The Age of Discovery
William Thomas Green Morton
Charles T Jackson
Charles Jackson disputed the claim of Morton that he discovered Anaesthesia. Jackson claimed this honour for himself. It is also known that Jackson also claimed the invention (idea) for Morse’s telegraph, and had battled with Morse on that point. During a voyage to the USA from Europe Jackson described to Morse European experiments with electromagnetism.
However his claim to the invention of anaesthesia had more substance as it was to do with the ether.
It all started when Horace Wells contacted these two about seeking a relief from the horrors of surgery and Dental extraction. But, neither Morton nor Jackson showed much interest in working with Wells.
Months later, Morton encountered a dental patient experiencing intense pain fears. He asked Jackson, a chemist, for nitrous oxide.
Jackson replied that he didn't have any, but that ether would do just the same. Morton experimented with ether for dental surgery and quickly became convinced it would work for hospital surgery.
After the demonstration On October 27, 1846, Morton and Jackson applied for a patent which was issued on November 12, 1846.
They did not reveal that the anaesthetic agent was sulphuric ether although it soon became apparent.
On the application for patent it was labelled "Letheon". Patent No. 4848 was issued on November 12,1846.
There then arose a dispute with Wells, Jackson claiming to be the co discoveries of Anaesthesia (There was a reward of a $100,000 for the discoverer)
After Wells death, the implacable dispute between Morton and Jackson continued, since both wanted to be the recipients of the $100,000 to the discoverer of anaesthesia.
The senator from Connecticut, Truman Smith, derailed in two occasions Morton's attempts to obtain the award with passionate discourses in favour of Wells, citizen of his state.
Both Morton and Jackson mobilized legions of lawyers, lobbyists, newspapermen and politicians to defend their respective causes Morton tried to bribe John Riggs to support him but Riggs responded that his integrity was not for sale. Morton tried al unsuccessfully, to obtain the support of Wells' widow, offering her one half of the reward. 187
The expenses and aggravation caused by this bitter dispute cost Morton all his fortune and also his physical and mental health. He died in 1868, as a consequence.
Jackson continued his incessant but fruitless pursuit of the U.S. Congress award, even after Morton's death. Dr. Jackson went insane and was placed in an asylum in Somerville, MA, where he remained until his death in 1880.
On his gravestone is engraved his discovery of the process.
Who does the discovery belong to really; Oliver Wendell Holmes put it in simple words and could be referring to all historical contributors when he said
“There is nothing more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the depths of an ether binge.”188