Source: Madison County Times
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “An Impressive Scene”
City of publication: Chittenango, New York
Date of publication: 1 November 1901
Volume number: 32
Issue number: 14
|“An Impressive Scene.” Madison County Times 1 Nov. 1901 v32n14: p. .|
|Leon Czolgosz (execution); Leon Czolgosz (last words).|
|Cornelius V. Collins; Leon Czolgosz; John Gerin; Carlos F. MacDonald; William McKinley; J. Warren Mead [misspelled once below]; Edward A. Spitzka; Allen P. Tupper.|
An Impressive Scene
Assassin of President McKinley Put to Death in Electric Chair.
Auburn, Oct. 31.—Leon Czolgosz, the assassin
of President McKinley, has paid the extreme penalty exacted by the law for his
crime. He was shocked to death by 1,700 volts of electricity. He went to the
chair, showing no particular sign of fear, and talked to the witnesses while
he was being strapped in the chair. He said: “I killed the President because
he was an enemy of the good people—of the working people. I am not sorry for
my crime.” The current was then turned on, and after three contacts the prisoner
was pronounced to be dead.
When Warden Mead went to the cell a little before 5 o’clock in the 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.”
After he was dressed, at 5:30, Superintendent Collins went to his cell, after the warden read the death warrant, Czolgosz 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.
At 7:10½ o’clock, Tupper, the chief keeper, swung open the 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 followed behind, and the chief keeper walking in front. The guards on either side of Czolgosz had hold of his arms. As he stepped over the threshold he stumbled, but they held him up, and as they urged his 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 young and boyish. He was very pale, and as he tried to throw his head back, his chin quivered. As he was being seated he looked steadily about at the assembled witnesses and uttered the words quoted above: “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 head-rest and drew the strap across his forehead and chin. As the pressure on the straps tightened and bound the jaw slightly, he mumbled words of regret that he could not see his father.
It was 7:11 o’clock when he crossed the threshold, and only a minute had elapsed when he finished the last statement and the strapping was completed and the guards stepped back. Warden Meade raised his hand, and at 7:12:30 the electrician turned the switch that threw 1,700 volts of electricity into the assassin’s body.
From the time Czolgosz had left his cell until his death less than four minutes had elapsed. The physicians present used the stethoscope and other tests to determine whether any life remained, and at 7:17 the warden, raised his hand, announced: “Gentlemen the prisoner is dead.”
The autopsy conducted by Doctors Gerin, MacDonald and Spitzka, was thorough. It occupied three hours and embraced a careful examination of all the bodily organs. The examination revealed a perfectly healthy state of all the organs, including the brain.
The murderer’s body was buried by the prison authorities, to whom claim upon it was surrendered by Czolgosz’s brother. It was buried with quicklime, as the law directs, so that it may be speedily consumed, and every precaution will be taken to keep the exact place of burial from being known so that nothing may take place hereafter to resurrect the name of Czolgosz. The prison cemetery must be its final resting place, under the law, but before it has been buried long it will probably be indistinguishable from the quicklime in which it was packed away.