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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Presidents' famous last words

Jan 27, 2023 10:16AM ● By James E. Patterson

As we celebrate Presidents’ Day, it is a good time to consider some of their famous last words. 

Many remained philosophical and elegant in their last moments. While historians agree on the last words of some presidents, they strongly disagree on others. Thus, their last words may have changed since you learned them in school. I consulted and other reliable websites for the famous last presidential words below.

The last words of George Washington, who lived to be 68, were uttered at Mount Vernon. “It is well,” said the president as he closed his eyes on December 14, 1799.

John Adams, who lived to be 91, died at Quincy, Massachusetts. On July 4, 1826, Adams, our nation’s second president, whispered his last words: “Thomas Jefferson still survives.” Little did he know, Jefferson had died two hours earlier.

Jefferson, the third president of the U.S., died at Monticello, Virginia, on July 4, 1826. On his deathbed, Jefferson’s last words were, “This is the Fourth of July.” Some historians assigned even loftier words to Jefferson, including: “I resign my spirit to God, my daughter to my country.”

Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th president, lived to be 63. His last word, uttered at Mount McGregor, New York, was “Water.” Grant died of throat cancer.

Benjamin Harrison, our 23rd president, died on March 13, 1901, in Indianapolis, Indiana. His last words were, “Are the doctors here? Doctor, my lungs.” Harrison died at age 67 of pneumonia.

Franklin D. Roosevelt served as our 32nd president. He was the only president elected for four terms. In 1945, Roosevelt died in office at age 63. His last words, uttered at The Little White House in Pine Mountain, Georgia, were: “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.”

The last words of John Quincy Adams, sixth president and eighth secretary of state, died in Washington at age 81. His last words: “This is the last of earth, but I am composed.”

The last words of Andrew Jackson, seventh president, who died June 18, 1845 at age 78, were uttered at the Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee. “I hope to meet you all in heaven. Be good children, all of you, and strive to be ready when the change comes.” Historians long believed Jackson died of heart failure. In 1999, scientists determined he died of lead poisoning, likely from bullets lodged in his body from duels.

The last words of President James K. Polk, 11th president, uttered on June 15, 1849, in Nashville, were to his wife. “I love you, Sarah, for all eternity, I love you.”

President Millard Fillmore, our 13th president, died March 8, 1874, age 74, in Buffalo, New York. As he was being fed soup in bed, Fillmore said: “The nourishment is palatable.”

James Buchanan, 15th president, died in Wheatland, Pennsylvania, on June 1, 1868, at age 77. His final words were, “O Lord Almighty, as Thou wilt.”

The last words of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president, who died at age 61, on January 6, 1919, were: “James, will you please put out the light?” James was his valet. It is believed Roosevelt died of a blood clot to his lungs.

The last words of Woodrow Wilson, 28th president, who lived to be 67 and died in Washington, DC, were to his wife. On February 3, 1924, Wilson said: “Edith, I’m a broken machine, but I’m ready.”

The last words of William McKinley, who died at Buffalo, New York on September 17, 1901, were from the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” 

Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th president, died at Princeton, New Jersey, at 75. On June 24, 1908, Cleveland’s last words: “I have tried so hard to do right.”

Through war, peace and hard economic times, perhaps all presidents “tried so hard to do right.”