Death Report of General Washington

From " The Times," a News-paper printed in Alexandria-
          (Virginia), dated in December, 1799.
  Messrs. J. and D. Westcott,

Presuming that some account of the late illness and death of General Washington will be generally interesting, and particularly so to the professors and practitioners of medicine throughout America, we request you to publish the following statement.

JAMES CRAIK.
ELISHA C. DICK.

Some time in the night of Friday the 13th instant, having been exposed to rain on the preceding day, General Washington was attacked with an inflammatory affection of the upper part of the wind-pipe, called in technical language, cynanche tracheatis. The disease commenced with a violent ague, accompanied with some pain in the upper and fore part of the throat, a sense of stricture in the same part, a cough, and a difficult rather than a painful deglutition, which were soon succeeded by fever and a quick and laborious respiration. The necessity of blood-letting suggesting itself to the General, he procured a bleeder in the nighbourhood, who took from his arm, in the night, twelve or fourteen ounces of blood: he would not by any means be prevailed upon by the family to send for the attending physician till the following morning, who arrived at Mount Vernon at about eleven o'clock on Saturday. Discovering the case to be highly alarming, and foreseeing the fatal tendency of the disease, two consulting physicians were immediately sent for, who arrived, one at half after three, the other at four o'clock in the afternoon. In the interim were employed two copious bleedings; a blister was applied to the part affected, two moderate doses of calomel were given, and an injection was administered, which operated on the lower intestines—but all without any perceptible advantage; the respiration becoming still more difficult and distressing.—Upon the arrival of the first of the consulting physicians, it wa* agreed, as there were yet no signs of accumulation in the bronchial vessels of the lungs, to try the result of another bleeding, when about thirty-two ounces of blood were drawn; without the smallest apparent alleviation of the disease. Vapours of vinegar and water were frequently inhaled, ten grains of calomel were given, succeeded by repeated doses of emetic tartar, amounting, in all, to five or six grains, with no other effect than a copious discharge from the bowels. The powers of life seemed now manifestly yielding to the force of the disorder. Blisters were applied to the extremities, together with a cataplasm of bran and vinegar to the throat. Speaking* which was painful from the beginning, now became almost impracticable; respiration grew more and more contracted and imperfect, till half after eleven o'clock on Saturday night, when, retaining the full possession of his intellect, he expired without a struggle.

He was fully impressed at the beginning of his complaint, as well as through every succeeding stage of it, that its conclusion would be mortal, submitting to the several exertions made for his recovery rather as a duty than from any expectation of their efficacy. He considered the operations of death upon his system as coeval with the disease; and several hours before his decease, after repeated efforts to be understood, succeeded in expressing a desire that he might be permitted to die without interruption.

During the short period of his illness he economized his time in the arrangement of such few concerns as required his attention, with the utmost serenity, and anticipated his approaching dissolution with every demonstration of that equanimity for which his whole life had been so uniformly and singularly conspicuous; .

JAMES CRAIK,  Attending Physicians

ELISHA C. DICK. Consulting Physicians

The signature of Dr. Gustavus Brown, of Port-Tobacco, who attended as consulting physician; on account of the remoteness of his residence from the place, has not been procured to the foregoing statement.

Revolutionary War and Beyond Home

Like This Page?

Facebook Comments

people have commented on this page. Share your thoughts about what you just read! Leave a comment in the box below.