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Hugh Dorsey
Hugh Dorsey.jpg
62nd Governor of Georgia
In office
June 30, 1917 – June 25, 1921
Preceded byNathaniel E. Harris
Succeeded byThomas W. Hardwick
Personal details
Born(1871-07-10)July 10, 1871
Fayetteville, Georgia
DiedJune 11, 1948(1948-06-11) (aged 76)
Resting placeWestview Cemetery
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Adair Wilkinson
Alma materUniversity of Georgia

Hugh Manson Dorsey (July 10, 1871 – June 11, 1948) was an American lawyer who was notable as the prosecuting attorney in the Leo Frank trial of 1913. He was also a politician, a member of the Democratic Party, who was twice elected as the Governor of Georgia (1917–1921), and jurist, who served for more than a decade as a superior court judge (1935–1948) in Atlanta.

Early life and education

Hugh Dorsey was born in Fayetteville, Georgia in 1871.[1] At the age of 8, he moved with his family in 1879 to Atlanta, which was growing rapidly and had more economic opportunity.[citation needed] His father was an attorney there.[1]

Dorsey graduated from the University of Georgia in 1893.[1] After studying law at the University of Virginia, Dorsey joined his father's law firm in Atlanta in 1895. [2]

Marriage and family

Dorsey married Adair Wilkinson and had two children.[1] Dorsey's sister, Sarah, married Luther Rosser Jr., son of attorney Luther Rosser, who was chief counsel defending Leo Frank at trial and subsequent appeals.[3]


After working for several years with his father, in 1910, Dorsey was appointed solicitor general of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit.[1] He was a member of the Democratic Party,[4] as were most established Whites in the South after Reconstruction. In 1913, Dorsey was prosecuting attorney (serving as the solicitor general of the Fulton County Superior Court)[5] at the trial of Leo Frank, who was indicted for the murder of young factory worker Mary Phagan. Achieving conviction amid intense media coverage, Dorsey became famous.[1] Frank, a Jewish northerner from Brooklyn, was eventually lynched by a mob two months after Governor John Slaton commuted his death sentence to life in prison.

Dorsey's victory in the Frank-Phagan case contributed to his political popularity and being elected for two consecutive two-year terms as the Governor of Georgia from 1917 to 1921.[4]

Later he ran for the U.S. Senate but was defeated.[1] Dorsey served as a superior court judge in Atlanta from 1935 to 1948.[1]

Death and legacy

Dorsey died on June 11, 1948. He was buried in Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.[1] His grandson, Jaz Dorsey, was a composer, lyricist and playwright.[6]

Over the decades, the dramatic story of Frank's trial and lynching (after his death sentence was commuted) was adapted into many forms. He is seen in the 1964 fiction Profiles in Courage and 1988 TV-miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan, where Dorsey was portrayed by the actor Richard Jordan, and in the Broadway musical Parade, where he was portrayed in the original cast by Herndon Lackey.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stallings, Patricia. "Hugh M. Dorsey (1871-1948)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  2. ^ "June 11", This Day in Georgia History, Georgia Info, compiled by Ed Jackson and Charles Pou, Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Digital Library of Georgia, accessed Jul 20, 2010
  3. ^ Oney 2003, p. 616.
  4. ^ a b "Georgia Governor Hugh Manson Dorsey". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  5. ^ Oney 2003, p. 92.
  6. ^ "Obituary: James "Jaz" Dorsey". Out & About Nashville. June 16, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2019.


External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Nathaniel Edwin Harris
Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia
1916, 1918
Succeeded by
Thomas W. Hardwick
Political offices
Preceded by
Nathaniel E. Harris
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
Thomas W. Hardwick
This page was last edited on 13 May 2020, at 18:02
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