"Hurry up you Hoosier Bastard, I could kill ten men while your foolin around!"
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.
"I am not going. Do with me what you like. I am not going. Take action! Let's go!"
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.
"Hurrah for Anarchy! This the happiest moment of my life."
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.
"I know you've come to kill me. Shoot, you are only going to kill a man."
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.
"Take a step forward lads- it'll be easier that way."
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.
"I'll be in Hell before you start breakfast! Let her rip!"
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.
"Now,now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies."
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".
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