Czolgosz, President’s Assassin,—Refusing Spiritual
Executed in the Auburn Prison
He Said He Fully Expected To Die and Knew That Would
Be His Fate if He Succeeded.
HIS RELATIVES WANTED TO SEE HIM KILLED.
The Remains To Be Buried In Quicklime and All Evidences
of Their Existence
Completely Obliterated by the Prison Authorities.
It didn’t take very long to put Leon
Czolgosz, the cowardly assassin of President McKinley, out of the
world, and the time between his trial and his death was as brief
as the law allows. At a few minutes after 7 o’clock on the morning
of October 29, he was strapped in the big oak chair in the execution
room of the State prison at Auburn, and a current of 1,700 volts
sent through his body, followed by a lighter current. He refused
religion and he refused to make a confession.
The murderer was interviewed at length
by Superintendent Collins the night before he was killed in the
hope of obtaining a confession.
“Now, Czolgosz,” said he, “I want
you to talk to me. I’m the only one that can do you any good, and
if you tell me all I may help you to get out of here.”
“I don’t want to get out of here.
They’d kill me outside,” was the dogged answer.
“Who would kill you?”
“You mean those who told you to kill
“No, nobody told me to kill the President.
I mean the people.”
“Who gave you the money to get to
“No one. A man in Chicago wanted to
see me and I went there from Cleveland.”
“Who was the man?”
“I don’t remember.”
“Where did he live?”
“I don’t know the names of the streets
“Did this man pay your fare to Buffalo?”
“No. I earned some money at painting
and carpenter work.”
“Didn’t this man in Chicago and some
others tell you to kill the President?”
“No. I thought it out myself. I knew
what I was to do, and I expected to die for it.”
The attempt, like all previous ones,
ended in positive failure, as the man was evidently so in fear of
his unknown accomplices that he feared to even mention names.
He Slept Peacefully.
Strangely enough, when he retired
on Monday night it was to sleep peacefully, and he was still asleep
when at 5:30 o’clock Warden Mead went to his cell and awakened him
that he might hear his death warrant. He listened stupidly to the
reading of the death document, and when it was finished he asked
if he might see his brother again, but he was told it would be impossible.
During this time the witnesses were
gathering, and the condemned man was allowed to eat breakfast. He
was sullen as ever, and he seemed all through the ordeal more animal
In the Death Chamber.
As he was brought into
the death chamber and into sight of the chair in which he was to
meet his doom, Czolgosz comported himself with no evidence of weakness.
He walked firmly, took his seat in the chair without a tremor, and
then, as the cap was adjusted, said something through his teeth
that sounded like a curse. The keepers paused and asked if he wished
to say anything. Czolgosz straightened up and said:
“I am not sorry I did this thing.
I did it for the working people. My only regret is that I have not
been able to see my father.”
Then he sat back and allowed the keepers
to adjust the straps and electrodes.
And then almost before the echo of
the words had died away and while the witnesses stood in a breathless
semicircle around the fatal spot, the signal was given, the current
was turned on and the deadly electric current shot through the body
of the miserable wretch.
Turning on the Current.
At exactly 7:12:30 o’clock
the signal was given and the electric current shot through the body
of Leon Czolgosz.
There was the usual straining of the
body during the passage of the current and then, after its cessation,
the limp sinking back.
The current was turned off after twenty-eight
seconds, while the physicians listened at the heart and felt for
Another shock was shot through the
body, and when this had been turned off and a second examination
made, the assassin was officially pronounced dead.
The straps were taken off and the
body removed at once to the operating table, where the autopsy was
immediately begun by Drs. MacDonald and Gervin.
One of the most astounding requests
ever made in the memory of the prison officials came from the brother
and brother-in-law of the prisoner, who asked to be permitted to
witness the execution of their relative.
The proposition was made without emotion,
quite in a matter-of-fact manner, and was repeated after the first
refusal, until the Superintendent was compelled to express his feelings
and ordered the pair from the prison.
The first request was made in the
presence of the prisoner and he seconded it.
When about to leave the prisoner the
visitors turned to the Superintendent and made the suggestion.
“Yes, Mr. Superintendent,” added Czolgosz,
“let them see me killed.”
Superintendent Collins declined emphatically
and ordered the trio to bid each other farewell.
Remains in Quicklime.
In order to avoid all
sensationalism arrangements were immediately made to bury the body
in quicklime in the prison cemetery, which will speedily obliterate
all trace of it. A guard will be maintained at the grave for such
time as may be deemed necessary to make sure that no possibility
will be afforded to carry off a grewsome relic.
To accomplish this it was necessary
to obtain the consent of Waldek Czolgosz, brother of the murderer,
which was readily given.
As was expected by the prison officials,
numerous offers were received by promoters of exhibitions to pay
large prices for permission to defeat the desire of the State to
get the horrible details out of public sight.
One museum proprietor offered $5,000
for either the body or the clothing of the assassin. A picture-making
concern wanted to make moving pictures of the entrance of Czolgosz
to the death chamber and bid $2,000 for the privilege.
Everything that belonged to Czolgosz