Atlanta, Ga., June 11, 2015 – The Georgia Historical Society will dedicate a new historical marker recognizing Governor John Marshall Slaton, Wednesday, June 17, on the grounds of the Atlanta History Center near the former Governor’s residence.
Born in Meriwether County and educated at the University of Georgia, Slaton was the sixtieth Governor of Georgia serving two terms (1911-12 and 1913-15). Prior to his service as Governor, Slaton served in the Georgia House and was Speaker of the House for four years before being elected to the Georgia State Senate. He ascended to the Governor’s office following the election of Governor Hoke Smith to the United States Senate. Slaton is best remembered for commuting the sentence of Leo Frank from death to life in prison.
“With the dedication of this marker, we commemorate the life and legacy of Governor John Slaton,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “Governor Slaton was a public servant who, in his own words ‘could endure misconstruction, abuse and condemnation’ but could not stand ‘the constant companionship of an accusing conscience.’”
The dedication will take place at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday June 17th at the Atlanta History Center, 130 West Paces Ferry Road in Atlanta. The marker is erected by the Georgia Historical Society, Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, and the Atlanta History Center.
Speakers for the event include Dr. W. Todd Groce; Assistant Attorney General Van Pearlstein; Supreme Court Justice David E. Nahmias; Sheffield Hale, President and CEO of the Atlanta History Center; Shelley Rose, Senior Associate Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League; Rabbi Steven Lebow, Temple Kol Emeth; and Jerry Klinger, President of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.
The marker reads:
John Marshall Slaton was born in Meriwether County and graduated from the University of Georgia before practicing law in Atlanta. Slaton served in both houses of the Georgia legislature and two terms as governor (1911-12 and 1913-15). While in office, he modernized Georgia’s tax system and roads. Concerned by the sensationalized atmosphere and circumstantial evidence that led to the notorious 1913 conviction of Jewish businessman Leo Frank in the murder of teenager Mary Phagan, Slaton granted Frank clemency in June 1915. Slaton’s commutation of Frank’s death sentence drew national attention but hostile local backlash resulted in Frank’s lynching in August 1915 and the end of Slaton’s political career. Slaton lived on property adjacent to today’s Atlanta History Center and Slaton Drive (named in his honor). He is buried in Oakland Cemetery.
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Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
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ABOUT THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL MARKER PROGRAM
The Georgia Historical Society has administered Georgia’s historical marker program since 1998, erecting over 200 historical markers across Georgia on a wide variety of subjects. Now, online mapping tools allow you to design statewide driving routes based on historical markers, while mobile apps give information about markers nearby. Visit georgiahistory.com for more ways to use Georgia’s historical markers and experience history where it happened.