21 July 2014

President George Washington was not "reanimated"

In the hours after his death, some of the people close to Washington discussed reanimating his corpse because they couldn’t stand burying “the indispensible man.” The person most passionate about this idea was William Thornton, a close friend of Washington, a physician trained in European medical schools, and an amateur architect who designed the United States Capitol.

Thornton arrived in Mt. Vernon the morning after Washington passed and suggested a unique (for lack of a better word) method of resuscitating Washington’s body. Twenty years after Washington’s death Thornton wrote:

I proposed to attempt his restoration, in the following manner.  First to thaw him in cold water, then to lay him in blankets, & by degrees & by friction to give him warmth, and to put into activity the minute blood vessels, at the same time to open a passage to the Lungs by the Trachaea, and to inflate them with air, to produce an artificial respiration, and to transfuse blood into him from a lamb. 

Though we don’t know if Martha Washington truly considered this a viable option, we do know it was never attempted.
Text and image from Strange Remains, where there are further details.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds perfectly horrifying to me to attempt to do. I hardly think that Martha would have even considered it.


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