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Source: Auburn Weekly Bulletin
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “A Nation Is Avenged”
Author(s): Graham, George Edward
City of publication: Auburn, New York
Date of publication: 29 October 1901
Volume number: 20
Issue number: 87
Pagination: 1

Graham, George Edward. “A Nation Is Avenged.” Auburn Weekly Bulletin 29 Oct. 1901 v20n87: p. 1.
full text
Leon Czolgosz (execution); Leon Czolgosz (last words); Leon Czolgosz (incarceration: Auburn, NY); Leon Czolgosz (disposal of remains).
Named persons
Cornelius V. Collins; Leon Czolgosz; Waldeck Czolgosz; Edwin F. Davis; John Gerin; Carlos F. MacDonald [misspelled once below]; William McKinley; J. Warren Mead; Walter N. Thayer; Allen P. Tupper.
The article is accompanied on the same page with two illustrations, captioned as follows: “Czolgosz, the Assassin” and “The Chair and Victim.”


A Nation Is Avenged


He Made a Statement from the Chair in Which He Said He Was Not
Sorry He Had Killed the President.

     AUBURN, 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.

Statement from 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.”

Slept Soundly Last Night.

     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 down presently.”

Dressed for His Death.

     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.

Wanted to Make a Statement.

     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 prisoner sullenly.

His Last Breakfast.

     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.

Procession to Death Chamber.

     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.

The Current Tested.

     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.

The March to the Chair.

     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.

Stumbled Twice on the Way.

     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.

Not Sorry for His Crime.

     “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.

The Current Turned On.

     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 extreme tenseness.
     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.

The Current on Three Times.

     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.

All Over in Four Minutes.

     From the time Czolgosz had left his cell until the full penalty was paid, less than four minutes had elapsed.
     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 dead.”
     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.


Body to Be Buried in Quick Lime.

     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 cremated.



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