"Hello, I'm William McKinley."
partial cover image from "American Boys' Life of William McKinley"                                              
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“No time was lost in turning on the current, and the manifestation that it was doing the appointed work was in the sudden, intense rigidity of the muscles of the man in the chair. His form seemed to be animated with a demoniac energy, as if his limbs and body were instantly converted into a substance of iron tenacity and that there was in every fiber a shuddering spasm.”

—— Murat Halstead, The Illustrious Life of William McKinley, Our Martyred President, 1901


“Czolgosz is a brute and death by electricity for such a man is not enough.”

—— John L. Sullivan, Albany Evening Journal, 21 Sept. 1901


The stain from our land, of this Czolgosz,
The Nation stands pledged to, this fall, wash.
     Since this country don’t suit him,
     We’ll electrocute him—
It may some of the anarchist gall quash.

—— anonymous, Aurora Daily Express, 25 Sept. 1901


“. . . the execution of Czolgosz will be neither adequate reparation for the crime nor protection for the future.”

—— anonymous, Gunton’s Magazine, Oct. 1901


“If the American people believe that the assassination of President McKinley was God’s will, why do they put Czolgosz to death? Do they wish to express their official disapproval of the will of God?”

—— anonymous, Socialist Spirit, Oct. 1901


“While we are willing to admit that among some of the many definitions of insanity, one may be found to fit this murderer’s case, there is some satisfaction in the knowledge that in New York State they have an excellent and according to our way of thinking an ideal method of treatment for that particular form of insanity, by means of heroic doses of electricity. The cure is rapid and there is no danger of relapse.”

—— anonymous, St. Paul Medical Journal, Oct. 1901


“You may be assured that nothing will be done by me to prevent the execution of Czolgosz on the day fixed by law.”

—— Benjamin B. Odell, Jr., Chicago Daily Tribune, 3 Oct. 1901


“If we were really sane and rational we would say: McKinley is dead; nothing we can do will bring him back to life. To kill the man who killed him will do no good; there would then be two murders instead of one.”

—— Moses Harman, Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, 5 Oct. 1901


“It is at this time a perfectly natural and justifiable cause of satisfaction that the hopeless and self-convicted perpetrator of the infamous crime which now darkens with mourning every honest American household can anticipate nothing more gratifying to his brutal self-conceit, and nothing more heroically notorious or sensational, than a shameful death under the law.”

—— Grover Cleveland, Saturday Evening Post, 5 Oct. 1901


“Uncle Sam has a rat in his trap—a human rat, fierce and vicious, with poisoned fangs. He is going to kill it like any other vermin, but mercifully. It will die by electricity, quickly and surely.”

—— anonymous, Chicago Sunday Tribune, 13 Oct. 1901


“If Czolgosz believed it to be his ‘duty,’ to kill McKinley, will not his electrocution make him a martyr in the eyes of all who believe as he does? And will not his death produce more assassinations of rulers, in accord with the well known principle that the ‘blood of its martyrs is the seed of the church?’”

—— Moses Harman, Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, 16 Oct. 1901


“No man will suffer the death penalty more righteously than Czolgosz.”

—— anonymous, Hawaiian Star, 22 Oct. 1901


“He was anxious to show his devotion to anarchy and its principles, and he followed the teachings of those subtle anarchists who preach assassination, and point the way to its commission, but are careful to avoid the act—the spilling of blood—and depend on the rashness of those who drink the poison of anarchy to die as Czolgosz has died this morning.”

—— anonymous, Buffalo Evening News, 29 Oct. 1901


“. . . he had a less painful death than would have befallen him had the people taken his execution into their own hands. They would have liked to trample on him as on a snake.”

—— anonymous, Chicago Daily Tribune, 30 Oct. 1901


“Child of yellow journalism and anarchy, the most contemptible being that God ever permitted to breathe the breath of life, Leon F. Czolgosz, the cowardly cur who assassinated President McKinley on September 6, went to his death in Auburn Prison Tuesday morning shortly after 7 o’clock, and by the use of a powerful electrical current of 1,700 volts the earth was made rid of the most loathsome creature it has ever known.”

—— anonymous, Iowa State Register, 30 Oct. 1901


“Thus has died a wretch whose existence on the earth was no more tolerable by society than if he had been a noxious reptile.”

—— anonymous, Sun [New York], 30 Oct. 1901


“This obdurate reprobate, past praying for, unjustifiable and indefensible, went out into the dark, panoplied only by his infinite baseness.”

—— anonymous, Wichita Daily Eagle, 30 Oct. 1901


“It was just and necessary that he be removed from the presence of mankind, upon even whose form and image he was a disgrace, an incubus, whose memory remains only as a foul recollection of the most despicable member of the human family whose very existence created an offensive eruption upon the face of Mother Earth.”

—— anonymous, Cody Enterprise, 31 Oct. 1901


“. . . the world will be happier for his being out of it.”

—— anonymous, Lewiston Teller, 31 Oct. 1901


“If the pistol of Czolgosz set the crown of martyrdom upon the head of William McKinley, may not the electric bolt of a New York sheriff do the same thing for Leon Czolgosz; and may not the canonization of McKinley’s assassin lead to other assassinations?”

—— Moses Harman, Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, 31 Oct. 1901


“. . . through the electric chair in Auburn prison this morning the assassin of the beloved President McKinley was removed from this earth and sent to the hosts of Satan, there to writhe through all ages to come in the agony of that worst of all human suffering comprised in a guilty conscience.”

—— anonymous, Ottumwa Semi-Weekly Courier, 31 Oct. 1901


“He could not by a thousand deaths make up to the American people the loss he has caused them. . . .”

—— anonymous, Western New-Yorker, 31 Oct. 1901


“. . . we would note that Czolgosz died in Auburn prison on Oct. 29th, and that even the press that gloated over his execution was sorrowfully compelled to admit he died like a brave man.”

—— anonymous, Freedom, Nov. 1901


“Czolgosz belonged in the same class with the beasts of the jungle and like them fit to be exterminated for the best good of humanity.”

—— anonymous, Medical Counselor, Nov. 1901


“. . . may we have cause to be thankful for a speedy execution of Czolgosz. The world has no place but the grave for such as he.”

—— William Waldorf Astor, Pall Mall Magazine, Nov. 1901


“I had expected him to die like a craven, but he surprised me.”

—— William D. Wolff, Auburn Weekly Bulletin, 1 Nov. 1901


“Czolgosz is no more and the world wishes he had not lived.”

—— anonymous, Chieftain, 2 Nov. 1901


“Exeunt Czolgosz and perish that unutterable name.”

—— anonymous, Freeman, 2 Nov. 1901


“The execution was one of the most successful ever conducted in the state.”

—— Cornelius V. Collins, Phillipsburg Herald, 2 Nov. 1901


“If, as Lucifer has contended, the shooting of McKinley was a ‘stupid, idiotic crime,’ then the burning to death of Czolgosz in what may be called the refinement of barbarism—the ‘electric chair’—was a crime millions of times more stupid and idiotic.”

—— Moses Harman, Lucifer, the Light-Bearer, 7 Nov. 1901


“The execution excited even less interest than is usually bestowed on the destruction of a notorious criminal, and if there were any sympathizers with Czolgosz or his deed, they have been deprived of the consolations of martyr worship by the cold and reticent enforcement of the law.”

—— anonymous, Collier’s Weekly, 9 Nov. 1901


“The execution by electricity of Leon F. Czolgosz, which took place in the State Prison at Auburn, New York, on the morning of October 29, 1901, terminated the earthly existence of the most monstrous magnicide of the age.”

—— Carlos F. MacDonald, Medical News, 9 Nov. 1901


“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.”

—— anonymous, National Police Gazette, 16 Nov. 1901


“We may kill Czolgosz, but, with his death, will we have killed the mother of his crime? Will she not still live and be the more infuriated by the death of her son?”

—— F. S. Key Smith, Albany Law Journal, Dec. 1901


“He went to his doom, not amid a blaze of tinsel glory, but silently disappeared from a world which he had designed to startle.”

—— anonymous, American Lawyer, Dec. 1901


“Czolgosz entered the chamber of death the coolest man of that company. He died with a curse upon his lips, and with the assertion that he was not sorry for his crime. Far from reforming, we launched him into an eternity whence repentance comes too late. We took from him all chance of a better life, of reform, and self-realization.”

—— A. H. Naylor, Hamilton Review, Dec. 1901


“. . . on the morning of October 28th, 1901, he was placed in the electric chair, and died the death to which his wicked, wanton act condemned him.”

—— LeRoy Parker, Yale Law Journal, Dec. 1901


“The orderly manner of the execution and all its attendants, was a great triumph of law. . . .”

—— William Garritson Browning, A Few More Words, 1902


“The wrath of government is a terrible wrath, its vengeance a double vengeance, a hideous and ghastly vengeance. It crisped the life and soul of its victim with the powerful electric spark; and ere the heart had yet stopped beating, and while the blood was still warm in his veins—the vengeful thirst for gore not yet satiated—it burned his limped body in acid and lime. Oh, thou government! Merciful exampler [sic] of Christian love!”

—— Jay Fox, Roosevelt, Czolgosz and Anarchy; and Communism, [1902?]


“Czolgosz should have been kept alive, under durance and scientific psychological surveillance, as the botanist would keep a newly found exotic, until more might have been learned of his strange mental make-up. . . .”

—— Charles Hamilton Hughes, Alienist and Neurologist, Jan. 1902


“As Czolgosz entered the room he appeared calm and self-possessed, his head was erect and his face bore an expression of defiant determination.”

—— Carlos F. MacDonald, American Journal of Insanity, Jan. 1902


“So far as Czolgosz was personally concerned, it was better for him to die than to pine to death in the padded cell of a madhouse. And your red-handed king-killers, how they rejoice over his execution and in coming into possession of another martyr and hero! He is made a new saint in their calendar, whom their children are taught to revere, and whose last words they treasure up as a sacred heritage.”

—— anonymous, Southern Mercury, 20 Feb. 1902


“It would be a good thing for society if his memory could be as effectually destroyed as was his body.”

—— E. A. Crooks, Christian Nation, 9 Apr. 1902


“I am not afraid to die. We all have to die some time.”

—— Leon Czolgosz, American Journal of Insanity, Oct. 1902


“Czolgosz can die in the chair, but America bears the pang of his bullet as a scar in eighty million hearts.”

—— William Curtis Stiles, The Upper Way, 1904


“Turn on the current! I’m ready!”
     No sign of pain he bore;
A corpse now in the chair he sat—
     The murderer is no more.

—— Dell Hair, Echoes from the Beat, 1908


“Leon Czolgosz presents a unique figure in the annals of revolutionary history. Never before did a fighter for freedom go to his death so absolutely alone and forsaken.”

—— Hippolyte Havel, Mother Earth, Oct. 1908


Dumb in the chair he waits—Oh hush, be still!
Once more a priest insults our patient God!

With fire of Heaven he withers like a leaf—
This hideous offering to our social Joss!

—— John G. Neihardt, Man-Song, 1909


He died the death! The Judas hand that threw
A world in tears, that penned for history
Another tale of blood-faced anarchy,
Returns to shameful dust,—the traitor’s due!

—— John Francis McShane, Culled Violets, 1911


“There was not the slightest terror in the sight, no more than to see a cat catch a rat.”

—— Charles R. Skinner, State Service, Apr. 1919



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