The Age of Discovery
William Thomas Green Morton (1819-1868)
William Green Morton was born at Charlton, Massachusetts, on 19th August 1819. He became at the age of 17 a businessman in Boston but after several years being unsuccessful; he took up the study of dentistry at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, and eventually trained as a dentist.
Ironically, he studied under Horace Wells in Hartford Connecticut. These two became associates.
Morton decided to leave the dentistry profession and study medicine at Harvard University.
After observing Horace Wells attempt to do a painless tooth extraction under nitrous oxide and fail miserably, also being called a "Humbug" in the distinguished company of surgeons, Morton decided to research into other substances especially ether to which he had become familiar with its anaesthetic properties whilst studying chemistry under Dr Charles T. Jackson. 179 He it seems in discussion with Jackson, experimented with Ether.
He eventually carried out a painless extraction on September 30th 1846.
He was now convinced that he could administer ether successfully using an inhaler he had designed, so he contacted Dr Warren at the Massachusetts General hospital to arrange a demonstration on a patient.
If before I continue with further information about Morton, I just demonstrate what it was like to have an amputation pre-anaesthesia on the next page.
"That so unlikely an outcome should accrue to a man possessed of such limited talent and so many flaws, and one lacking in a sense of ethics and decency was one of the bitter ironies of history." 181