Frequently Asked Dead Presidents Questions
What Were The Dead Presidents' Last Words??
(A work in progress.)
- George Washington
- I am just going. Have me decently buried and do not let my body be
put into the vault in less than three days after I am dead.
[His secretary, Tobias Lear, to whom these words were addressed,
was so affected that he could not speak a reply, but nodded his assent.]
Do you understand?
["Yes," replied Lear.] 'Tis well.
- John Adams
- [Asked by Mrs. Clark if he knew what day it was.]
Oh, yes; it is the glorious Fourth of July. It is a great day.
It is a good day.
God bless it. God bless you all. [He then lapsed into
unconsciousness. He awakened later, and mumbled]
[This is often reported as the beginning
of the sentence "Thomas Jefferson still survives," but
cannot be held reliable.
If this is indeed what John Adams was saying,
he was wrong. He spoke the words at the approximate time of
Jefferson's actual death; Jefferson
preceded Adams in death by a couple of hours.]
- Thomas Jefferson
- Is it the Fourth? [Asked of his doctor, Robley Dunglison, who
replied, "It soon will be."]
I resign my spirit to God, my daughter to my country.
[Like John Adams, Jefferson died on the
fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of
- James Madison
- Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear. I always talk better
lying down. [In response to a
niece, who asked, "What is the matter, Uncle James?"]
- James Monroe
- I regret that I should leave this world without again beholding him.
[referring to James Madison]
- John Quincy Adams
- This is the last of Earth. I am content.
- Andrew Jackson
- I hope to meet you all in Heaven. Be good children, all of you,
and strive to be ready when the change comes.
- Martin Van Buren
- There is but one reliance...
- William Henry Harrison
- Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of government.
I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more. [Spoken in
delerium to Vice President John Tyler.]
- John Tyler
- Doctor, I am going. ["I hope not, sir," said the doctor.]
Perhaps it is best.
- James Polk
- I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.
[He told her what provisions he had made for her, then passed away.]
(spoken to his wife)
- Zachary Taylor
- I am about to die. I expect the summons very soon. I have tried to
discharge all my duties faithfully. I regret
nothing, but I am sorry that I am about to leave my friends.
- Millard Fillmore
- [Accepting a spoonful of soup from his doctor.]
The nourishment is palatable.
- Franklin Pierce
- James Buchanan
- Whatever the result may be, I shall carry to my grave the
consciousness that at least I meant well for my country.
Oh Lord God Almighty, as thou wilt.
- Abraham Lincoln
- It doesn't really matter.
[In response to his wife's admonition not to hold her hand at Ford's
Theater, because people might see them.
Lincoln's final utterance was laughter. During the performance of the
play Our American Cousin, one of the actresses called for a shawl
to protect her from the draft. An actor then ad-libbed a reply, "You are
mistaken, Miss Mary, the draft has been stopped by order of the President."
Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot.]
- Andrew Johnson
- [After falling out of his chair, he spoke his last to
his distraught daughter:]
My right side is paralyzed. [struggling to move]
I need no doctor. I can overcome my troubles.
- Ulysses Grant
- Rutherford Hayes
- I know that I am going where Lucy is. [Lucy was his beloved
- James Garfield
- [To his chief of staff, David G. Swaim] Oh Swaim, there is
a pain here. Swaim, can't you stop this? Oh, oh, Swaim!
- Chester Arthur
- Grover Cleveland
- I have tried so hard to do right.
- Benjamin Harrison
- Are the doctors here? Doctor...my lungs.
- William McKinley
- Good-bye -- good-bye, all. We are all going.
It's God's way. His will be done, not ours.
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.
We are all going, we are all going, we are all
going. Oh, dear.
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Please put out the light.
- William Taft
- Woodrow Wilson
- I am a broken piece of machinery. When the machine is broken...
I am ready. [Spoken to his wife. Some accounts have him adding
his wife's name, "Edith" at the end.]
- Warren Harding
- That's good. Go on. Read some more. [To his wife, who was reading him
flattering newspaper accounts.]
- Calvin Coolidge
- Good morning, Robert. [To a carpenter working on his home.]
- Herbert Hoover
- [When told that Admiral Strauss had come to pay him a visit,
Hoover was already speaking in past tense:] Levi Strauss was
one of my best friends.
- Franklin Roosevelt
- I have a terrific headache. (FDR died of a massive cerebral
David Bornus advises:
According to Conrad Black in his biography "Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
Champion of Freedom," page 1110, FDR was sitting for a portrait when he
put his left hand to the back of his head and said: "I have a terrific
pain in the back of my head." He then was carried to his bed by several
people, as they were doing this "he was understood by Laura Delano to
say, only semiconsciously, 'Be careful.' These were his last words."
- Harry Truman
- Dwight Eisenhower
- I've always loved my wife, my children, and my grandchildren,
and I've always loved my country. I want to go. I'm
ready to go. God, take me.
- John Kennedy
- That's very obvious.
[Spoken in response to Mrs. Connolly's comment, "Mr. President, you can't
say that Dallas doesn't love you."] [Some claims have been made
that President Kennedy exclaimed "My God, I've been hit." but one
of the Secret Servicemen riding in the car when the president was shot
said that Kennedy made no remarks after he was struck.]
- Lyndon Johnson
- Send Mike immediately! [To a Secret Service agent over an in-house
- Richard Nixon
- "Help" [Called out to his housekeeper. A stroke then left him
mute and partially paralyzed. He died the next day.]
- Gerald Ford
- Ronald Reagan
His daughter Patti Davis described his death, and said that his final
communication was love, spoken with his eyes rather than his voice.
"At the last moment, when his breathing told us this was it, he opened
his eyes and looked straight at my mother. Eyes that hadn't opened for
days did, and they weren't chalky or vague. They were clear and blue and
full of love. If a death can be lovely, his was. [My mother then] said to
her husband that the expression was 'the greatest gift you could have