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Leo Frank’s; 1915 lynching photo went on auction block in U.S.


A photograph of the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish pencil factory superintendent, in Marietta, Georgia, was sold for $3,125 at an auction.
The warm-toned photograph on postcard stock includes a pencilled caption on the back by an unidentified hand with the words: “Hanging of Leo Frank.” It sold at Sotheby’s on October 3.
The seller of the postcard, a private New York collector, said he bought the postcard years ago. After realizing that he was never going to display the photo in his house (“too gruesome,” he said) and that there probably wasn’t much of a venue for showcasing it, he decided to put it on the block.
Frank, who was convicted in August 1913 for strangling his young employee, 13-year old Mary Phagan, is believed to be the only Jew ever lynched in the United States. Phagan was found strangled in the factory cellar. From the beginning, many people believed Frank to be innocent, and that it was, in fact, factory janitor Jim Conley, a black petty criminal, who murdered Phagan. The all-white jury accepted Conley’s testimony over Frank’s, however, and after merely one month, Frank was pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.
Most Georgians celebrated the verdict, but observers around the country were outraged.
LEO FRANK: THE TRIAL OF LEO FRANK IN 1913 WAS MOTIVATED BY THE RAMPANT ANTI-SEMITISM OF THE TIME. THE FOUNDING OF THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE THAT SAME YEAR WAS MOTIVATED BY A PASSION TO ERADICATE SUCH INJUSTICE AND BIGOTRY. DESPITE HIS INNOCENCE, FRANK WAS ABDUCTED FROM JAIL IN 1915 AND LYNCHED. ADL REMEMBERS THE VICTIM LEO FRANK AND REDEDICATES ITSELF TO ENSURING THERE WILL BE NO MORE VICTIMS OF INJUSTICE AND INTOLERANCE.
The people seen standing around the corpse in the photo were not the lynch party members, Oney explained, but some of the thousands of onlookers who arrived at the scene after word got out. Frank was hanged at 7 am and the body was taken down three hours later.
The lower part of Frank’s body is wrapped in burlap in order to hide his naked body, since he had been wearing only a nightshirt when he was kidnapped. The reason he was wearing a nightshirt rather than a prison uniform, Oney explained, is because weeks earlier, a fellow inmate had attempted to kill Frank, so in order to protect him, he had been transferred to the hospital unit of the penitentiary, where patients wore nightshirts.
In 1986 the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles admitted culpability in failing to protect Frank or prosecute his killers, although they did not exonerate him. Today, a number of Marietta’s street signs still carry the names of the lynch party members.
Oney doesn’t believe that the street names should be changed, however. “We can’t go around re-writing history; that would be Stalinesque,” he remarked. “We’re not here to impose our version; just to tell the story.” Such a move would be controversial for another reason, too. Many of the families of the lynchers continue to be prominent members of the community, and in some cases, highly regarded figures, such as the brother of lynch planner Herbert Clay, General Lucius Clay, who was a World War II hero. MORE

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Comments

lady di said…
interesting post from which I have these observations;
our country is still against the businessman, is good at erasing certain history, and today those sentenced to die live for 10 to 20 years in prison.

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