The Death of George Washington

December 14, 1799 (67 years old)

Little Mouth of Horrors

Rotten teeth, abscesses, carbuncles, oh my!

Washington Sickens

December 14, 1799

Washington wakes up with a fever and can barely breathe.

There are no phones or cars, so getting a doctor means riding a horse eight miles away to inform the doctor he is needed.

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While they waiting, Washington was served a drink of molasses, vinegar, and butter. Then they wrapped a rag soaked in smelling salts around his neck.

Needless to say, it didn't work.

To top it off, Washington had his secretary and overseer perform a bloodletting. They take a knife and cut deep into a vein in his arm to let the blood flow out into a bowl. A half a pint was taken.

The End is Near...

He is given a dose of calomel (mercurous chloride) and a tartar emetic (makes a patient throw up) to rid his body of ... well, everything. Since there are no bathrooms in 1799, Washington had to poop and puke into bowls right next to his bed.

"You had better not take any more trouble about me; but let me go off quietly; I cannot last long."

But they didn't... more blister beetles and stuck wheat-bran poultices all over his legs and feet to suck up every last drop of liquid he had left in him.

He died that night.

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He most likely died to epiglottitis, an infection on the flap of skin at the back of the tongue that protects the windpipe. Today, a simple dose of antibiotics would have cured him.

How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg

All information was taken from this book, published in 2011 by Bloomsbury.