we are here to be receptive listeners and try not to repeat the mistakes they made. if they erase all the evidence, where does the discussion start? that is a difficult point to make. i am not a purist about it. when i was at the university of georgia, the great band director of the red coat marching band, he had stopped playing dixie at homecoming games and i was grateful for that. i thought it was a great decision. it is a beautiful song that is mostly used to get people who did not care about the game to get people worked up about stuff that had nothing to do with football. i don't believe in waving the confederate flag, but i do believe that some of these monuments are starting points
for honest conversations, and if we take them all down, what are we going to talk about? host: you can also ask them if they know about tom watson's involvement in that case, look at the monument and identify anything about the involvement? about historic revisionism. a textbookson is case of historical revisionism. steve: a book can be read by a fairly young person. it is a beautifully written book and it starts off one tom watson was a little boy. he is going to augustine to see the trains bring back dead and wounded confederate soldiers in the late part of the war. he lived in a different world. wasas shaped by things that
hard for us to comprehend. host: we have time for two more questions. >> you spoke earlier about people helping you on your investigation and everything else. did you come across anybody that stonewalled you of course -- or coerced you to go to a different route? steve: the question is, who stonewalled me? well -- the children of some of the lynch party stonewalled me. this fellow, george morris, knew exactly what happened and he shoved my inquiries aside. funny thing. people in marietta were much more open about this as a rule than mary's of atlanta's jewish
community that lived through it. maybe it is not so funny. this was a psychic and political and horrific blow to the communal psyche of atlanta's jews. they dealt with it right repressing it. if you believe in freudian analysis, this was an instance of mass repression. they could not talk about the frank lynching. marietta did not have so much to lose. they had something that they would increasingly grow ashamed about, that they did not want to speak about it. this line is in my book. dorothy haney-smith, this line sums up how marietta felt about it then. dorothy said, daddy was not proud, but he was not ashamed. i thought that was the voice of the lynch party. yes, sir?
>> i was fascinated by your stories from your interviews. we have all witnessed many injustices or wrongdoings in our own lives, and too often people don't do anything about them. when i heard the comment earlier about messages for the children, one for us older folks might be words we never want to hear -- granddad, why didn't you? steve: yeah. olderestion is, as we get and we learn about people who went along and when we ask ourselves, when did we go along when we should have stood up, what is it going to be like when our grandchildren or young people say, well, why didn't you stand up? there are all sorts of maxims about how you lead your life, what you will be sorry about is
not what you did, but what you didn't do, and i think there is some truth to that. i think you will be sorry if you did not stand up. there are little ways that each of us every day does not stand up were all failed. -- or all failed. this is a nice way to end this. it is getting up again when you need to stand up and stand up next time. that is a good thing to do. thank you all. host: thank you, steve. steve: thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪
>> with her experience hurried to a five-star general, first lady mimi eisenhower knew how to manage a large staff and demanded nothing short of excellence in the white house. her favorite color of ink was reflected -- pink was reflected in her wardrobe. mimi eisenhower -- mainly eisenhower,- mamie this wednesday at 8:00 p.m. on "first