In Atlanta, Georgia, a 13-year-old girl named Mary Phagan is found sexually molested and murdered in the basement of a pencil factory. Superintendent Leo Frank is arrested for the crime, but only with the flimsiest of evidence.
His trial demonstrates that he is targeted because he represents for the people in Georgia Jewish, Yankee capitalism.
Leo Frank will be found guilty, but Governor John M. Slaton recognizes that the trial was a flawed and commutes the sentence to life imprisonment. This creates such outrage that prominent political and community leaders kidnap Frank from his prison and lynch him.