Before sharing Joe Hill's story, it is important to note that he didn't die in an actual fire. We'd save that sort of example for the article "Last Words of People Who Succinctly Summarized the Circumstances of Their Impending Death."
Hill was an immigrant laborer in the early 1900s. This time period was not particularly kind to itinerant workers in America, and Hill frequently faced underemployment, harsh working conditions and lopsided contracts with his employers.
Unsurprisingly, he embraced the working class's frustrations and became a fervent member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union. He inspired the group through scathing political cartoons and pro-union anthems such as "There Is Power in a Union" and "Casey Jones -- the Union Scab." His less-celebrated hit "U n Me, Gurl (Dat's a Union)" is seldom mentioned.
Dwarfs and flags, that's how the 99 percent should operate from now on.
It has been speculated that his prominent involvement in the IWW led to him being railroaded into a murder charge by The Man. Hill came under suspicion when he was treated for a bullet wound mere minutes after masked men started a gunfight in a local butcher shop, killing both the owner and his son. Hill had no motive, no other corroborating evidence put him there and he was actually one of five men treated for bullet wounds on the night of the murders. Still, a jury of his peers saw it otherwise:
Pictured: A jury of Hill's peers.
Hill was sentenced to death by firing squad. His last word, "FIRE!" preempted the executioner's "Ready ... aim ..." countdown. He wanted to his last act to remind the squad who they really worked for: the people.
Or Hill's own giant balls. We're not sure which he meant, really.
Quote: "If any of you have a message to give the devil, give it to me quick -- I'm about to meet him!"
On February 18, 1820, Lavinia Fisher and her husband/accomplice John were executed for their roles in a series of murders that took place at their tavern. While her husband was busy begging the crowd for forgiveness and putting all the blame on his wife, Lavinia took a slightly different tack: She figured she'd need to stay busy in hell, and so she spent her last words applying to be the devil's postman.
Lavinia then trumped her executioners by jumping off the scaffolding and hanging herself before they could do it (and probably screw it up. If we've learned one thing from the other entries here, it's that executions are like handjobs; if you want it done right, you do it yourself).
"The hiiiilllls are aliiiiive with the sound of muuu -- gakkk."
Witnesses stated that they would never forget the baleful glare or cruel sneer that froze on Lavinia's face in death. Nor presumably the double birds she was flipping behind her back.
Quote: "Shoot straight, you bastards!"
Harry "Breaker" Morant was an Australian soldier serving Britain during the Second Boer War in South Africa. He is best known in America for being featured in an eponymous Academy Award-nominated movie back in 1980 ... which is to say, he's not really known at all.
Pictured: Either E.T. or Working Girl.
Morant was nicknamed "Breaker" because of his much-touted ability to break horses, though his less thoroughly documented B-Boy skillz may have been another contributor. Historical accounts vary widely as to how many of his controversial military decisions were driven by standing policies versus the fog of war. But one thing is for sure: Morant was either justified in the execution of two unarmed African prisoners and a German missionary, or he wasn't.
We here at Cracked will stand by that statement adamantly.
Morant was arrested for the aforementioned crimes and sentenced to death. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, Breaker deserves some respect for having possibly the best first name ever, and also for simultaneously chastising and motivating his executioners with his last words, just before his death by firing squad: "Shoot straight, you bastards! Don't make a mess of it!"
Stand up job, guys.
It was exactly the kind of frank leadership a good military values ... when they're not executing those leaders for war crimes, of course.
Quote: "Go away! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!"
For better or worse, everybody has to acknowledge that Marx's writings in the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital are possibly the most important political documents of the 19th century. His words were important; that much is fact.
And he looked like a homeless lycanthrope. That part is also indisputable.
Man, Santa would suck if he was a communist.
In 1883, Marx was about to breathe his last, and the only person on hand was his housekeeper. Now housemaids, as we've learned from Joan Crawford, were, up until recently, primarily employed for their ability to harangue and bungle the last moments of the sick and dying. Kind of like a reverse hospice service. And Marx's woman was no exception: Despite having been employed by his family for four decades, she didn't know enough about the man to avoid asking for his profound and meaningful last thoughts. When he roared his (ironically very quotable) last words, she skittered from the room to let the man die in surly silence.
"You want this beatdown, you sons of bitches? Line up, and every worker will get his share."
Marx was survived by his wife, three children and epic hobo wolfman beard, which could only be killed by a silver razor. Some say, on quiet nights, it can still be heard howling for change in the streets.
And to learn how to craft your badass last words in a different language, check out The 10 Coolest Foreign Words The English Language Needs. Or check out what you have to live (die?) up to in The 11 Most Badass Last Words Ever Uttered.
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