Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Today -100: August 18, 1915: An act of law-abiding citizens

Lynching of the Day -100: Leo Frank (1884-1915), kidnapped from prison, is driven 175 miles to Mary Phagan’s birthplace in Marietta, Georgia, and hanged.

Gov. Nathaniel Harris, who was attending a reunion of Confederate veterans, says he’ll make sure the lynchers are brought to justice. He says “I do not believe that the people of Georgia will at all approve of this action.”

There were postcards made of the lynching. You can Google them. Frank is hanging from a tree, barefoot, in a nightrobe. Some of the mob are easily identifiable and none are wearing masks, nor were they when they invaded the prison farm. None, of course, were ever arrested.

This defunct site lists 26 of the probable members and planners of the lynching party, including former Georgia Gov. Joseph Mackey Brown, who last December wrote an op-ed asking “Are we to understand that anybody except a Jew can be punished for a crime?” and last week wrote another one saying the time had come for “the people to form mobs”; E.P. Dobbs, mayor of Marietta; Eugene Herbert Clay, former mayor of Marietta and future president of the Georgia Senate; Newton Augustus Morris, former Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, past and future superior court judge and occasional cattle rustler.

By the way, Marietta’s mayor is named Dobbs and its police chief is named H.H. Looney. This is like a Preston Sturges movie gone horribly wrong.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Atlanta Constitution says the mob has “assaulted, desecrated, raped” the sovereignty of Georgia and “lynched, not Leo Frank, who is only a detail in the awful story, but the State itself.” (Those Southerners sure did see everything in terms of rape, don’t they? The Macon Daily Telegraph says the mob “raped the State penitentiary”.

The Marietta Journal, on the other hand, says “We regard the hanging of Leo M. Frank in Cobb County as an act of law-abiding citizens” merely carrying out the death sentence that Gov. Slaton shouldn’t, in their opinion, have commuted.

The Jeffersonian (edited by former Congresscritter Tom Watson, who was one of William Jennings Bryan’s two running mates in 1896 and will be a US senator) proclaims, “Let Jew libertines take notice.”

Atlanta Mayor James G. Woodward defends the lynching, saying “when it comes to woman’s honor there is no limit to which we will not go to avenge and protect it.” He says 75% of Georgians believe Frank was guilty and they ought to know (how?). He suggests that former Gov. John Slaton, who commuted Frank’s sentence, should stay out of the state for at least another year and maybe forever.

Slaton, in San Francisco, says better a lynching than a hanging by judicial mistake. He says every member of the lynch mob should be hanged.

Elsewhere in Georgia, a 68-year-old negro man, John Riggins, is also lynched.

Headline of the Day -100:

Villages are being depopulated, with Armenians ordered to take a hundreds-mile-long march through the desert, during which most will die.

King Ferdinand of Bulgaria fires his German medical adviser after discovering that he’s a spy.


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