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
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
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
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
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
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
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