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Garfield to Huss
Garfield, James A.  (1831-1881)

"Swain, can't you stop this (pain)?  Swain!"

James Garfield was the twentieth president of the United States.  He was shot by a disgruntled office seeker, Charles Guiteau, and lingered for weeks before dying when doctors could not find the bullet.

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Garrett, Johnny Frank (?-1991)

"I'd like to thank my family for loving me and taking care of me.  And the rest of the world can kiss my ass."

Garrett brutally murdered a Catholic nun in 1981.  Caught, tried, and convicted, Garrett was finally executed in 1991 after exhausting his legal appeals process.

Genghis, Khan of the Mongols (1155?-1227)

"Let not my end disarm you, and on no account weep or keen for me, let the enemy be warned of my death"

Genghis Khan was the founder of the largest continuous land empire to ever be established, ranging from the Near East to the Yellow Sea.  In 1226, at a relatively advance age, he lead his army on a campaign to punish the Tanguts for their refusal to provide him with auxiliary troops during a previous campaign.  He fell ill as his forces approached the Tangut capital of Ningxia, perhaps--although accounts disagree--from infections of wounds inflicted on his genitals by a captured woman he had ravished.  At any event, when it became clear that he was dying, he summoned his generals and sons to his bedside. 

His sons arrived first and found their father deliriously raving that "My descendants will wear gold, they will eat the choicest meats, they will ride the finest horses, they will hold in their arms the most beautiful women, and they will forget to whom they owe it all."  Eventually, he regained his composure and told his sons "It is clear to me that I must leave everything and go hence from thee."  He then turned to his generals and began to give final guidance for the battle against the Tanguts.  Before he concluded his speech, the instructed them "the words of the lad Kublai are well worth attention; see, all of you, that you heed what he says!  One day he will sit in my seat and bring you good fortune such as you have had in my day."  Following the khan's death, the Mongol army defeated the Tanguts, sacked Ningxia, and massacred all of its inhabitants.

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George V, King of Great Britain and Ireland (1865-1936)

"Bugger Bognor."

George V was King of Great Britain and Ireland during World War I.  Just before his death, his doctor assured him that he would soon recover and be able to holiday at his favorite seaside resort, Bognor Regis. 

It can't be claimed for certain that  "Bugger Bognor" were the king's last words.  Some have said his last words were, "Gentlemen, I am sorry for keeping you waiting like this.  I am unable to concentrate," and The Times reported they were an even more regal, "How is the Empire?".  Recently, the diary of the attending physician was published; it states that after being given a shot of morphine, the king's last words were "God damn you," .

Gilbert, Sir Humphrey (1539?-1583)

"We are as near to heaven by sea as by land."

Gilbert Humphrey was an English soldier, navigator, and explorer.  The half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, he is best remembered for landing in Newfoundland in 1583 and claiming it for England.  On the return trip, he refused to abandon his frigate, the Squirrel, which was overloaded and in danger of sinking.  An accompanying vessel, the Golden Hind, came within shouting distance of the Squirrel, and its captain yelled for Sir Gilbert to transfer ships.  Sir Gilbert, who was sitting near the stern reading a book responded, "We are as near to heaven by sea as by land."  Those are his last recorded words.

Gipp, George (1895-1920)

"Win one for the Gipper!"

George Gipp was a U.S. football player who led the University of Notre Dame to unbeaten seasons in 1919 and 1920.  In December, 1920, he contracted pneumonia after a serious throat infection and died at the height of his college football fame.  On his deathbed, he told his coach, Knute Rockne, that "Some day, when things look real tough for Notre Dame, ask the boys to go out there and win one for the Gipper."  Eight years later at the end of a terrible season, Notre Dame was about to play the Army team.  Trailing at half-time, Rockne gathered the players and for the first time ever related Gipp's last words in an attempt to inspire the team, "I've never used Gipp's request until now.  This is that game.  It's up to you."  The team went on to beat Army by the score of 12 to 6.

President Ronald Reagan had been a radio sports broadcaster long before he became a movie actor.  The Gipp story had always fascinated Reagan, and when he heard that Warner Brothers was planning a film on the life of Knute Rockne, he lobbied hard to play the part.  Reagan did, of course, win the role and uttered the famous words that are part of movie history.  Many, including President Reagan, have suggested that Rockne invented the story as it was not unusual for the coach to fabricate dramatic tales to rally his players.

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Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832)

"Open the second shutter so that more light may come in."

Goethe, a German writer, biologist, and scholar, was a literary leader of the German Sturm and Drang period.  Although he produced a large number of novels, poems, and plays, his fame rests primarily on the poetic drama, Faust.  His last words were recorded by a disciple, Johann Peter Eckermann, who was present at Goethe's death.  Often Goethe's last words are quoted as a spiritualized request--"More Light!"--for understanding.  Some have suggested that Goethe's actual last words were addressed to his daughter-in-law, "Come, my little daughter, and give me you little paw."

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Gordon, George, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

"Good night."

Lord Byron was one of the most widely read and notorious poets of his era, and many believe that some of his works, especially Don Juan, are autobiographical.  He was forced to flee England in 1816 to escape his debts and a nasty sex scandal involving his wife's sister.  He traveled throughout Europe until he joined the Greek war for independence in 1823.  That winter, he became quite ill, perhaps partly due to malnutrition as he had taken to eating almost nothing but meager portions of rice.  He had not yet fully recovered when he was caught in a driving, frigid rainstorm.  He returned to his room chilled, shivering, and with a high fever.  Friends called in physicians and surgeons who bled him with twelve leeches they attached to his temples and induced violent diarrhea with a large dose of castor oil.  All concerned were surprised to find this treatment did not work, and Lord Byron lapsed into a deep stupor.  He eventually regained consciousness long enough to say "Now I shall go to sleep.  Good night."  He died within twenty-four hours. 

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Gregory, VII, Pope (1020?-1085)

"I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile."

Gregory is remembered as one of the great medieval reform popes.  Unconcerned about politics, Gregory attacked the practice of investiture or the right of lay kings to grant church officials the symbols of their authority.  This brought him into direct conflict with the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV.   Henry attempted to subvert the pope and, unsuccessfully, attempted to have him kidnapped while conducting Christmas Mass.  Henry continued to attack the pope in letters and speeches, and Gregory finally excommunicated him.  In response, Henry launched his forces against the pope and besieged Rome from 1081-1083, finally conquering the city in 1084.  Gregory fled to the castle of St. Angelo for safety, and Henry oversaw the crowning of one of his men, Guilbert of Ravena as Pope Clement III.  Gregory's ally Robert Guiscard soon rescued the pope from St. Angelo, but much of Rome was destroyed in the process. The destruction infuriated the populace, and Gregory was force to flee Rome and take refuge in Salerno, where he died the following year.

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Green, Joseph Henry (1791-1863)

"Congestion.  Stopped."

Joseph Henry Green was a distinguished 19th century British surgeon.  On his deathbed he is said to have remarked, "Congestion," after taking an especially raspy breath.  He then checked his own pulse, announced "Stopped," and died.

Guevara, Ernesto "Che" (1928-1967)

"I know you have come to kill me.  Shoot, coward. You are only going to kill a man."

Che Guevara was an Argentinian revolutionary who became a prominent communist player in the Cuban Revolution.  Later, he attempted to foment similar revolutions throughout Central and South America with little success.  In 1966, he snuck into Boliva and formed a guerilla force in Santa Clara where he was soon was wounded, captured, and executed by the Bolivian Army.

Swooningly sympathic biographies from leftists abound. 

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Guiteau, Charles (1841-1882)

"Glory hallelujah!  I am with the Lord, Glory, ready, go!"

Attorney Charles Guiteau's repeated offers to help James A. Garfield's presidential campaign were all rejected as were his repeated requests to be appointed to a federal job once Garfield was elected.  Embittered, the demented evangelist shot the president in July, 1881, at the Washington, DC, train station.  Garfield lingered, mortally wounded, in the White House for weeks as surgeons could not locate the bullet.  Alexander Graham Bell even tried, unsuccessfully, to find the bullet with an electromagnetic device he had recently designed.  Garfield was finally taken to the New Jersey seaside where, after at first seeming to recover, he died in mid-September.  On the day after Garfield's death, Guiteau sent a letter of congratulations to the new President, Chester A. Arthur, recommending a series of secretarial appointments.  Guiteau was hanged on 30 June 1882.

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Gwenn, Edmund (1875-1959)

"Dying is easy.  Comedy is difficult."

Edmund Gwenn was an English stage actor, originally discovered by George Bernard Shaw, who became a Hollywood star in his middle age.  Twice nominated for an Academy Award, he won an Oscar as the Best Supporting Actor in Miracle on 34th Street in his most remembered role as Santa Claus.  Gwenn continued acting well until his eighties.

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Hale, Nathan (1755-1776)

"I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Nathan Hale was a U.S. revolutionary.  In September, 1776, Hale volunteered to spy on the British in New York City.  He was betrayed and arrested while disguised as a Dutch school teacher.  After a quick trial, Hale was hanged the next day. 

Some maintain that Hale's last words were "It is the duty of every good officer to obey any orders given him by his commander-in-chief."

Haller, Albrecht von (1708-1777)

"My friend, the artery ceases to beat."

Albrecht von Haller was a Swiss physician, scientist, and poet.  He was instrumental in the founding of the University of Gottengin where he served as the chairman of botany, surgery, and anatomy.

Haller's last words have also been recorded as "It's beating--beating--beating--it's stopped."

Halliburton, Richard (1900-1939)

"Southerly gales, squalls, lee rail under water, wet bunks, hard tack, bully beef, wish you were here--instead of me!"

Richard Halliburton was a "swashbuckling" global traveler and best-selling adventure writer during the 1920s and 1930s.  In 1939, Halliburton and a crew attempted to sail a Chinese junk, the Sea Dragon, from Hong Kong to San Francisco as a publicity stunt.  The vessel was unseaworthy and went down in storm, apparently shortly after Halliburton sent his last signal..  No one survived.

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Hamilton, Alexander (1757-1804)

"This is a mortal wound, doctor."

Alexander Hamilton was one of the American founding fathers, and as the first Secretary of the Treasury he laid the economic foundation of the new nation.  He was also thought to be arrogant and rude by many of his contemporaries.  His writings often angered others.  On evening, at a dinner party, he repeatedly insulted Aaron Burr, the current Vice President, a candidate for Governor of New York, and a long-time political enemy.  Someone from the party relayed his remarks to the press, and they soon appeared in print.  Burr lost the election, blamed Hamilton, and challenged him to a duel.  The men met at Weehauken, New Jersey, at 7:00 am.  Burr fired first and his bullet shattered one of Hamilton's ribs, pierced his liver, and came to rest in a vertebrae.  Hamilton fell to the ground as the surgeon approached.

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Hari, Mata (Margaretha Geertruida Zelle) (1876-1917)

"It is unbelievable."

Mata Hari was the wife of a Dutch military officer who, in 1904, left her husband, changed her name, and moved to Paris.  There she achieved international fame as an exotic "Indian" dancer because, as she admitted, "I could never dance well.  People came to see me because I was the first who dared to show myself naked to the public."  When World War I began, Mata Hari immediately came under suspicion as she had many German admirers who lavished furs and jewelry upon her.  He was finally arrested in February, 1917, after the French determined her principal contact was the German chief of intelligence in Spain.  At her trial, Mata Hari claimed she was really attempting to spy for France although no one in the government had ever asked for her assistance.  After exhausting multiple appeals, she put on a gray dress and straw hat and faced the firing squad at 5:00 am on 15 October.  When asked if she had any last words, she responded, "It is unbelievable."  She then refused to be tied or blindfolded.  As the commands were given, Mata Hari smiled and winked at the firing squad.  Her body was then taken to a Paris hospital to be dissected for medical research. 

Before facing the firing squad, Mata Hari, alledgedly told a nun who comforted her, "Death is nothing, nor life either, for that matter.  To die, to sleep, to pass into nothingness, what does it matter?  Everything is an illusion."

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Hegel, Georg Wilhelm (1770-1831)

"Only one man ever understood me.  And he really didn't understand me."

Hegel was a German philosopher whose works, which had a major influence upon Marxism, are notorious for their obscurity.

Heine, Heinrich (1797-1856) 

"Write . . . write . . . pencil . . . paper."

Heinrich Heine was a German poet who spent the final years of his life in Paris where he was a key figure in radical political journalism.  By 1845, he had contracted a spinal disease that confined him to bed until his death.  He faced death calmly, and shortly before he died he told his visitors that "God will forgive me.  It's his profession."  It appears, however that Heine died wanting to leave an additional message.

Henry, O. (William Sidney Porter) (1862-1910)

"Don't turn down the light.  I'm afraid to go home in the dark."

O. Henry was the pen name of William Sidney Porter, an American writer famous for his short stories, especially the Christmas favorite, "The Gift of the Magi."  His last words were part of a song that was popular at the time of his death.

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Hill, Joe (alias Joe Hillstrom, Joel Haaglund) (1879-1915)

"Don't mourn for me.  Organize!"

Joe Hill , a Swedish immigrant to the United States, was an itinerant laborer, hobo, and songwriter who joined the International Workers of the World (the Wobblies) around 1910.  Some of his organizing songs, including Casey Jones, became world famous.  In 1914, he murdered a Salt Lake City store owner, was convicted, and sentenced to death.  Although just a common thug, he became an cause celebre among communists, socialists, and international unions, but that didn't stop the State of Utah from executing him.  His last words became a rallying cry for radical labor.

As with most leftist "martyrs," the market is flooded with heroic, revisionist biographies.  In the case of Joe Hill, at least one more impartial assessment is in print, although it is routinely trashed by radical reviewers.

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Hilton, Conrad N. (1887-1979)

"Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub."

Conrad Hilton was born in San Antonio, New Mexico, and began his career by renting out rooms in his adobe home.  He took a job as a local bank cashier and was so successful that he soon purchased a bank of his own.  He assumed control of a small hotel in Cisco, Texas in 1919 and over the next sixty years built an international hospitality empire.  On his deathbed just before he died, Hilton was asked if he had any last words of wisdom for the world. 

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Holliday, John Henry (Doc)  (1851-1887)

"This is funny."

Doc Holliday was a famous U.S. gunfighter who is best known for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his brothers.  Holliday, a former dentist, suffered from tuberculosis.  On 8 November 1887, he awoke clear-eyed after 57 days of delirium.  He asked for a glass of whisky, drank it down, and spoke his last words.  After over 15 years of gunfighting, Doc Holliday died in bed. 

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Holmes, John (1812-1899)

"John Rogers did."

John Holmes was a U.S. lawyer and the brother of Oliver Wendell Holmes.  After he had lain absolutely quiet and motionless on his deathbed for an extraordinarily long period of time, those assembled in the room suspected that he had died.  A nurse checked his pulse, found none, and announced that she would feel his feet to see if they were warm, "If they are, he's alive.  Nobody ever died with warm feet."  "John Rogers did," came Holmes's reply.  John Rogers was a Protestant martyr who had been burned at the stake.

Hubbock, Chris (?-?)

"And now, in keeping with Channel 40's policy of always bringing you the latest in blood and guts, in living color, you're about to see another first--an attempted suicide."

Chris Hubbock was an American newscaster who killed herself during a live broadcast in Sarasota, Florida in the early 1970's. 

Huss, John (1372-1415)

"O, holy simplicity!"

John Huss was a Czech priest who became the leader of a reform religious movement.  With his attacks on the church's wealth and corruption, he antagonized the archbishop and clergy of Prague.  He was forbidden to preach and finally excommunicated.  He was tricked by the Holy Roman Emperor, Sigismund, into attending a reform council.  There, he was arrested, condemned as a heretic, and burned at the stake.