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Source: National Police Gazette
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Czolgosz, President’s Assassin,—Refusing Spiritual Consolation—Executed in the Auburn Prison”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: New York, New York
Date of publication: 16 November 1901
Volume number: 79
Issue number: 1265
Pagination: 7

“Czolgosz, President’s Assassin,—Refusing Spiritual Consolation—Executed in the Auburn Prison.” National Police Gazette 16 Nov. 1901 v79n1265: p. 7.
full text
Leon Czolgosz (execution); Leon Czolgosz (incarceration: Auburn, NY); Leon Czolgosz (interrogation); Leon Czolgosz (last words); Leon Czolgosz (disposal of remains).
Named persons
Cornelius V. Collins; Leon Czolgosz; Waldeck Czolgosz [first name misspelled below]; John Gerin [identified as Gervin below]; Carlos F. MacDonald; William McKinley; J. Warren Mead.
Article includes an inset photograph of Czolgosz and an artist’s rendering of a man strapped into an electric chair, with the following caption: “In the Electric Chair. Leon Czolgosz, the Murderer Whose Act Caused a Nation To Mourn, Is Killed Without Benefit of Clergy at Auburn Prison.”


Czolgosz, President’s Assassin,—Refusing Spiritual Consolation—
Executed in the Auburn Prison


He Said He Fully Expected To Die and Knew That Would Be His Fate if He Succeeded.


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?”
     “The people.”
     “You mean those who told you to kill the President?”
     “No, nobody told me to kill the President. I mean the people.”
     “Who gave you the money to get to Buffalo?”
     “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 there.”
     “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 than human.

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 the pulse.
     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 was burned.



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