Saw the Assassin Die
Dr. Trowbridge Describes the Electrocution Scene.
CZOLGOSZ FULL OF FEAR
PHYSICIAN HEARD LAST WORDS DISTINCTLY—DOES NOT
WISH TO SEE ANOTHER EXECUTION.
Dr. Grosvenor R. Trowbridge was one
of the three Buffalo men who were on the jury of witnesses to Czolgosz’s
death. The others were Charles R. Huntley, general manager of the
Buffalo General Electric Company, and Sheriff Samuel Caldwell. Dr.
Trowbridge returned from Auburn at 6 o’clock last evening. When
seen at his home by an Express reporter and questioned as to what
he saw and the impressions he received, he said:
“I had never before seen an electrocution
and I never wish to see another. I would not care to; in fact, I
would not witness an execution where there was the slightest room
for doubt as to the guilt of the convicted man. I was cocksure that
Czolgosz was guilty, so I had no compunction on that score.
“As we were admitted to the death
chamber ,there [sic] was haste on the part of some of the witnesses
to get back seats. There were two rows of chairs facing the electric
chair. The chairs were the space of a chair apart, so that those
who sat in the back row looked between those who sat in front. My
chair was in the front row, directly in front of the rubber platform,
which was, perhaps, six feet square, on which the death-chair stood.
“I would not say so positively, but
it is my impression that the assassin was full of fear when he was
brought in. I could see his hands tremble, and I verily believe
that were it not for the support of the two big guards who held
him between them, his legs would have given way under him. He stumbled
in getting to the chair, one of his feet tripping on the edge of
the rubber platform. That may have been because he did not see the
platform, or his fear may have had something to do with it. He had
a frightened, hunted expression on his face.
“He said nothing until he was seated
in the chair. Then, while they were strapping him and applying the
electrodes, he leaned forward with his hands on the arms of the
chair and, facing the witnesses in front of him, made his last speech.
It was very short. I listened intently and I am sure of every word
he said and the order in which he placed his words. These are all
the words he spoke, and just as he spoke them:
“‘I killed the President for the good
of the laboring people—the good people. I am not sorry for my crime,
but I am sorry I can’t see my father.’
“Then they put on the death mask.
I believe had they waited a moment he would have said more. I saw
his lips move as if he had more to say, just as the mask was put
over his face. But I believe from what I heard in the prison that
it was not the desire of the officials to let him talk at all. Warden
Mead told me Czolgosz had ample opportunity to say all he wanted
to say. On Monday night he was asked if he wished to make any final
remarks. Czolgosz replied that he did not wish to speak at that
time, but would do so in the morning. The warden’s belief is that
Czolgosz wanted to talk before a crowd. But the prison officials
evidently did not wish him to make a scene. They did their work
quickly and had he not taken advantage of the brief time it took
to strap him and apply the electrodes, he probably would not have
had the chance to say even the few words he said.
“The whole operation of fastening
the straps, puttng [sic] the electrodes in position and dropping
the mask took but a few seconds. Then the warden, stationed close
to the doorway of the little room in which was the switchboard,
in which doorway State-Electrician Davis stood, so that he could
handle the switch and watch the man in the chair at the same time,
gave the signal to Mr. Davis and the current was turned on instantly.
Then came the violent convulsions of the muscles, accompanied by
the sound of the straining and creaking of the chair.
“The first current lasted, it seemed
to me, but a few seconds, surely less than half a minute. Then it
was turned on again for about the same length of time. Then Dr.
Carlos MacDonald and Dr. Gerin, the prison physician, who stood
beside the chair, leaned over and listened to the heart for a second
or so and pronounced him dead. Then the current was turned on for
the third time. It lasted for about the same length of time as the
two previous currents. Then all physicians present were invited
to step up and listen at the dead man’s breast—for he was dead after
the first stroke. Drs. MacDonald and Gerin first listened, after
which Dr. Ely of Binghamton, Dr. Hower of Phelps and myself listened.
The heart had stopped beating.
“I talked with Electrician Davis afterward,
and he explained that when he administered the first shock he put
on the full current—some 1,700 or 1,800 volts—immediately and kept
it on until the end of the first shock. The second time he turned
the full force at the start, then cut it down gradually. The third
time he started it low and gradually ran it up to the full force.
“It seemed to me that the whole business,
from the time the assassin was led into the death chamber to the
time the last shock was applied, was not much over one minute. The
physicians present were invited to remain and witness the autopsy,
which was performed by Dr. MacDonald and Dr. E. H. Spitzka of New
York. I stayed only long enough to see the head measurements taken.
It was not a small head, it was very normal. Czolgosz did not, to
me, look like either a half-witted person or a criminal. I saw much
worse looking faces in the prison and I have seen much less intelligent
looking faces right in our own Polish district in East Buffalo.
Though he was not overbright looking, he appeared to be fairly intelligent.”
Charles R. Huntley was impressed that
the doomed man was quite calm, that what he said he had previously
arranged to say, that he manifested no spirit of bravado, but said
the few things as if he felt it his duty to say them.
Sheriff Caldwell considered that Czolgosz
was a man of great nerve. To him it appeared that the assassin gave
no evidence of fear as he was led to the death chair.
All three of the Buffalo witnesses
agree that the electrocution was perfectly arranged and executed
without the slightest hitch. “It was a credit to the State and the
country,” said Dr. Trowbridge.