Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
August 19th, 1913


Discussing Much-Fought-Over Point of His Alleged Nervousness on the Morning of the Murder, Superintendent Admits It Freely. Declaring That Any Man in His Place Would Have Been Similarly Affected—Speaks Bitterly of His Treatment by Members of Detective Force, and Says That One Reason Why He Would Not Consent to Meet Conley Was That the Officers Would Have Distorted His Words.


Declares Story of Conley Was a Lie From Beginning to End, and Denies Charge of Miss Jackson That He Ever Locked Into Dressing Room of Girl Employees—-He Tells of Mary Phagan Coming to Office to Get Her Pay Envelope Shortly After Noon on April 26. Says That He Gave Detectives Clue That Conley Could Write, Which Led to Arrest of Negro Sweeper—No Fund Raised for His Defense, He Asserts.

“Some newspaper man has called me “The Silent Man in the Tower.’ Gentlemen, this is the time and here is the place! I have told you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!”

Thus did Leo M. Frank dramatically conclude his remarkable statement of nearly four hours, during which then he was in turn explicit as to detail of his doings on the day of the murder, argumentative when explaining some point which had looked dark for him, tender when referring to his wife and his home life, bitter when he told of the treatment he had received at the hands of the detective department.

It was in all essentials the most remarkable statement which has ever been delivered in a courtroom in the south, “Through the four hours that he was talking there was not the slightest trace of nervousness, not a tremor of the hands, even when conveying a glass of water to his lips. He was perfectly poised, convincingly clear in his statements, the man unafraid.

When he concluded a hush fell over the courtroom. His wife and mother, who had been hanging on his every word, fell forward on his neck and the pent-up tears flowed freely.

The statement carried the ring of truth in every sentence, and scores in the room whose minds had not been made up left the room convinced of the man’s innocence.


Shortly before court convened for the afternoon session Frank was chatting with his wife and some friends in the anterroom. He had just had his throat treated for an extremely bad cold which he contracted some days ago. With this exception he stated to newspaper men that he was feeling fine—that he felt no nervousness, and that he expected to be on the stand fully three hours.

Shortly after 2 o’clock Frank took the stand. The courtroom was packed. Scores of friends who have stood by him in his dark days of confinement clustered near. His devoted mother and his faithful wife, her sisters and cousins, sat where they could see him clearly.

He began his statement with a swift account of his life and then hurried forward to the events of the fatal day when Mary Phagan entered the office of the National Pencil company for the Iast time.

He told in detail of his movements and activities that day. From time to time he referred to the financial statement and to various papers on which he says he worked that day. These papers he went over carefully, item by item, figure by figure. He stood facing the jury and talked to them very much as if he were addressing a board of directors before whom he was presenting some proposition demanding explanation.

For some two hours he dwelt on the technical details of the factory to show just how much time it would have taken him to make up the financial statement, and he explained in minute fashion the source from which each item was derived.


He told of little Mary Phagan entering his office to receive her pay, of her going out and then returning to inquire if the metal had come. As she left for the last time he spoke of having heard what he thought was a woman’s voice, hut of this he said he could not be positive.

He visualized for the jury his work of that afternoon and of his trip to and from home; of how he spent Saturday evening.

Of the early morning ride to the undertaking establishment and of his alleged nervousness, he said:

“A good deal has been said of my nervousness that morning. I admit it. I was nervous. Think of it, gentlemen. I was awakened at an early hour, rushed downtown in an automobile going at top speed. I had had no breakfast. I witnessed this poor child–this young girl in the first flush of womanhood—dead and mutilated. Gentlemen, the sight was enough to make any man nervous. It would have touched any man not made of stone.”

Frank then told of his visit to the detective department and of his second visit to the undertaking establishment that afternoon.

Of his experience with the Atlanta detective department he spoke with a trace of bitterness.

He described the manner in which he says John Black administered the third degree to Newt lee. He said the manner in which he shrieked at and cursed the negro was something awful.

Of the criticism that he would not talk to detectives or to Conley, he said:

“My experience with them showed me that they would put words in my mouth and distort what I really said until it became unrecognizable. At first I answered all questions gladly, but finally I decided to wash my hands of them.”

He told of a visit John Black and Harry Scott had paid him.

“’The Pinkertons are suspicious of that man Darley,’ Black said. ‘Now, open up—tell us what you know,” Frank said.

“I told them that Darley was the soul of honor, and thereupon they left in disgust.” Frank branded as a lie the statement that women had ever visited him. He denied that he had seen Conley on the day of the murder. He told of how he was the first man to prove that Conley could write. He denied all knowledge of Dalton of ever having seen him. He said he had no rich relatives In Brooklyn, and denied there was any fund raised for his defense. The money for this purpose, he said, was ‘secured by mortgaging his parents property’.

He wound up with the dramatic statement quoted at the beginning of this article, and immediately was on his way back to the Tower.


Many character witnesses were called at the morning session, all of whom testified to Frank’s good character. A large part of the forenoon was taken up in enumerating the various exhibits which the defense wanted to introduce.

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Atlanta Constitution, August 19th 1913, “Frank Ends Statement After Testifying Four Hours,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)