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Trials of the Long Twentieth Century - Essay Example

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The Leo Frank Trial (1913) The Leo Frank trial of 1913 served to underline the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the United States in the early twentieth century. Leo Max Frank was a Jewish American engineer who worked as the superintendant of the National Pencil Factory, Atlanta…
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Trials of the Long Twentieth Century
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"Trials of the Long Twentieth Century"

Download file to see previous pages More evidence emerged that significantly incriminated Leo Frank in the murder, convincing Hugh Dorsey, the solicitor, to seek a murder indictment against Leo Frank (Brundage, 36). The trial began, with the prosecution building its case on evidence yielded by very shoddy investigations carried out by the police. Leo Frank was eventually convicted of murder and sentenced to death despite overwhelming evidence indicating that Jim Conley, a black sweeper at the factory, was the more likely murderer (Arnold, 21). The death sentence was eventually commuted to life sentence by the outgoing governor of Georgia, John Slaton. However, he was kidnapped from prison on August 16 by a lynch mob led by prominent individuals of Marietta, who hanged him on an oak tree at a site near Marietta. Leo Frank’s case attracted national attention because of an overwhelming call by the public, especially Southerners, for his execution. It emerged at a time when anti-Semitism was rampant in the Southern States, whose citizens viewed Jews as affluent Northern capitalists out to take advantage of the poor and women of the South. Public outrage following the murder of Mary Phagan was intense, and when police investigations brought in Leo Frank as a suspect, the locals were enraged and immediately started to call for his execution even before he had been proved guilty in a court of law. It is apparent that public clamor tremendously influenced the verdict of the jury and contributed to his sentencing. Despite having a strong defense, Leo Frank had no chance of a fair trial because most individuals involved in the justice process that ensued had anti-Semitic views. The society of Georgia was strongly anti-Semitic because a lot of industry and capital flow in the South was controlled by Jews. Therefore, citizens of Georgia and other southern states viewed Jews as selfish and controlling individuals who aggressively kept much of the area’s economic opportunity to themselves at the expense of the locals (Brundage, 41). In the last half a century, a number of stereotypes had extensively circulated in American society concerning Jews. They include the belief that all Jews are financially well off, all Jews are greedy and stingy, Jews are powerful and control the world of business, Judaism strongly emphasizes materialism, Jews think it is okay to cheat non-Jews, Jews use their wealth and power to benefit only members of their community. As a result, many Americans, especially Southerners, viewed Jews as a hindrance to the American culture of free enterprise and opposed to the progress of non-Jews. Therefore, by the early twentieth century when Leo Frank was accused of the murder of Mary Phagan, anti-Semitism was deeply ingrained in American society (Blakeslee, 45). The Atlanta police who carried out the investigation demonstrated considerable bias against the suspect, Leo Frank, since they were quick to take into account any evidence that incriminated him and readily ignored any evidence that disproved him as the murderer. This is demonstrated by their failure to conduct tests on a bloodstained shirt belonging to Jim Conley, the other suspect. They ignored this piece of evidence instead of following up on it to determine whether the blood belonged to Mary Phagan. Furthermore, the police concentrated ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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