Post-Parade – The Major Figures
By Sally Ollove, Literary Manager
Though the events of Parade conclude shortly after Leo’s death, many of the lives of the characters depicted continued to feel the reverberations of the event for years to come.
Only 27 at the time of the lynching, Lucille Frank never remarried. Until her death in 1957, signed her name: Mrs. Leo Frank. She rarely spoke about the case, and wrote just once of the men who killed her husband: “I only pray that those who destroyed Leo’s life will realize the truth before they meet their God—they are not perhaps entirely to blame, fed as they were on lies unspeakable, their passions aroused by designing persons. Some of them, I am sure, did not realize the horror of their act. But those who inspired these men to this awful act, what of them? Will not their consciences make for them a hell on earth, and will not their associates, in their hearts, despise them?”
As he predicted, Governor Slaton’s decision to commute the sentence of Leo Frank ended his political career. After his actions became public, an angry mob marched on his residence and Slaton fled the state. He never held public office again, though he served as president of the Georgia Bar Association, and chaired the Board of Law Examiners. Slaton died in 1955.
Hugh Dorsey was elected governor ofGeorgia in 1916, riding on his popularity from the Frank case. He was openly supported by Thomas Watson, whose anti-Semitic rhetoric had whipped up public opinion. Dorsey proved surprisingly progressive as a politician: taking a particular interest in eradicating unjust violence towards the African-American population in his state and taking a hard line on lynchings and mob violence. Dorsey remained in office as governor until 1921, and ended his career as a county judge.
Jim Conley is considered by many to be the real murderer of Mary Phagan, due to irregularities in his testimony and revelations from witnesses much later in the 20th century. Following his release from a 20 year sentence for armed robbery, Conley more or less vanishes from the record—though sightings were reported through the 1930s. The last recorded sighting occurred in 1941 when he was arraigned on charges of public drunkenness and gambling. During the questioning, Conley claimed that he’d been living “a quiet life.” An acquaintance in 1971 mentioned that Conley “had passed” with no indication when in the last 30 years that event occurred.
Britt Craig only lived a few more years. He died from pneumonia shortly after taking a job with The New York Sun.