A day after George Washington’s death, a doctor proposed a bizarre plan to rescurrect him

Dr. William Thornton was confident he could bring Washington back from the dead using his rare surgical technique.

The idea of bringing people back from the dead may sound bizarre and impractical. But in 1799, Dr. William Thornton was quite sure that his plan to bring his dear friend George Washington, the first President of the United States, back to life would be successful. It all started following the death of Washington on December 14. Thornton proposed a strange plan proclaiming that he could resurrect him, according to History.

Image Source: The 1st President of the United States, George Washington (1732 - 1799) on his deathbed surrounded by family, his wife, commonly known as Lady Washington (born Martha Custis, 1731 - 1802), friend and domestics. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)
Image Source: The 1st President of the United States, George Washington (1732 – 1799) on his deathbed surrounded by family, his wife, commonly known as Lady Washington (born Martha Custis, 1731 – 1802), friend and domestics. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Washington died at his home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, after suffering from a severe throat infection. He was believed to have been suffering from acute epiglottitis because it was extremely difficult for him to swallow or breathe. Thornton arrived at Mount Vernon a day after Washington’s death and suggested to Martha Washington, the president’s widow, that he could try to bring her husband to life by using an unconventional method—a tracheotomy.

Thornton was born in the British West Indies in 1759 and attended medical school in Scotland before moving to the United States in 1787 and gaining American citizenship. He was also responsible for the architectural design behind the US Capitol.

Image Source: William Thornton, 1804. Artist Gilbert Stuart. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)
Image Source: William Thornton, 1804. Artist Gilbert Stuart. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)

Thornton had shared his full plan in a letter to his friend as he said, “I proposed to attempt his restoration, in the following manner. First to thaw him in cold water, then to lay him in blankets, and by degrees and 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 trachea, and to inflate them with air, to produce an artificial respiration, and to transfuse blood into him from a lamb,” according to Trendy Digests.

Image source: George Washington, the 1st President of the United States at Mount Vernon farm on the Potomac where he grew up, farmed and finally died. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images
Image source: George Washington, the 1st President of the United States at Mount Vernon farm on the Potomac where he grew up, farmed and finally died. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

Despite having a detailed plan to revive Washington, it was Martha Washington who declined the offer as she had made peace with her husband’s demise. On the other hand, Washington was at the end of painful suffering and had instructed his family to honor his last wish. He had said, “I pray you to take no more trouble about me, let me go off quietly.”

Image Source: An engraving depicting the wedding of George Washington to Martha Dandridge in 1759, a crowd watches their wedding in a church, Washington, DC, 1759. From the New York Public Library. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
Image Source: An engraving depicting the wedding of George Washington to Martha Dandridge in 1759, a crowd watches their wedding in a church, Washington, DC, 1759. From the New York Public Library. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Even after two centuries of his death, Washington’s legacy lives on today as one of the most influential figures in American history. He was one of the United States’ Founding Fathers and face is engraved on coins, bills, monuments, and buildings. 

A worker uses a ladder to work near a full length portrait of former U.S. President George Washington, by Charles Wilson Peale, at Christie's auction house January 17, 2006 in New York City.(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Image Source: A worker uses a ladder to work near a full-length portrait of former U.S. President George Washington, by Charles Wilson Peale, at Christie’s auction house January 17, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Despite being stopped from performing his rare surgery, History suggests that Thornton wanted Washington to be buried in the US Capitol. However, Washington had stated in his will that he wished to be buried in his own space at Mount Vernon and therefore, his remains were not moved out of his estate.

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