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to go out and commit a crime because some other man had committed it is as guilty as the latter, and his act is just as reprehensible.”
“Guilty of murder in the first degree as charged in the indictment," was the response of Foreman Henry W. Twendt to the formal question of the clerk, when the jury returned to the courtroom after an absence of thirty minutes. Czolgosz heard the verdict without apparent emotion and was handcuffed and led back to his cell.
The stony reserve which had been a distinguishing characteristic of the actions of Czolgosz, remained unbroken the day after his conviction, when the prisoner had a visit from the members of his family. His father, brother and sister, who obtained permission to visit him in the cell, were each overcome by their feelings and wept and implored Czolgosz to tell the names of the people who had aided him in the plot, in the hope that such a confession would release the family from the stain which had descended upon it.
To all such entreaties Czolgosz turned a deaf ear. He said quietly that he was glad to see his relatives, just as he would have said he was glad to see an acquaintance in the days of his freedom, and he talked quietly of every subject that was suggested to him save only the subject of a plot.
Victoria Czolgosz, the sister of the assassin, a girl 16 years of age and quite pretty, became eloquent as she described to her brother how the finger of scorn was pointed at them wherever they went and how the name of Czolgosz had become so infamous that they were ashamed to bear it before men. The girl wept bitterly and begged and begged again that some light might be thrown on the reason why he killed McKinley.
“I only did my duty. No, there was no one to help me. I did it all myself," said the prisoner at last, but without the slightest indication of regret or other emotion.
It was apparent throughout the interview that the prisoner did not trust the members of his family at all, but thought that they were acting as spies and had been brought to his cell in order that he might make some statements which would be of use to the police. For this reason his replies showed marked distrust and even in answers to questions of most simple import he waited a long time before giving answers.
In the course of the whole visit Czolgosz never asked a single question regarding his other relatives or showed any interest in the affairs of the world. Every word he uttered was in reply to a question, and every answer was restrained and guarded in its tenor. Reason, emotion, argument, paternal authority, sisterly affection, all alike failed to move him one jot from the stony impassiveness noticed in him from his first examination by the police.
For thirty-five minutes this interview proceeded, agonized on the part of the visitors, unconcerned on the side of the prisoner. Then came the time for good-byes. Paul Czolgosz, the father, his emotion clearly showing in his actions, tremblingly held out his hand to his son, who, even if he had killed the president of his country, was still his son. Czolgosz shook it quietly, bade his father good-bye in a quiet voice and then shook the hand of his brother Waldeck in the same half-friendly manner.
But his sister would not be content with this. The tears streaming down her cheeks, she flung her arms around the prisoner and kissed him several times. Quite unperturbed, Czolgosz submitted to her embrace and then when she turned to go said: “Good-bye, Victoria; good-bye, all of you.”
On the afternoon of September 26 the convicted assassin was brought into court to hear the already well-understood but none the less awful sentence of death. As a preliminary, the prisoner was sworn and examined by Mr. Penney. He answered the questions in a weak voice. In substance his statement was as follows:
He was, he said, born in Detroit, twenty-eight years ago, his last residence having been on Broadway, Buffalo. He was a single man and had worked as a laborer and ironworker. He received his education in the common and in Catholic schools; was a member of the Catholic church. His father was living, his mother dead. He stated that he did not drink much, but did not answer when asked if he was ever drunk. He had never been convicted of a crime.
Asked if he had anything to say, any reasons to urge why a sentence of death should not be pronounced upon him, the prisoner replied that he could not hear. After considerable explanation he made the following statement:
“There was no one else but me. No one else told me to do it and no one paid me to do it. I was not told anything about that crime and I never thought anything about murder until a couple of days before I committed the crime.”
Czolgosz sat down. He was quite calm, but it was evident that his mind was flooded with thoughts of his own distress. His eyes were dilated, making them appear very bright. His cheeks were a trifle pale and his outstretched hand trembled. The guards put the handcuffs on his wrists. He looked at one of the officers.
There was an expression of the profoundest fear and helplessness in his eyes. He glanced about at the people who crowded the room in efforts to get a look at him. The prisoner's eyelids rose and fell tremulously and then he fixed his gaze on the floor in front of him.
At this point Judge Titus came over to the prisoner and bade him
good-bye. Czolgosz replied very faintly, letting his eye rest upon the man who had been his counsel.
"Good-bye,” he said, weakly.
The convicted murderer looked fixedly, unflinchingly upon the judge as he pronounced sentence in the following words:
"In taking the life of our beloved President you committed a crime which shocked and outraged the moral sense of the civilized world. You have confessed that guilt, and after learning all that at this time can be learned from the facts and circumstances of the case twelve good jurors have pronounced you guilty of murder in the first degree.
“You have said, according to the testimony of creditable witnesses and yourself, that no other person aided or abetted you in the commission of this terrible act. God grant it may be so. The penalty for the crime for which you stand convicted is fixed by this statute and it now becomes my duty to pronounce this judgment against you.
"The sentence of the court is that in the week beginning October 28, 1901, at the place, in the manner and means prescribed by law, you suffer the punishment of death.”
At ten o'clock on the night when sentence was passed, Sheriff Caldwell and sixteen men left Buffalo to convey the condemned man to the prison at Auburn, where it was to be carried into effect. Arriving at Auburn, about three o'clock the following morning, Czolgosz encountered an angry throng of some 300 persons and almost totally collapsed, being stricken with the most abject fear.
During his progress from the train to the prison gate, between two deputies to whom he was handcuffed, he was mauled by the crowd. So unexpected was the onslaught of the crowd that the police and deputies had scarcely time to draw their revolvers and clubs. The advance guard made a dash for the crowd. A dozen prison keepers threw ajar the gates. Then came a short, sharp conflict.
One burly fist reached his head and brought instant collapse. His guards had to drag him up the stairs to the prison office. Here he tumbled to his knees in abject terror, frothing at the mouth and uttering the most terrifying cries. He stumbled to a cane seat and lay there moaning in terror, while the crowd hung on to the iron gates and yelled, “Give him to us! Let us in at the murderer !".
But scant ceremony was accorded him. The handcuffs were taken off. He was dragged through the heavy oaken, iron-barred door to the warden's office. As a matter of fact he was carried, with his feet dangling behind him on the ground. Four husky keepers held his shoulders and arms.
They dumped him into a chair, a limp, disheveled figure, his cries echoing down the long corridors and arousing all the other convicts. He was in a state of absolute collapse, and when left alone rolled over to the floor, where he lay stretched at full length, his eyes rolling in a frenzy and his frothing lips twitching convulsively. Two keepers seized him and commanded him to stand up. His knees shook and he fell to the floor.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!” he shrieked again as the howls from the crowd without came through the windows.
"Shut up! You're faking !” said Dr. Gern, the prison physician. The assassin obeyed the command except that he moaned dismally in a quieter tone and continued to writhe in agony. Two keepers stripped him of his clothing and placed on him a prison suit of clothing. He was not then bathed, nor was his pedigree taken. These formalities were complied with the following morning.
“Such was the end, so far as the outer world is concerned, of the man who deliberately took the life of gentle, genial, generous William McKinley, the most highly appreciated and universally beloved President that living Americans have ever seen. Potent enough to nerve his hand to the commission of a diabolical and most illogical crime, the teachings of anarchy utterly failed to support him as he approached that closing scene when human nature so sadly needs help.