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William Morton
(1819 - 1868)

picture of William Morton

On 30 September 1846, William Morton etherized Boston merchant Eben Frost before extracting his ulcerous tooth....

" I...waited impatiently for some one upon whom I could make a fuller trial. Toward evening, a man, residing in Boston . . . came in, suffering great pain and wishing to have a tooth extracted. He was afraid of the operation and asked if he could be mesmerized. I told him I had something better, and saturating my handkerchief, gave it to him to inhale. He became unconscious almost immediately. It was dark, and Dr. Hayden held the lamp, while I extracted a firmly rooted bicuspid tooth. There was not much alteration in the pulse, and no relaxation of the muscles. He recovered in a minute, and knew nothing of what had been done to him. This was on the 30th of Sept., 1846."

According to Henry Bigelow, one of Morton's first patients declared that the extraction of two of his teeth under ether "'was the best fun he ever saw', avowed his intention to come there again, and insisted on having another tooth extracted on the spot".


The Patent
"The Letheon"
William Morton
Utopian Surgery
Ether Inhaler (1867)
Refs and Further Reading
Anaesthesia and Anaesthetics