I just finished reading an account of the assassination of William McKinley. His killer, Leon Czolgosz, was convicted and executed in the electric chair. After which, his body was placed in a coffin, which was then filled with sulfuric acid. At the time, they estimated his body would turn to mush in a matter of 12 hours.
Uh, did the government make a habit of dunking bodies in acid back then? And why? For the sake of humiliation?
Leon Czolgosz was executed in Auburn Prison on Oct. 29, 1901, just six weeks after he assassinated President William McKinley in Buffalo. Czolgosz was a mentally unstable anarchist who had convinced himself that his failure to succeed in America after immigrating from Poland was the result of a government conspiracy.
The assassination took place at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo. Witnesses said Czolgosz hid his pistol in a bandaged hand, but he swore there had been no bandage. McKinley survived the shooting for a week, but finally died of his injuries.
Museums offered as much as $5,000 for Czolgosz’s body or his clothing. For this reason, prison officials took the unusual step of dissolving his body and earthly effects in sulphuric acid after his execution. While he was being strapped into the chair, Czolgosz said “I killed the president because he was an enemy of the good people, of the working people. I am not sorry for my crime.”
Czolgosz’s execution became the subject of one of Edison’s earliest motion pictures, “The Execution of Czolgosz,” using actors to play the parts of the murderer and prison officials.