Thursday, March 08, 2007

March 8, 1874:

Millard Fillmore Dies

On the anniversary of the death of the 13th president, it's time to consider the recorded last words of some of the presidents (from the handy compendium of such items in the Presidential Factbook by Joseph Nathan Kane). President Fillmore's was the immortal line, "The nourishment is palatable." He seems to have said that to his doctor after taking a bite of food that late winter day in Buffalo over 130 years ago.

Other presidents spoke to their doctors as well. Tyler: "Doctor, I am going. Perhaps it is best." B. Harrison: "Are the doctors here? Doctor, my lungs." Some said fairly ordinary things. Madison: "I always talk better lying down." Harding (to his wife): "That's good. Go on, read some more." FDR: "I have a terrific headache."

Polk said, "I love you, Sarah, for all eternity, I love you." (His wife.) Hayes said, "I know I am going where Lucy is." (His wife.) Eisenhower spoke a little more broadly: "I've always loved my wife. I've always loved my children. I've always loved my grandchildren. And I've always loved my country."

Some spoke of contentment. Washington: "It is well." JQ Adams: "This is the last of earth. I am content." Buchanan: "O Lord, God Almighty, as Thou wilt." McKinley: "It is God's way. His will be done, not ours. We are all going, we are all going, we are all going. Oh, dear."

A couple were a little enigmatic. WH Harrison: "Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of government. I wish the, carried out. I wish nothing more." Van Buren: "There is but one reliance." TR: "Please put out the light."

While presumably all of them were suffering on their deathbeds, there's considerable pain in the lines of some. Wilson: "I'm a broken machine, but I'm ready" Grant (who was dying of throat cancer): "Water."

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