Famous Last Words: U.S. Presidents

A select collection of the dying words spoken by America's leaders

Mount Rushmore
Photo © Chris Raymond

Whether realized at the time they are said or only in hindsight, nearly everyone will express a word, phrase or sentence that proves the last thing he or she ever says while alive. Sometimes profound, sometimes everyday, here you will find a select collection of the last words spoken by U.S. presidents.

George Washington (1732-1799)
Tis well.

After serving two terms as the nation's first president, the hero of the American Revolution retired to his Virginia plantation in 1797. In mid-December 1799, after enduring harsh winter conditions on horseback while inspecting his property, Washington developed a severe sore throat and breathing difficulties. In an effort to cure him, Washington's doctors might have drained too much of his blood, which mortally weakened the Founding Father.

John Adams (1735-1826)
Thomas Jefferson...

Adams' last words are often cited as "Thomas Jefferson still survives." While both men died July 4, 1826 -- the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence -- Jefferson actually died several hours earlier that day. While Adams would not have known this, there is no conclusive evidence that he actually included the words "still survives" before he expired.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
No, doctor, nothing more.

Jefferson's last words are often cited as "Is it the Fourth?" -- the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While he did earlier ask this on his deathbed, these were not his last words.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848)
This is the last of Earth! I am content!

James Polk (1795-1849)
I love you, Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.

Polk said this to his wife, who was at his side when he died in bed.

Zachary Taylor (1784-1850)
I regret nothing, but I am sorry that I am about to leave my friends.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
She won't think anything about it.

Lincoln spoke these words in answer to wife Mary's question concerning what another woman, seated next to them in Ford's Theatre, would think if she spotted the Lincolns holding hands.

Andrew Johnson (1808-1875)
I need no doctor. I can overcome my own troubles.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885)

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt (1858-1919)
Please put out the light.

Warren G. Harding (1865-1923)
That's good. Go on, read some more.

Harding said this to his wife, Florence, as she read complimentary newspaper pieces about the president in their San Francisco hotel suite during a presidential trip to Alaska and the West Coast.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945)
I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.

"FDR" died of a cerebral hemorrhage (stroke) not long after.

Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969)
I want to go. I'm ready to go. God, take me.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
No, you certainly can't.

Jacqueline Kennedy testified on June 5, 1964, that these were Kennedy's last words -- or "something" to this effect -- in response to the statement by Nellie Connally, the wife of Texas Governor John Connally, who remarked just before an assassin's bullet struck the president: "You certainly can't say that the people of Dallas haven't given you a nice welcome."

Richard Nixon (1913-1994)

While suffering a stroke, Nixon called out to his housekeeper. The president died the next day.

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