The last recorded words of US presidents provide a glimpse into their final moments on earth. Delving into the biography pages of these iconic leaders, we discovered a range of dramatic final utterances that offer insight into their personalities and legacies.
Some chose to impart wisdom, while others expressed gratitude for a life well-lived. Join us as we explore the last words of these notable figures, whose words continue to inspire and intrigue to this day.
George Washington: ‘Tis well’
George Washington died on December 14, 1799, at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. He had been suffering from a severe cold, and despite the best efforts of his doctors, his condition worsened, and he ultimately passed away.
According to the accounts of those present at his deathbed, George Washington’s last words were, “Tis well, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.”
Thomas Jefferson: ‘No, doctor, nothing more’
While his last recorded words were “No, doctor, nothing more,” according to the accounts of the three people present at the time of his death, Jefferson either stated or asked about the date shortly before passing away. The date was July Fourth, which marked the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, a document that Jefferson had played a key role in drafting. It is often recounted that Jefferson’s last words were, “Is it the Fourth? I resign my spirit to God, my daughter, and my country.”
John Adams: ‘Thomas Jefferson survives’
One of the Founding Fathers and the second President of the United States s died on July 4, 1826, at the age of 90 due to heart failure. In his final moments, Adams was reportedly concerned about the well-being of his fellow founding father, Thomas Jefferson, who had passed away only hours before him on the same day. Adams’ last words, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” have become famous for their poignant reminder of the rivalry between these two influential figures in American history.
Zachary Taylor: ‘I regret nothing, but I am sorry to leave my friends.’
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Prior to his presidency, he had a distinguished career as a general in the United States Army, most notably during the Mexican-American War.
On July 4, 1850, Taylor attended a ceremony at the Washington Monument, where he consumed large amounts of raw fruit and iced milk, which was believed to have caused his subsequent illness. He was taken to the White House, where he received medical treatment for several days, but his condition worsened, and he died on July 9, 1850, at the age of 65.
According to some reports, Zachary Taylor’s last words were “I regret nothing, but I am sorry to leave my friends.” However, there is some debate over whether or not these were his actual final words, as there were no official witnesses to the moment of his death. Regardless, these words have come to symbolize Taylor’s dedication to his country and his loved ones, even in the face of death.
James K. Polk: ‘I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.’
James K. Polk died on June 15, 1849, just three months after leaving office. He was 53 years old. The exact nature of his death is still debated, but it is believed that he suffered from cholera or some other gastrointestinal ailment.
According to some reports, Polk’s last words were “I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.” These words were allegedly spoken to his wife, Sarah Childress Polk, who was at his side when he passed away.
James A. Garfield: ‘Swaim, can’t you stop the pain? ‘
James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, was shot by Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881, at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. Garfield was taken to the White House, where he received medical treatment for over two months. Unfortunately, he developed blood poisoning and died on September 19, 1881, at the age of 49.
Reports suggest that Garfield spoke to General David Swaim, one of his close friends, shortly before he passed away, asking him, “Swaim, can’t you stop this pain?”
William McKinley: ‘Goodbye, goodbye all. It’s God’s way. His will be done, not ours.’
William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States, serving from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. On September 6, 1901, McKinley was attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York when he was shot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist.
After being shot twice in the abdomen, McKinley was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Despite the efforts of the doctors, McKinley’s condition continued to deteriorate, and he died eight days later on September 14, 1901, at the age of 58.
McKinley’s last words are not known with certainty, as there were no witnesses who heard him speak them. However, it is widely believed that his last words were “Goodbye, goodbye all. It’s God’s way. His will be done, not ours.”
Teddy Roosevelt: ‘Put out the light’
The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, passed away on January 6, 1919, at the age of 60. He died in his sleep at his home in Oyster Bay, New York, due to a pulmonary embolism.
According to his wife and others in the room, his last words were “Please put out that light, James” to his servant James Amos.
Warren G. Harding: ‘That’s good, go on, read some more.’
Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, died on August 2, 1923, while on a tour of the western United States. He was in San Francisco when he suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 57.
The circumstances surrounding Harding’s death were surrounded by controversy, with rumors of foul play and speculation that he had been poisoned. However, subsequent investigations have found no evidence to support these claims.
As for his last words, there are conflicting reports. According to some accounts, Harding’s final words were “That’s good, go on, read some more,” spoken to his wife Florence when she was reading to him from the newspaper. Others have suggested that he simply said “Goodnight” before passing away.
Franklin D. Roosevelt: ‘I have a terrific headache.’
Franklin D. Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, while serving his fourth term in office. He passed away at the age of 63 while vacationing at his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia.
“I have a terrific headache,” uttered the 32nd President of the United States, and died minutes later after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.