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George Washington 189px-BlackadderivwordpresscomOn Monday, February 19, 2018 George Washington’s birthday was celebrated as a state holiday in the United States. Wall Street also closed on this day.

America’s first president was born on February 22, 1732 or, as the Julian calendar was still in use in Britain and the colonies, February 11, 1731.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809.

When I was a child, each had his own holiday. Some years ago, the two were combined. Some states celebrate both presidents’ birthdays on the third Monday in February. Others honour one of the two. Some states celebrate Presidents(‘) Day at other times of the year.

Last year, my reader sunnydaysall, from BrainHavenNet, posted Dr Christopher’s Herbal Legacy Newsletter from July 7, 2017, ‘The Untimely Death of America’.

It is well worth reading, especially for those interested in natural remedies.

One would have thought that George Washington would have had the finest medical care available. It seems he did in principle, but, judging from his final days, not in practice.

A summary and excerpts follow, emphases mine.

On Thursday, December 12, 1799, Washington was on his Mount Vernon estate and made his daily rounds. He was, as usual, out of the house between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. It was snowing that day and three inches of snow had already accumulated. The former president had helped to move a carriage that day that had been stuck in the snow.

Upon returning home, he felt a sore throat coming on. He was also growing hoarse. However, instead of changing into dry clothes, he sat down to dinner. Afterwards, he remained in his damp attire.

On Friday, he worked on his estate marking trees to be felled. He returned home:

had a pleasant evening and even joked about his worsening hoarseness. Two o’clock Saturday morning he was chilled, could scarcely speak and breathed with difficulty. In the morning a servant was dispatched to retrieve Dr. Craik and another servant was dispatched for a Mr. Rawlins who was a local bleeder. Mr. Rawlins removed a half pint of blood and then Dr. Craik upon arriving removed another pint of blood and dosed the former President with calomel (a mercury preparation). Two more Doctors arrived and yes removed even more blood and administered more mercury, purgative enemas and blistering plasters. A fourth bleeding was proposed and immediately protested by Dr. Elisha Dick the youngest of the three doctors. However, he was overruled by Dr. James Craik and a Dr. Richard Brown who then bled George Washington a fourth time and of course administered another round of mercury and another toxic chemical, antimony. It is estimated that half of his blood had been removed. By today’s standards that much loss of blood would result in extremely low blood pressure and would require an immediate transfusion along with intensive care.

That is incredibly over the top treatment for a bad cold. How President Washington must have suffered. He died on December 14, 1799.

At the time, when nothing else worked, the physicians in those days tried bleeding. Using emetics was also common, but less toxic ones were available. Using antimony and mercury were last resorts, even then. Why did the physicians not try a less dramatic treatment?

Dr Christopher says that the cause of Washington’s death given today is bacterial epiglottis:

and that an emergency tracheotomy would have saved his life.

That also seems pretty extreme.

One of the physicians got in touch with another two weeks later:

Dr. Brown had misgivings and in a letter to Dr. Craik said, “If we had taken no more blood from him, our good friend might have been alive now.” He added, “But we were governed by the best light we had. We thought we were right, and so we are justified.” A contemporary British physician John Reid sarcastically remarked that the “current of blood” drained from George Washington reflected the currents of American rivers. He then was critical of the heavy dosing of mercury and the administrations of emetics and blistering to a man in his late 60’s.

Exactly!

As Dr Christopher points out in his newsletter:

We do know as a fact that herbalists were present in the 1700s and for that matter in all eras. They were sometimes praised and sometimes ignored. We know that herbalists would have used remedies that were simple such as; lemon grass, rose hips, garlic, and onions that could have saved our beloved leader’s life. The emerging Thompsonian doctors could have relaxed the muscles with Lobelia and applied cayenne to the throat to increase circulation. Perhaps the native population could have provided golden seal with its berberine alkaloid that kills bacteria. It is a fact that there was plenty of light and knowledge available in 1799 that could have been used by the Washington family instead of turning to the popular or mainstream doctors of that day with their blood-letting and poisonous practice. At any rate, the sudden agonizing death of George Washington was untimely and a great loss to his family and countrymen.

What a sad Christmas that must have been for the Washington family and their friends. Then there was the population of the new(ish) United States, which also mourned his death. What a miserable end to the year.

I did not know this story and am grateful that Dr Christopher wrote about it and that sunnydaysall posted it.

If this had happened today, I would have said it was a murderous plot. Nowadays, we cannot accept anything as it appears.

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