Determining the last words of any person can be difficult. Misquotes, misinterpretations, and surprise deaths can complicate what qualifies as someone's final words. There's also a lack of documentation - writing down someone's last words may not be on the minds of the individuals at the bedside of an ailing loved one, even if the person is a historical ruler.
That includes some American presidents. The last words of Franklin Pierce, Chester A. Arthur, William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford remain lost to history. Ronald Reagan's final words also remain unknown, although his daughter documented the moments before his passing.
The final words of other US presidents have been documented, although sometimes accounts vary of what they said. The final statements attributed to these men have a poignancy, contribute to their legacies and, above all, remind us of how human they truly were.
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James K. Polk passed on June 15, 1849, three months after leaving the office of the presidency - a position that greatly caused his health to decline. Polk and his wife Sarah had relocated to Tennessee.
I love you, Sarah, for all eternity, I love you.
Sarah Polk lived until 1891.
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The last words uttered by George H.W. Bush were to his son, George W. Bush. In a conversation between father and son on November 30, 2018, they exchanged words of affection.
After George W. told the elder Bush he was "a wonderful father," George H.W. replied:
I love you, too.
He passed later that same night.
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Andrew Jackson passed on June 8, 1845, at his home, the Hermitage, in Tennessee. After writing a letter to then-President James K. Polk, Jackson reportedly told the family, friends, and enslaved workers gathered around him:
I hope to meet each of you in heaven... Be good children, all of you, and strive to be ready when the change comes.
The sentiment remains the same in this variant:
Oh, do not cry - be good children and we will all meet in heaven.