Trial and Conviction of the Assassin—Remarkable
Scenes in Court—Counsel
Laments the President’s Death—Sentence of Death Pronounced.
THE assassin of President McKinley was convicted of
murder in the first degree at 4.26 o’clock in the afternoon of September
24th. Less than three hours of trial was required to hurry him to
his doom, so that this will probably rank as the quickest capital
case in the criminal annals of America.
Virtually nothing was done beyond
the narration of the established facts of the killing. What was
termed defense consisted merely in admonition to the jury to gravely
consider whether or not the assassin was laboring under mental aberration,
but no witnesses were called, and the address of counsel was, in
all effect, a plea for the prosecution.
The jury was away from the court room
exactly thirty-five minutes, but only from a sense of the decencies
of legal procedure. They were unanimous in their finding before
they left the box, and spent not a moment in deliberation.
Says an eye-witness of the trial:
“Almost at the very moment that the
last dramatic episode was acting to-day, the father, brother and
sister of the assassin arrived from Cleveland. They are Paul, Waldeck
and Victoria Czolgosz. Their avowed purpose was to aid in the speedy
punishment of the murderer of whom they speak in terms of loathing,
but they were nevertheless taken into custody as a measure of precaution,
and Czolgosz does not know they are in the city. Even if he knew
he probably would not care.
“The fellow is thoroughly callous.
Resigned to the inevitable consequences of his crime from the very
moment of its inception, he is evidently empty of all human feeling.
Neither hoping nor wishing for compassion, he rejected the creeds
of God  and man and the ties
of blood and friendship at the same time, and, with the abject indifference
of an animal, has ever since looked forward only to the verdict
of the darkness and the silence that awaits him.
“So much became clear in to-day’s
testimony, which revealed many new details, and awful corroboration
was given to it in the aspect and bearing of the creature at the
most desperate moment that well can fall to human kind. Not the
tremor of a lash ruffled his stolidity when the words of doom were
uttered. His fixed, abstracted gaze never stirred. He was still
stone and iron, unrelenting, remorseless and heedless.
“It was only twenty minutes to 10
o’clock when the detectives brought him into court this morning.
When they unshackled his hands he passed them carelessly over his
thick damp locks. Then he crossed his legs, tapped a tattoo on the
arm of his chair for a moment, and settled into the immovable attitude
which has marked him throughout.
BEGAN TO CARE FOR HIS APPEARANCE.
“He did not sleep well
last night, his wardens said, but ate his breakfast this morning
with relish, consuming chops, eggs, rolls and three cups of coffee.
He displayed some vanity about his appearance, too, insisting on
straightening his hair with his fingers and smoothing the wrinkles
in his clothes.”
By 10 o’clock Justice White was on
the bench, the lawyers in their places, and the hearing of evidence
again in swift progress. Mr. Mann was recalled and gave some very
interesting medical testimony. Judge Lewis cross-examined. First
“How do you guard against the invasion
of germs in the wound?”
“By being very careful in the treatment,”
said the doctor.
“When was the condition found at the
autopsy to be expected from the wounds the President received?”
“It was not expected, and was very
unusual. I never before saw anything just like it.” 
“Were there any indications that the
President was not in good physical condition?”
“The President was not in perfect
condition. He had been somewhat weakened by hard work and lack of
District Attorney Penny then asked:
“From your knowledge and history of
the case was there anything known to medical or surgical science
which could have saved the life of the President?”
“There was not.”
Lewis L. Babcock, who was a member
of the ceremonies committee on President’s day, and Edward Rice,
chairman of that committee, then gave their eye-witness versions
of the shooting. Both were within a few feet of the President at
the time. Mr. Rice’s narration was very graphic.
A ZEALOUS STUDENT OF ANARCHISM.
The next witness gave
the first circumstantial story of the confession alleged to have
been made by Czolgosz on the night of his arrest. He was James L.
Quackenbush, also a member of the ceremonial committee. He said:
“I accompanied District Attorney Penny
to police headquarters, arriving there between 10 and 11 o’clock.
Upon reaching there we went to Chief Bull’s office. Defendant was
at a table in his office. Detectives Geary and Solomon, Inspector
Donovan, Chief Bull, Mr. Haller, Mr. Storr and Frank T. Haggerty
were present, and at intervals Mr. Ireland, myself and Mr. Cusack.
Mr. Penny immediately began to talk to the defendant about what
he had done.
“Then the defendant replied that he
had killed the President because he thought it was his duty. He
said he understood the consequences, and was willing to take chances.
“He illustrated with a handkerchief
the way he had done it. He said he went to the Falls the day before
to kill the President, but was not able to get near enough. He added
that he went to the Temple of Music for the purpose of killing the
President, having his hand with the revolver in his right-hand 
pocket. He stood in the crowd, but said that when he got in the
line he put the hand against his stomach. Had he not been stopped
he would have fired more shots.
“He said he had been thinking about
killing the President for three or four days. He had definitely
determined to kill the President the day before.”
“Did he say why?” asked the District
“Yes; he said that he did not believe
in the government; that President McKinley was a tyrant, and should
be removed. When he saw the President in the grounds, with the crowds
struggling to get near him, he said he did not believe that any
one man should receive such service, while all others regarded it
as a privilege to render it.”
“Did he say where he had learned such
“THOUGHT IT WAS HIS DUTY.”
“He said he had been
studying those doctrines for several years; that he did not believe
in government, the church, or the marriage relation. He gave names
of several papers he had read, one of the [sic] Free Society, and
mentioned places in Ohio where he had heard these subjects discussed.”
This was the first official mention
of the anarchy plea story, and it was apparent on cross-examination
that Judge Titus was skeptical about it.
“Were these statements made,” he asked,
“in response to suggestions from the officials or voluntarily?”
“At first,” answered the witness,
“in response to questions. Afterward he talked in a conversational
way, and did not decline to answer anything.”
“Was he excited?”
“I should say he was disturbed, but
not mentally. His face hurt him where he had been struck, but he
talked naturally. I asked him to write a brief statement for publication,
and he started to, but his hand shook so, he dictated the following:
“‘I killed President McKinley because
I believed it to be my  duty.
I don’t believe one man should have so much service and another
man should have none.’”
District Attorney Penney then interpolated:
“You made a statement that he said
he was an anarchist; is that right?”
“I didn’t make it so strong as that.
He said he didn’t believe in rulers, and had done his duty.”
“The District Attorney used the word
several times in questioning him, and the substance of his answers
was that he did all the theorizing on the matter for himself.”
During this line of testimony Czolgosz,
without shifting his position, allowed his head to incline until
it almost touched his left shoulder, but he did not raise his eyes,
and once or twice dropped into a little doze. He was so absolutely
unconcerned that he did not appear to be even listening to the testimony.
THE ASSASSIN THROTTLED.
With the calling of
the Secret Service operatives the amusing little rivalry as to who
first attacked the assassin after the shooting came up.
Albert Gallagher, of the Chicago office,
said that he jumped toward Czolgosz and was borne down in the crowd.
The revolver was knocked from the assassin’s hand and somebody else
got it, but he got the handkerchief. He took this from his pocketbook
and displayed it. It was a dirty rag, with two holes made by the
bullets, and it was not a woman’s handkerchief, as some imaginative
stories have said.
George K. Foster, the Washington Secret
Service man, said: “I saw this man here (pointing to the assassin)
put his hands together with a clap, and simultaneously I heard two
“I grabbed this man here (again pointing
to Czolgosz), and just then some one gave him a shove from the other
side. We went down to the floor. I tried to get a crack at him as
he went down, but could not. I saw Gallagher and yelled: ‘Al, get
the gun! get the gun! Al, get the gun!’” 
Judge Titus took up the cross-examination.
“Were you observing the people in
the line to see if they were armed?”
“I was trying to.”
“Didn’t you see this man with his
arm across his breast?”
“No; they were passing too close together.”
“The line passed right in front of
you, and this man had his arm up with a white handkerchief wound
round his hand, and yet you could not see it?”
“I didn’t see it and I was looking,”
POLICE SUPERINTENDENT TESTIFIES.
The testimony of the
afternoon session was largely corroborative of what had gone before.
Superintendent Bull, of the local police, reiterated the story of
the confession, and added that of the visit of Walter Nowak, of
Cleveland, to Czolgosz the morning after the shooting. He said:
“On Saturday morning Nowak was brought
into the Superintendent’s office and immediately recognized Czolgosz.
Nowak said that he knew him in Cleveland. He said to Czolgosz: ‘You
know me, Czolgosz. I have always been a good friend of yours. Why
did you commit this crime—this crime which will bring disgrace on
the whole Polish race—this crime which will bring disgrace on your
father and family?’
“Czolgosz only smiled, and said that
Nowak was not a particular friend.”
“He was asked if he wanted to see
a lawyer, and he said he did not because he did not need one. He
also said he had no friends, and did not care to see his father
At the end of this testimony District
Attorney Penney rested for the people, and amid profound silence
Judge Lewis arose to open the defense. He began by explaining the
position of himself and his colleague, and almost entreated that
the legal necessity of it be understood. As he went on to discuss
the case his voice trembled and he almost wept.
“That, gentlemen, is about all I have
to say. Our President  was
a grand man. I watched his career for twenty years, and always had
the profoundest esteem for him. He was a tender and devoted husband,
a man of finest character, and his death is the saddest blow I have
He concluded abruptly, sank into his
chair, and pressed a handkerchief to his eyes. It was the strangest
plea for a murderer ever heard. Judge Titus then arose.
“The remarks of my associate,” he
said, “so completely cover the ground that it is not necessary for
me to add anything.”
SENTENCED TO DEATH.
This sudden action on
the face of the expectation of expert testimony on insanity was
a great surprise, and a buzz of talk followed. Silence fell again
when District Attorney Penney arose for the last speech. It was
brief, but full of feeling. He dwelt upon the entire certainty of
the people’s case and the utter absence of defense and urged that
just as a defendant must be presumed innocent until proved guilty,
so he must be presumed sane until proved otherwise.
Apart from that argument the Prosecutor
spoke of the horror of the crime and the eminent virtues of the
martyr in such a strain of simple eloquence that men and women wept
alike. Czolgosz never moved a muscle.
It was 3.25 o’clock when Judge White
charged the jury. He, too, paid tender tribute to the memory of
the dead man and then instructed the jury in the legal requirements
of the city.
They retired at 3.51, and thirty-five
minutes later brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree.
On September 26th, Leon Czolgosz was
sentenced to die during the week beginning October 28th. The sentence
was pronounced by Justice White before whom the murderer was tried.
The assassin showed signs of fear as the voice of the Judge pronounced
his doom. During the night following, guarded by nearly a score
of deputy sheriffs, he was removed to Auburn Penitentiary. He collapsed
on arriving at the prison, said he was sorry for his deed and expressed
sympathy for Mrs. McKinley.