A Nation Is Avenged
PUT TO DEATH TO-DAY
He Made a Statement from the Chair in Which He Said He Was Not
Sorry He Had Killed the President.
Oct. 29.—At 7:12½ o’clock this morning Leon Czolgosz, murderer
of President William McKinley, paid the extreme penalty exacted
by the law for his crime. He was shocked to death by 1700 volts
of electricity. He went to the chair in exactly the same manner
as have the majority of all the other murderers in this State, showing
no particular sign of fear, but in fact, doing what few of them
have done, talking to the witnesses while he was being strapped
in 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.”
These were his words as the guards
hurried him into the chair.
Words he supplemented a moment later
mumbling them through the half adjusted face straps, “I am awfully
sorry I could not see my father.”
Czolgosz retired last night at 10
o’clock and slept so soundly that when Warden Mead went to the cell
shortly before 5 this morning the guard inside had to shake Czolgosz
to awaken him. He sat up on the edge of his cot and made no reply
to the warden’s greeting of good morning.
The prison official took from his
pocket the death warrant and read it slowly and distinctly to the
assassin, who hardly raised his eyes during the perfunctory ceremony.
Just as the warden stepped away from
the cell door, Czolgosz called to him and said: “I would like to
talk to the superintendent.”
The warden responded: “He will be
Then the condemned man rolled over
on his cot apparently anxious to sleep again. At 5:15, however,
the guard brought to him a pair of dark trousers with the left leg
slit so as to allow the free application of the electrode, and a
light gray outing shirt. He was told to get up and put these on,
which he did.
Contrary to the usual custom, he was
given a new pair of shoes. When dressed he laid down on the cot
again and in this attitude Superintendent Collins found him at 5:30
when he went down to visit him.
The superintendent stood in front
of the steel bars and when the guard had called Czolgosz’s attention,
he said: “I want to make a statement before you kill me.”
“What do you wish to say, Czolgosz?”
asked the superintendent.
“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
After the superintendent had left
the guards brought Czolgosz’s breakfast, consisting of coffee, toast,
eggs and bacon, and he ate with quite a good deal of relish.
While he was partaking of this, the
witnesses were gathering in the office of Warden Mead and at 7:06
o’clock the procession passed to the death chamber, going through
the long South corridor.
In the chamber Electrician Davis
and former Warden Thayer, of Dannemora, had arranged the chair test,
placing a bank of 22 incandescent lights across the arms and connecting
the electrode wires at either end.
The witnesses were ordered seated
and then Warden Mead briefly addressed them, saying: “You are here
to witness the legal death of Leon F. Czolgosz. I desire that you
keep your seats and preserve absolute silence in the death chamber,
no matter what may transpire. There are plenty of guards and prison
officials to preserve order and attend to the proper details.”
The prison physician, Dr. John Gerin,
and Dr. Carlos F. McDonald, of New York, took a position to the
left of the chair, Warden Mead stood directly in front, and Electrician
Davis retired to the little room containing the electrical switchboard.
Thayer gave the signal and the current was turned through the electric
lights, flooding the chamber with brilliant light and dramatically
showing the power that was used to kill the prisoner.
Warden Mead gave the signal to have
the prisoner brought in, and at 7:10½ o’clock Principal Keeper
Tupper swung open the big steel door leading to the condemned cells,
and as the steel bars behind which Czolgosz had been kept were swung
aside two guards marched the prisoner out into the corridor, two
others following behind, and the principal keeper walking in front.
The guards on either side of Czolgosz
had hold of his arms either as if to support him, or to keep him
from making a demonstration. As he stepped over the threshold he
stumbled but they held him up and as they urged him forward toward
the chair he stumbled again on the little rubber covered platform
upon which the chair rests. His head was erect and with his gray
flannel shirt turned back at the neck, he looked quite boyish. He
was intensely pale and as he tried to throw his head back and erect,
his chin quivered very perceptibly.
As he was being seated he looked about
at the assembled witnesses with quite a steady stare and said: “I
killed the President because he was an enemy of the good people—of
the working people.”
His voice trembled slightly at first,
but gained strength with each word and he spoke perfect English.
“I am not sorry for my crime,” he
said loudly just as the guard pushed his head back on the rubber
head rest and drew the divisible strap across his forehead and chin.
As the pressure on the straps tightened and bound the jaw slightly
he mumbled, “I’m awfully sorry I could not see my father.”
It was just exactly 7:11 o’clock when
he crossed the threshold, but a minute had elapsed and he just had
finished his last statement when the strapping was completed and
the guards stepped back from the man.
Warden Mead raised his hand and at
7:12:30 Electrician Davis turned the switch that threw 1700 volts
of electricity into the living body. The rush of the immense current
threw the body so hard against the straps that they creaked perceptibly.
The hands clinched up suddenly and the whole attitude was one of
For 45 seconds the full current was
kept on and then slowly the electrician threw the switch back reducing
the current volt by volt until it was cut off entirely. Then just
as it had reached that point he threw the lever back again for a
brief two or three seconds. The body which had collapsed as the
current was reduced, stiffened up again against the straps.
When it was turned off again Dr.
MacDonald stepped to the chair and put his hand over the heart.
He said he felt no pulsation but suggested that the current be turned
on for a few seconds again. Once more the body became rigid. At
7:15 the current was turned off for good.
From the time Czolgosz had left his
cell until the full penalty was paid, less than four minutes had
The physicians used the stethoscope
and other tests to determine if any life remained and at 7:17 the
warden, raising his hand, announced: “Gentlemen, the prisoner is
The witnesses filed from the chamber,
many of them visibly affected, and the body, which five minutes
before had been full of life and vigor, was taken from the chair
and laid on the operating table.
The autopsy is now in progress.
Last evening Waldeck
Czolgosz, the assassin’s brother, signed a release of the body to
Warden Mead and it will be buried in quick lime instead of being