Some people try to pull off immortality with a lifetime of achievements and noble acts. But why kick away all that energy on altruism when you can simply spout one stunning quote before you take the dirt nap and live on through eternity?
11| 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.
10| 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.
9| Last Words Of: George Engel, union activist and founder of the Socialistic Labor Party
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.
8| 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.
7| Last Words Of: James French, Convicted Murderer
James French was already serving a life sentence in an Ohio prison in 1966 when he began to realize that life is a really long fucking time. Unwilling to complete his sentence and reportedly scared of suicide, he did the only logical thing: kill his cell mate in an effort to convince the state to execute him.
We’re cool with someone wanting to be in control of their destiny, but did you have to be such a dick about it, James? Wouldn’t a pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top-execute-me have sufficed? This was 1966 in Ohio, so all he really would have had to do is tell a guard “You know what I like? Black-white integration and homosexuality–lots of homosexuality!” and his fate would have been sealed well enough.
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