Source: Missouri Valley Times
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “His End Near”
City of publication: Missouri Valley, Iowa
Date of publication: 31 October 1901
Volume number: 34
Issue number: 19
|“His End Near.” Missouri Valley Times 31 Oct. 1901 v34n19: p. .|
|Leon Czolgosz (execution); Auburn State Prison; Auburn State Prison (electric chair); execution (by electrocution).|
|Leon Czolgosz [misspelled once below]; Earl R. Harris; William McKinley; George P. Shiley.|
His End Near
HOW CZOLGOSZ IS TO DIE.
President McKinley’s Assassin to Be Electrocuted Early Tomorrow Morning.
Early tomorrow morning, in Auburn, N. Y., will
be carried into execution the law’s mandate’s [sic] of a life for a life—Leon
Czolgosz, the condemned assassin of President McKinley, paying with his life
the forfeit exacted by law and society.
During a trip to New York, not many years ago, George P. Shiley and Earl R. Harris of this city, paid a visit to Auburn prison, and were shown through the entire institution, the execution chamber in which is located the chair of death and all of its gruesome accessories being an especially interesting portion of the trip. The “chamber of death,” as it is designated by the prison attendants, is located in a portion of the mammoth building isolated from the penitentiary building proper, and is reached after passing through a long corridor. The cells in which are confined condemned prisoners awaiting execution are within twenty-five feet of the execution room.
The execution chair, the direct descendent of the rack, guillotine and the gallows, is located in one end of the room on a raised platform about a foot higher than the floor. Immediately in front of the chair are grouped twenty-six chairs, the law of the state of New York requiring that each of these chairs have an occupant before the electrocution takes place.
During the stay in the “Death Chamber,” the “Chair” is the center of all interest. The chair is made after the fashion of a common easy chair, having a high back and wide arm rests. The chair rests on a thick rubber matting which furnishes complete insulation. The guard who was acting as guide, first explained the general features attending an execution, and then requested one of the party to become seated in the chair for the purpose of making a more complete demonstration of the workings of the chair.
First the condemned man is securely strapped to the chair. Located at the back of the chair and acting as a head rest, is a sliding arrangement shaped something like a figure “4.” From this is suspended a metalic [sic] cap, designated as the head electrode. This b[e]ll shaped cap is lined with sponge, which at the time of execution is saturated with a composition of salt water. Instead of the “black cap” used in hanging, a thick leather strap is used that serves the double purpose of hiding the face of the subject as well as holding the head erect.
On the inner side of the head strap are two small sponges, which when used are saturated with salt water and then connected with the wires on the back of the chair. When affixed these sponges press firmly on both temples and when the current is turned on the brain is instantly paralyzed. The least struggle on the part of the subject is prevented by the use of heavy straps to bind the arms to the sides of the chair, as are the ankles to the bottom of the chair. Another belt is fastened around the bare calf of the left leg just a few inches above the ankle, and when the current is turned on the body furnishes the circuit, the electricity entering through the cap on the head and after pasiing [sic] entirely through the body passes back to the dynamo through the electrodes attached to the leg. The person manipulating the deadly currents is not in the room in which the electrocution occurs, but is stationed in a small ante room about ten feet distant, communication being established by the use of electric signals. When the proper signal is given, the handle of the switch completing the circuit is dropped so as to complete the circuit and for the least fraction of a second the deadly current passes through the body 2,200 volts strong. This to all practical purposes produces immediate death, but after a few seconds it is turned on again, and at a decreased intensity leaps through the body of the condemned for nearly ten seconds—entering the body at the brain and passing out of the calf of the leg. For the third time the current is sent through the body, the last time the voltage being increased to slightly over 2,200.
The guard acting as an escort for the party explained the entire wo[r]kings of the mysterious apparatus in the fullest manner possible for people unaccustomed to electrical terms an[d] phrases. He stated that many horrible scenes had been enacted within the narrow confines of the four stone walls surrounding the death chamber, the condemned man weakening at the first sight of the chair.
Czologosz will walk only a distance of twenty-five feet, and within four minutes after his entry of the room he will be on trial in a court higher than that presided over by mortal man.