Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Czolgosz Executed in Auburn Prison”
City of publication: Baltimore, Maryland
Date of publication: 2 November 1901
Volume number: 10
Issue number: 13
|“Czolgosz Executed in Auburn Prison.” Afro-American-Ledger 2 Nov. 1901 v10n13: p. .|
|Leon Czolgosz (execution); Leon Czolgosz (last words); Leon Czolgosz (incarceration: Auburn, NY); Leon Czolgosz (autopsy); Leon Czolgosz (disposal of remains).|
|Cornelius V. Collins; Leon Czolgosz; Edwin F. Davis; John Gerin [misspelled once below]; Carlos F. MacDonald [misspelled below; first name wrong below]; William McKinley; J. Warren Mead; Edward A. Spitzka; Allen P. Tupper.|
Czolgosz Executed in Auburn Prison
The Assassin of President McKinley Pays the Penalty in the Death
LAST ACT IN THE GREAT TRAGEDY.
Sullen and Unrepentant the Anarchist Murderer Goes to His Death, Denouncing
Religion, Cursing the Priests and the Church and Declaring That He Alone
Was Responsible for the Crime.
Auburn, N. Y. (Special).—Leon Czolgosz, who shot
and fatally wounded President McKinley in Buffalo on September 6, was electrocuted
at 7.12.30 Tuesday morning in Auburn Prison. He was shocked to death by 1700
volts of electricity. At 7.15 he was pronounced dead. He went to the chair showing
no particular sign of fear and unaccompanied by a spiritual adviser. He surprised
everyone present by talking to the witnesses while being strapped to the chair.
“I killed the President because he was an enemy of the good people—of the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime.”
A moment later he mumbled through the half-adjusted face straps:
“I am awfully sorry I did not see my father.”
In a few seconds the current of electricity was turned on. The full voltage was used for seven seconds, and was then slowly reduced for about forty-five seconds. The full voltage of 1700 was then again turned on for eight seconds. A third time the full strength of the current entered the body, although the third contact was not thought necessary.
Czolgosz retired Monday night at 10 o’clock and slept so soundly that when Warden Mead went to the cell, the guard inside had to shake Czolgosz to awaken him. The prison official took from his pocket the death warrant and read it slowly and distinctly to the assassin. Just as the warden stepped away from the cell door Czolgosz called to him and said: “I would like to talk with the Superintendent.”
The Warden responded: “He will be down presently.”
Superintendent Collins visited the cell at about 5.30 o’clock. The Superintendent stood in front of the steel bars and Czolgosz said: “I want to make a statement before you kill me. I want to make it when there are a lot of people present. I want them to hear me,” said the prisoner.
“Well, you cannot,” said the Superintendent.
“Then I won’t talk at all,” said the prisoner, sullenly.
After the Superintendent had left the guards brought Czolgosz breakfast, consisting of coffee, toast, eggs and bacon. Czolgosz seemed to relish the food. Meanwhile the witnesses were gathering in the office of Warden Mead, and at 7.06 o’clock the procession passed to the death chamber. The witnesses seated themselves and Warden Mead briefly addressed them, saying:
“You are here to witness the legal death of Leon Czolgosz. I desire that you keep your seats and preserve absolute silence in the death chamber, no matter what may transpire.”
Warden Mead gave the signal to have the prisoner brought in, and at 7.10.30 o’clock Chief Keeper Tupper swung open the big steel door leading to the cells of condemned men.
When the attendants had strapped the condemned man in the chair, they stepped back and Warden Mead raised his hand. At 7.12.30 Electrician Davis turned the switch. At 7.15 the current was turned off. The prisoner was then dead, but two minutes passed before the Warden turned to the witnesses and said: “Gentlemen, the prisoner is dead.” The body was then placed on the operating table. The clothing and personal effects of the prisoner were burned under direction of Warden Mead a short time after the execution.
The autopsy was completed shortly before noon, when the surgeons issued the following brief statement:
“The autopsy was made by Mr. Edward A. Spitzka, of New York, under the immediate supervision and direction of Dr. Charles F. McDonald, of New York, and Dr. John Perin, prison physician. The autopsy occupied over three hours, and embraced a careful examination of all the bodily organs, including the brain. The execution [sic] revealed a perfectly healthy state of all the organs, including the brain.
“All of the physicians who attended the execution were present at the autopsy, and all concurred in the findings of the examiners.”
The body was placed in a black stained pine coffin, every portion of the anatomy being replaced under the supervision of Dr. Gerin and Warden Mead. Shortly afterward it was taken to the prison cemetery, and an extraordinary precaution taken to completely destroy it. A few days ago, under the Warden’s order, an experiment was made to determine the power of quicklime in the destruction of flesh and bone, which was not satisfactory. Warden Mead at once conferred with some of the physicians present and determined, in conjunction with Superintendent Collins, that the purpose of the law was the destruction of the body, and that it was not necessary to use quicklime for that end.
Accordingly, a carboy of acid was obtained and poured upon the body in the coffin after it had been lowered into the grave. Straw was used in the four corners of the grave as the earth was put in to give vent to such gases as might form.
It is the belief of the physicians that the body will be entirely disintegrated within 12 hours. During that time and as long as deemed necessary a guard will be kept over the unmarked grave.