Everyone hopes to leave a legacy. To be remembered after our passing is the closest thing humans have to immortality, at least until cryogenics figures out how to reanimate Walt Disney's head.
Some people try to pull off immortality with a lifetime of achievements and noble acts. But why piss away all that energy on altruism when you can simply spout one badass quote before you take the dirt nap and live on through eternity known as a guy who needed a second casket for his balls?
Last Words Of: Carl Panzram, Serial Killer
You may know the term "Hoosier" (meaning people from Indiana) from that Gene Hackman movie about the basketball team. Apparently people from there are really good at teamwork and jump shots, and really bad at executing people quickly.
Now, far be it from us to glorify the defiance of a convicted serial killer, but Carl Panzram did make an interesting point about the mire of bureaucracy versus individual enterprise. If the guy you're executing thinks you're taking too long, you need to rethink the process. Or perhaps Carl was just angry as fuck and wanted to shout something before he was hanged.
Last Words Of: Chief Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull is of course best known for leading the Sioux tribe in their righteous whooping of General Custer's troops at the Battle of Little Bighorn. In the years since he became a performer in Wild West shows and a civil rights figurehead for the Native Americans and, we suppose, quietly wept over people thoughtlessly littering.
In 1890 the US Department of Extracting Blood From a Stone sent officials after Sitting Bull, out of fear he was going to stir up resistance among the Sioux in the area. Faced with 43 members of the Indian Affairs police, Sitting Bull refused to leave with them. He issued the above statement and somebody started shooting and things went downhill from there.
Chief Sitting Bull deserves double credit in this entry because he was also responsible for Custer's reputedly hilarious last words of "Hurrah, Boys! Let's get these last few reds then head on back to camp. Hurrah!" Seriously.
Last Words Of: George Engel, union activist and founder of the Socialistic Labor Party of North America
The 1880s didn't exactly embrace labor unions and based on some shaky evidence, George Engel was convicted for his role in a labor riot (resulting in the death of multiple policemen) and sentenced to be hanged.
Upon hearing that letters were sent to the Illinois governor requesting clemency on his behalf, he wrote his own letter asserting those wishes be ignored. It seemed a bit extreme, but when you have something this awesome to shout from the gallows you'd be loathe to dismiss it too.
Last Words Of: Giles Corey, farmer and accused witch, while being crushed with stones
According to colonial law, a person who refused to plead innocent or guilty of a crime could not be tried. This was particularly vexing to the courts when they had people accused of witchcraft, since they weren't going to torch themselves.
Their remedy for this was "peine forte et dure", the process where the accused was slowly compacted by rocks until a plea was entered. "Tough love" was pretty new back then and clearly had some refining left. Giles Corey, knowing he wouldn't be afforded a fair trial, challenged every plea request with the above "More weight," as in, "add more stones." He did this literally down to his last breath.
No matter how enormous the rocks they stacked on Giles, it's evident he was carrying the largest stones in the room before he even walked in.
Last Words Of: James French, convicted murderer
James French was already serving a life sentence in an Ohio prison in 1966 when he began to realize that life is a really long fucking time. Unwilling to complete his sentence and reportedly scared of suicide, he did the only logical thing: kill his cell mate in an effort to convince the state to execute him.
We're cool with someone wanting to be in control of their destiny, but did you have to be such a dick about it, James? Wouldn't a pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top-execute-me have sufficed? This was 1966 in Ohio, so all he really would have had to do is tell a guard "You know what I like? Black-white integration and homosexuality--lots of homosexuality!" and his fate would have been sealed well enough.
Regardless, these were his final words as being strapped into the electric chair. Puns aren't usually our thing, but pun + capital punishment = funny.
Last Words Of: Che Guevara, revolutionary
While the adult male body is composed of about 50 percent water, Che replaced nearly all of that with equal parts "myth" and "legend." History has rewarded him by allowing his head to wind up on millions of t-shirts worn by college-age malcontents.
There is ample debate as to whether these were his true final words. Luckily we here at Cracked have many internet-renowned historians who have scoured both articles on Wikipedia in working to confirm it.#5
Last Words Of: Robert Erskine Childers, Irish nationalist
Childers, an Irish nationalist whose opposition to elements of a British treaty put him on the wrong side of the Free State, was sentenced to be executed. Childers took the opportunity to shake the hand of every man in the firing squad, offering the advisory as an oddly humorous pro-tip.
Either that or word had gotten around about what shitty marksmen they were and he wasn't up for waiting two minutes for the reload volley.
Last Words Of: Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum, convicted murderer
Tom Ketchum was a thief, a murderer and worst of all a "morning person." It's why he had such tremendous verve despite his hanging being so early in the day. No executioner should be subjected to racket like this before their coffee has kicked in.
It's probably why Ketchum was "accidentally" afforded some additional slack in the line which caused him to be decapitated when he dropped through the gallows. Ooopsie.
Last Words Of: Voltaire, philosopher
This one requires a little context. Voltaire was a famous essayist, deist and apparently smartass.
So who is the "enemy" he's talking about in the above quote? It was his response to a priest at the side of his deathbed, asking Voltaire to use the precious few moments left to renounce Satan.
Last Words Of: Tallulah Bankhead, actress
Bankhead was an iconic (but alleged) lesbian, and celebrator of the good (read: chemically altered) life. She also had a knack for being terribly quotable (she once said she only threw two tantrums in a year, each being six months long).
To explain the relevance of her last words, one must only look to her earlier quote "Cocaine isn't habit forming. I should know--I've been using it for years". We're kind of in love with her.
Last Words Of: Kit Carson, pioneer
Once in a blue moon, God reaches down from his lofty perch, points at an infant boy and proclaims, "This one shall have balls carved out of fucking granite." Kit Carson was one such man.
From fur trapper, to wilderness guide, to frontier warrior, Kit Carson was so much man that he actually defecated Chuck Norris. In the end, all he needed to feel complete was one more hot, brown meal so he could crack an amusing fart while arm wrestling with God.
Ian ritually craps out quotes that all of us would be lucky to utter on our deathbeds at InternetSensation.com.
For more on the subjects of death and badassery, read up on The 5 Historical Figures Who Died the Strangest Deaths and The 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled In the Name of Science. Also see this video on why some subjects like this shouldn't be brought up during dates.
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History is full of horribly depressing moments.
Behind every great man is a great mind they ripped off.