The ADL was established in Chicago 1913 by Sigmund Livingston and the support of B'nai B'rith as a result of the sham trial and conviction for murder in Atlanta of Leo Frank, a Northern Jew. Frank did not commit the murder, but the anti-Semitic atmosphere that dominated his trial, including chants of "hang the Jew, hang the Jew," virtually ensured his conviction. He was sentenced to death. The governor of Georgia commuted his sentence, but in 1915, Frank was lynched by a self-styled "vigilante committee."
Livingston's aim was "to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience, and if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. . . to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike. . . put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens." The words formed the ADL's charter.
Although identified with its long battle against anti-Semitism, the ADL combats hate in any form.