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Caesar to Czolgosz
Caesar, Julius Gaius (100-44 B.C.)

"You too, Brutus?"

Although Marcus Junius Brutus was a trusted young friend of Caesar's, he was also one of the conspirators who murdered him on the Ides of March in 44 B.C.  When Caesar entered the Senate that day, all of the senators stood to show respect.  Some of the conspirators snuck behind Caesar's chair while others moved forward as if to greet him.  As one grabbed Caesar's robe to signal the beginning of the attack, another struck a glancing blow to his neck.  Each of the attackers then bared their knives and closed around Caesar in a tightening circle.  Caesar attempted to fight the assassins until he saw his trusted friend, Brutus, approach dagger in hand.  In surprised resignation Caesar uttered his famous last words, fell to the floor, and pulled his robe up over his face.  Brutus then stabbed Caesar in the groin and all of the attackers joined in.  In the frenzy, Caesar was pushed against a statue of his old enemy, Pompey, which soon became drenched in blood.  All told, the attackers stabbed Caesar twenty-three times.

Most people know that the Latin translation of "You too, Brutus?" is "Et tu, Brute?" and many will recall that in Shakespeare's play, the bard adds a final English sentence to these Latin words,  "Then fall, Caesar!"  However, some have suggested that the famous phrase was probably spoken--if it was spoken at all--in the Greek that was commonly used by Roman officials.  The Greek version of Caesar's last words is "Kai su, teknon?" or "You too, my son?" 

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Calhoun, John C.  (1782-1850)

"The South!  The poor South!  God knows what will become of her."

John C. Calhoun, an American politician, was the strongest proponent of Southern rights during the first half of the 19th Century.  Calhoun secretly authored the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, a document that asserted that any state had the power to nullify any federal law that it deemed unconstitutional.  While serving as Andrew Jackson's Vice-President, Calhoun became extremely frustrated after the President refused to endorse an extreme state rights position.  Calhoun eventually resigned when Jackson discovered that he had attempted to undermine several policy initiatives and played a major role in ostracizing the Secretary of War's wife from Washington society.  Calhoun returned to South Carolina and was elected to the Senate where he served as the most powerful spokesman for slavery until his death in 1850. 

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Carroll, Lewis (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), (1832-1898)

"Take away those pillows.  I shall need them no more"

Dodgson was an English clergyman, mathetician, photographer, and logician, however he is far better known as the author who wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, works with an inordinate amount of fantasy, wordplay, and puzzles.   His friendships with young girls and lack of a wife or any adult romantic interest coupled with photographs of naked or partial nude young girls, have led some scholars to suggest that he was a latent, that is repressed and celibate, paedophile.  Many others, however, suggest that such an assumption is based on a modern failure to understand Victorian morals--specifically the Victorian "Cult of the Child," an unawarness of his active adult social life, and a misinterpretation of what Dodgson meant by his term "child-friends" many of whom were in their late teens and early twenties.  Dodgson died just shy of his sixty-sixth birthday, in bed at his sister's home, from pneumonia he contracted following a bout of influenza.

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Cassanova (de Seingalt), Giacomo (1725-1798)

"I have lived as a philosopher and die as a Christian."

Cassanova was a Venetian clergyman, soldier, musician, and alchemist who was arrested for performing magic in 1750.  After escaping the following year, he began a twenty year circuit of European society where--by his own accord--he infamously seduced a prodigious number of women.  Eventually tiring of his nomadic life, Cassanova settled in Duchov, bohemia, where he served the Count of Waldstein as librarian until his death in 1798.
Cathcart, Sir George (1794-1854)

"I fear we are in a mess."

Lord Raglan's abysmal leadership during the Crimean war is most often remembered for his unnecessary destruction of the Light Brigade.  However, shortly following that debacle, he lost control of his forces during the counter-offensive at Mt. Inkerman as the Russians attempted to lift the siege of Sevastopol, and one of his most able subordinates, Sir George Cathcart, found his command surrounded by the enemy with escape only possible by punching a hole throught the enemy with a direct charge.  Cathcart made his final observation to his staff, just before a bullet struck him in the chest.  Incredibly, the Russian attack proved unsuccessful despite outnumbering the British by five to one, a result attributable only to the leadership and courage of soldiers and junior officers and not the high command.

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Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536)

"Mine eyes desire thee only.  Farewell."

Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella and the wife of Henry VIII.  Although she bore a daughter, the couple could produce no male heir, so Henry asked the Pope for an annulment.  When the Roman Church did not act quickly enough, Henry appointed Thomas Cranmer as the archbishop of Canterbury.  Cranmer's first official act was to grant Henry the divorce he sought.  Catherine was then stripped of her titles and denied the company of her daughter.  Shortly before she died mysteriously in 1536, Catherine wrote Henry a letter that closed "Oculi mei te solum desiderant. Vale."

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Cavell, Edith (1865-1915)

"I expected my sentence and believe it was just.  Standing, as I do, in the view of God and eternity I realize that patriotism is not enough.  I must have no hatred or bitterness to anyone."

Edith Cavell was the Senior Matron of a British Red Cross Hospital stationed in Brussels during the first months of World War One.  After the German Army overran neutral Belgium, Cavell and a team of nurses secretly treated hundreds of Allied soldiers.  When the soldiers were well enough to travel, Cavell provided them with civilian clothes, false identification, money, and an escort to the border.  In August, 1915, she was arrested, court-martialed for spying, and sentenced to death; she was shot by a German firing squad the following October.  An unfounded rumor circulated throughout the Allies nations that Cavell fainted as she faced her executioners.  When the firing squad balked at shooting an unconscious nurse who was lying on the ground, a German officer drew his pistol, placed the barrel against her temple, and killed her with a shot to the head.  Cavell's execution provided Great Britain with and unprecedented propaganda windfall, and army recruiters quickly capitalized upon it.  Enlistments had been flagging in September but soared to record levels in October and November. 

Cavell's last words were said to have been recorded by an English Chaplain who visited with her the night before her death.  He, in turn, passed them on to a reporter who published them in The Times.

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Chaplin, Charles (1889-1977)

"Why not?  After all, it belongs to him."

Charlie Chaplin was a British actor who became a Hollywood star after joining with Max Sennet during a music hall tour of the United States in 1913.  He is usually remembered for his silent picture roles as a little man with a mustache wearing a baggy suit and derby.  Many consider Chaplin to be cinema's greatest comedian.  When the priest, who was attending him on his deathbed, said "May the Lord have mercy on your soul," Chaplin quickly replied, "Why not?  After all, it belongs to him."

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Charles I, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1600-1649)

"Stay for the sign."

Charles I lost his throne as a result of the English Civil War.  In 1640, when he attempted to reform the Church of Scotland, the Covenanters rebelled.  To fund the suppression of the rebellion Charles called the first of two Parliaments, but when he was greeted with a series of grievances instead of money, it was promptly dissolved.  Still needing funds, he called for another.  Although Charles agreed to some of the Parliament's demands, it became clear the body, pushed by Oliver Cromwell, would not be satisfied until England was turned into a constitutional monarchy.  Civil war began on 22 August 1642.  Charles was eventually defeated by the New Model Army, and in 1648 he was tried for treason, convicted, and sentenced to beheading.  As he stood on the scaffold, Charles issued an almost inaudible speech declaring that he had been divinely chosen to govern "A Subject and a Sovereign are clean different things. . . .  If I would have given way to arbitrary way, for to have all Laws chang'd according to the Power of the Sword, I need not to have come here; and therefore I tell you . . . that I am the Martyr of the People."  As he was making his speech, an officer on the scaffold bumped the executioner's blade and the King turned to scold him, "Hurt not the axe that may hurt me."  Charles closed by saying "I die a Christian, according to the Profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my Father." 

Following his speech, Charles spoke with his executioner and agreed upon a sign that would indicate he was ready for the blow.  He then looked up to the sky, raised his hands, and prayed silently.  When he finished, Charles slipped off his cloak, knelt, and placed his neck on the block.  The executioner bent down to clear Charles's long hair from the back of his neck.  This startled the King who quickly spoke, reminding the executioner to wait for the sign.  "I will, an' it please Your Majesty." came the reply.  After a few more moments Charles stretched out his arms in the agreed upon sign.  Immediately, the ax fell.

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Charles II, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1630-1685)

"I have been a most unconscionable time dying, but I beg you to excuse it."

Charles II, son of Charles I, is remembered as one of England's most clever kings.  After the death of his father, Charles I attempted a series of alliances with Scotland, France, and the Dutch in an effort to regain the monarchy.  Although unsuccessful, he was eventually restored to the throne following the death of Oliver Cromwell, whose body he had exhumed, hung, and beheaded.  During his lengthy death, Charles II was attended a retinue of notables.

Some have claimed that Charles's last thoughts were of his mistress, "Let not poor Nelly starve."

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Chavez, Georges (Jorge Chavez Dartnell) (1887-1910)

"Higher. Always higher."

Georges Chavez was a Peruvian aviator who had been born in Paris.  In 1910, airshow promoters in Milan, Italy, offered a prize of about $15,000 to the first flyer to cross the Alps between Brig, Switzerland, and Domdossla, Italy.  Thirteen aviators applied, but the racing committee scratched eight with inferior credentials.  Three of the remaining five dropped out, leaving Chavez and one other flyer.  On 23 September, Chavez attempted the flight.  Strong winds buffeted the plane, and spectators along the route saw Chavez cling desperately to the controls.  The plane made it across the mountains, but as crowds began to cheer the approach, its wings fell off.  An observer reported that it "fell like a stone" from about 50 feet in the sky.  Chavez had broken both legs and suffered massive internal injuries.  He lingered in semi- consciousness for four days occasionally mumbling, "Arriba. Siempre arriba." 
Chekhov, Anton (1860-1904)

"It's been a long time since I've had champagne."

Anton Chekhov was a Russian physician and author.  He began writing short newspaper and magazine stories in 1880.  His most famous short stories include "The Lottery Ticket," and his plays, like The Sea Gull and The Cherry Orchard, are often performed today.  Chekhov died from tuberculosis in 1904.

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Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of (1694-1773)

"Give Dayrolles a chair."

Lord Chesterfield was an English statesmen and writer, who today is chiefly remembered for his witty Letters to His Son, a monograph that described the ideal conduct of of an 18th century gentleman.  The last visitor to Chesterfield's deathbed was his godson, Solomon Dayrolles.  Rousing himself, Chesterfield instructed a servant to "Give Dayrolles a chair."   Chesterfield's politeness had lasted until his end.
Childers, Robert Erskine (1870-1922)

"Take a step forward, lads.  It will be easier that way."

Erskine Childers, a veteran of the Boer War and World War I,  was an author and Irish nationalist. His book, Riddle in the Sand, helped to create the spy novel genre.  He was executed following the establishment of the Irish Free State.  Childers had been fighting with the Republican Forces when he was captured by pro-treaty troops at Annamore.  He was tried before a military court, found guilty of possessing an automatic pistol, and executed by firing squad at Beggars Bush Barracks. 

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Cixi (or Ci Xi or Tz'u-his), Empress Dowager of China (1835-1908)

"Never again allow a woman to hold the supreme power in the State . . . [and] be careful not to allow eunuchs to meddle in government affairs."

Cixi was born into nobility in southern China and originally named "Little Orchid" or Xizo Lan.  After she was selected to be on of Emperor Xianfeng's concubines in 1851, she was renamed Cixi, or Holy Mother.  Cixi concubinal rank rose abruptly after she gave birth to the Xianfeng's first son. In 1861, with the death of Xianfeng, she became the Empress Dowager when her six-year-old son assumed the throne.  She quickly consolidated power and ruled with an iron fist for the next forty-seven years, living a luxuriously decadent life and brutally suppressing dissent and any hint at reform.  Of late, there has been a movement among revisionist historians and novelists to paint a much more benign and sympathetic picture of Cixi, suggesting that she had been intentionally smeared by a clique of westerners led by Edmund Blackhouse, John Bland, and Pearl Buck.

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Cleveland, Steven Grover (1837-1908)

"I have tried so hard to do right."

Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.  Cleveland, a Democrat and political reformer, alienated business, labor, industry, the railroads, Civil War veterans, and many of his initial supporters during his first term and was turned out of office.  Although re-elected four years later, his second term was even more unpopular than the first as the country wallowed in financial quagmire and was beset by major labor unrest.  The Democrats repudiated his leadership while he was still in office, and the party was left in shambles.

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Cobain, Kurt (1967-1994)

"Frances and Courtney, I'll be at your altar 
Please keep going Courtney, 
for Frances. 
for her life will be so much happier 
without me. I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU" (the post script from Kurt Cobain's suicide note)

Kurt Cobain was the mentally unstable, heroin-addicted leader of a grunge rock group, Nirvana.  He shot himself in the head on April 8, 1994.  Some Cobain fans believe that he did not commit suicide, but was actually murdered by a killer hired by his wife, Courtney Love.

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Comte, Auguste (1798-1857)

"What an irreparable loss!"

Auguste Comte was a French philosopher who developed a scientific method for studying social structures that forms the basis of modern sociology.  He also created a philosophy-religion, known as positivism, that worships humanity instead of the supernatural.
Crane, Hart (1899-1932)

"Good-bye, everybody."

Hart Crane was an American poet known for his finely crafted verse.  Despite critical acclaim, he suffered from depression and a profound sense of failure.  While on board a steamship returning from a Guggenheim fellowship in Mexico, Crane bid his fellow passengers farewell  and jumped overboard.

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Cranmer, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury (1489-1556)

"I see Heaven open and Jesus on the right hand of God."

Thomas Cranmer (the author of the original English Book of Common Prayer), Nicholas Ridley (the Bishop of London), and Hugh Latimer (the Bishop of Worcester) were forced to stand trial as Protestant heretics after Queen Mary reestablished the Catholic faith as the official religion of England.  All three were convicted and sentenced to be burned at the stake.  Cranmer's case was appealed to the Pope, and while he awaited a response, Ridley and Latimer were executed.  Cranmer was forced to watch their burning just prior to which which Latimer allegedly announced, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England as I trust shall never be put out." 

While awaiting a decision on his appeal, Cranmer recanted six times, some of them in writing.  It was, of course, to no avail.  On 21 March 1556, Cranmer was taken to St. Mary's in the center of Oxford and, following a sermon, was ordered to publicly recant.  To everyone's surprise, he repudiated his recantations, "And forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished; for if I may come to the fire it shall be first burned."  After he was taken to the stake and the fire started, Cranmer held his right hand directly into the flame and cried out his last words for everyone to hear.

Cranmer's last words at the stake have also been recorded as "This is the hand that wrote it, and therefore shall it suffer first punishment," and "I have sinned, in that I signed with my hand what I did not believe with my heart. When the flames are lit, this hand shall be the first to burn."

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Cromwell, Oliver (1599-1658)

"My design is to make what haste I can to be gone."

Oliver Cromwell ruled England as the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth from 1653 to 1658.  His skill as a military commander was largely responsible for the parliamentarians victory over Charles I during the Civil War.  Although he initially attempted to reconcile differences with the king, Cromwell eventually signed Charles's death warrant and assumed the office of Lord Protector.  His rule was primarily based on the strength of his own personality.  Although Cromwell died peacefully and passed his office to his son, the Commonwealth soon collapsed, and Charles II was restored to the throne.

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Crosby, Harold Lillis "Bing" (1904-1977) 

"It was a great game."

Bing Crosby had just sunk his final put during a game of golf at La Moraleja golf course near Madrid, Spain, when he turned to the spectators and acknowledged their applause by saying, "It was a great game."  As he turned to walk to the clubhouse, he collapsed and was carried inside by his three golfing partners.  There, a physician unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate him.

Bing Crosby's last words have also been recorded as "That was a great game of golf, fellers."

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Crowley, Francis "Two Gun" (1900-1931)

"You sons of bitches.  Give my love to Mother."

Francis Crowley was an American bank robber and murderer.  He was electrocuted in 1931.
Cummings, Edward Estlin (E. E.) (1894-1963)

"I'm going to sharpen the axe before I put it up, dear."

E. E. Cummings, an American poet noted for his clever use of unorthodox puncuation, layout, capitalization, and space, that were as important as the words in understanding and appreaciating his works.  Cummings died from a stroke at age 67 while working on his beloved, Joy Farm, in New Hampshire.  John Cheevers, his good friend and fellow author, remembered, "It was September, hot, and Cummings was cutting kindling in the back of his house in New Hampshire.  He was sixty-six or -seven or something like that.  Marion, his wife, leaned out the window and asked, 'Cummings, isn't it frightfully hot to be chopping wood?'  He said, 'I'm going to stop now, but I'm going to sharpen the ax before I put it up, dear.'  Those were the last words he spoke."

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Cuvier, Leopold Chretien Frederic Dagobert "Georges" (1769-1832)

"Nurse, It was I who discovered leeches have red blood."

Georges Cuvier was the preeminent biologist of his time and is the recognized father of vertebrate paleontology.  Cuvier was a proponent of "catastrophism" as opposed to Darwinian evolution.  He is best remembered for proving that life forms can become extinct, establishing the importance of fossil records, and his contributions to invertebrate zoology.  Cuvier held several important positions throughout the early 19th century including professor of animal anatomy at the French National Museum of Natural History, Inspector General of Public Education, and State Councillor.  While on his death bed, Cuvier allegedly spoke his last words to a nurse who was bleeding him at the time.

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Czolgosz, Leon (1873-1902)

"I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people, the good working people.  I am not sorry for my crime."

Leon Czolgosz was an apparent anarcho-dupe, inspired by "Red Emma" Goldman - the "Queen of the Anarchists", who assassinated President William McKinley in 1901 during a public reception at the Pan-American Exposition's Temple of Music.  He was convicted of murder and executed in 1902.  Thomas Edison produced an early silent movie of Czolgosz's electrocution, some of which was staged in a studio, that infuriated the anarchist community of the time and still riles many leftists in academia today.

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