An execution in Illinois.Extraordinary scene — desperation of the Culprit — violent Resistance in his cell and on the gallows.
A man named James White was executed at Salem, III., on Thursday, the 15th ultimo, for the murder of Andrew J. Applegate. The Advocate, giving an account of the preliminary arrangements for the execution, the assembling of a large throng of spectators, &c., says: ‘ Soon after this time, the public were astounded by the report that the convict, White, had possessed himself of a chain, and, armed with it, threatened instant death to any man who should dare to enter his prison. The report was found to be true. There had been a chain strongly fixed in the floor of the prison, to which it had become necessary on some occasions to secure the prisoners; this chain White, with almost superhuman strength, had wrenched from its fastenings. It was a common-sized ox-chair, about three feel in length, and had upon one of its ends an iron ring nearly nine inches in circumference. White had armed himself with this chain, and by running the links through the ring had made a heavy knot of iron, which proved to be indeed a formidable weapon. Standing thus armed inside the door of his call White declared with terrible oaths that no living man should enter. In this dilemma, a pause ensued in the proceedings. Sheriff Black made an attempt to enter, assisted by four resolute and fearless men. Driven to desperation, the hardened criminal struck a tremendous blow, which, happily, was but a slight injury upon the left hand of the sheriff. ’ It was now proposed to inject ammonia into the face of the convict and thus by his temporary suffocation, enable the officer to take possession of his call. This was tried, but failed. The miserable murderer recoiled for an instant under the effect of the liquid, but speedily recovering himself, he stood again at the door armed with his terrible weapon and looking the impersonification of a fiend. It really seemed as though the arcle fiend helped him. It was now resolved to drench the cell with chloroform and thus lull the turbulent spirit within until he could be safely captured. The sheriff was still advised to disable him by a pistol ball, but answered that he would not proceed to such harsh measures until all other less cruel means had failed. One or two bottles of chloroform were procured and the atmosphere of the cell was thoroughly impregnated with its fumes; blankets were suspended outside the grated windows of the cell, and every step taken to make this effort successful. At first, the furious wretch laughed at this attempt. It was clear that his wicked course of life had made him familiar with the use and the effects of chloroform. Indeed, he said so, and told the officers that the article they were using was weak and poor. He evidently was acquainted with chemicals. In order to resist its effects be wound his bed-quilt around his face, beat occasionally to the window for air, and removed a portion of the blanket by reaching out and drawing it through the grating; so as to make an opening for the admission of the wind. More than an hour had been consumed in these fruitless efforts to obtain possession of the prisoner and his weapon, and it began to be apparent that harsher means were necessary. At about twelve o'clock White was heard to say--‘"they have tried hartshorn and chloroform upon me, but one has neutralized the action of the other; they are now going to try something else."’ He evidently saw that he must ultimately submit, and, though at first prepared to sell his life as dearly as possible, his courage and strength now began to fail. He therefore proposed that if the Sheriff would give him his dinner, and a drink of whiskey, and let him live till one o'clock, he would yield his weapon and surrender himself. This proposition was accepted, and White gave up his knotted chain through the grating of the door, a dinner was prepared for him, and a glass of water, with a slight infusion of whiskey, handed him to drink. It was the last office of apparent mercy, and the Sheriff willingly performed it. At one o'clock the sheriff entered the cell. White came forward and surrendered himself. His arms were pinioned behind him, and he walked resolutely down the stairs of the jail, through the hall and into the fearful place prepared for his terrible death. Here brief religious services were held. The services concluded, White, accompanied by the sheriff and his assistants, ascended the steps of the gallows without apparent trepidation. He never faltered a moment, but examined with a critical eye all the appliances prepared for his execution. And now occurred one of the most horrifying and painful scenes in this terrible drama. When once upon the scaffold, and his ankles being bound together, the usual white cap was produced, and he was informed that it was necessary to put it upon his head. To this White objected, insisting that no change should be made in his apparel He wore the little felt cap with which he had covered his head from his first imprisonment. When the sheriff removed the felt cap, and was about substituting the usual white one, the prisoner again objected, and, with fearful imprecations, declared that it should not be put on. Sheriff Black, in a decided tone, endeavored to persuade the prisoner, but in vain. For nearly an hour the officers were engaged in a struggle to enforce compliance. Here, indeed, was the demoniac character of the prisoner displayed. He made every effort to prevent the officers from putting on the white covering. Pinioned and bound as he was, he fought with desperation. He snapped and bit at their fingers, he leaped into the air, he crouched toward the ground, and for some time it seemed doubtful whether he could be compelled to submit. After a severe and protracted struggle the cap was thrown upon his head and securely adjusted about his face and the strings drawn around his neck. Nothing now remained of the direful preparations but to put the rope around his neck and adjust the fatal noose. With some difficulty this was at length accomplished, the united efforts of four men being required for this purpose. As the Sheriff drew the fatal noose closer to its place and placed the knot beneath the ear of the unhappy man, he exclaimed with-fearful imprecations, ‘"What in hell are you choking me now for?--you are choking me, for I can hardly speak."’ These are the last words of the wretched man. The Sheriff gave the signal that all was ready to his deputy, Mr. Schultz; in a moment the trigger was drawn, the drop fell, and that unhappy man, so lately struggling with such desperate fury, so lately busy with his terrible efforts to defeat the vengeance of the law, fell like lead through the draw and hung, slightly oscillating, a struggling, violent human being no longer.