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32d Congress, 2d Session^ January 21, 1853.

Presented by Mr. Davis, of MassBchasetts, and referred to the Select Committee to

whom had been referred the petition of sandrj PhysiciaBs of Boston

and vicinity, in support of the claim of W. T. G. Morton, M. D.,

for the discovery of Etherization.


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I *^A*

^O^K P^'o,




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I. — ^Testimony showmg that Dr. Morton had the idea of this dis-
covery, and was wholly en^ossed in its verification for months
prior to September 30, 1846, when Dr. Jackson claims to have
given him his first notion in that 'direction: —

Page Page

Dr. G. G. Hayden 193 Dr, Thomas R. Spear, Jr- - 219

Richard H. Dana, Jr., Esq. 196 Francis Whitm^, Esq.- - 221

Francis Dana, Jr., Esq. - - 196 Theodore Metcalfe, Esq. - 222

Dr. Wm. P. Leavitt 196 Dr. Joseph M. Wightman 232

Eben Frost, Esq. 257 B. B. Mussey, Esq. 257

n. — ^Testimony showing that Dr. Jackson ridiculed this discovery
while it was going through the experim-entum cruets y and washed
htt hands of all responsibility, simply claiming that he said to Dr.
Morton " Why don't you try ether," an untested suggestion : —

Page Page

Dr. A. A. Gould - - 265 Edward Warren, Esq. - - 442

Caleb Eddy, Esq. 286 Peleg W. Chandler, Esq.- 25»

Prof. J. D. Whitney 395 Joseph Burnett, Esq. 376

ni. — ^Testimony showing that even if Dr. Jackson*s statements to
Humboldt were literally true, he had not only not made the dis-
covery in question, but was not entitled to a scientific induction
from those premises that anaesthesia would be produced. This,
for two reasons. (1.) The nature of physiological science, which
dees not admit of exact reasoning, like mathematical, or even
chemical, or mechanical science, and (2.) because the same ef-
ects which he describes are produced by other agents which
do not stand the test of surgical experiments.

^Uoy Testimony of the surgeons of Boston and vicinity that
Dr, Jackson had no connexion with any of the experiments at
the hospital or in private practice, and that neither Dr. Warren,
nor any one else connected with the hospital, knew or suspected
that Dr. J. had any thing to do with the discovery until after
the second experiment at the hospital. Embracing a direct de-
nial from Dr. Warren that Dr. Jackson "requested** him to per-
form the experiment, and fall proof that the surgeons relied
solely upon Dr. Morton and his dental experiments, not even
knowing what they were administering, by Dr. Morton's direc-

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tioQ — Dr. Jackson not even attending an operation until two
months after ether was first used.


Dr. John C. Warren 301

Dr. Henry J. Bigelow - - 319

Dr. S. D. Townsend 355

Dr. J. Mason Warren 386

Dr. A. L. Peirson 456


Majority report 35

Memorial of physicians-— 183

Petition of trustees - 190

Testimony 191

Debate in Senate - - 473

IV. — Testimony showing a few of the many obstacles thrown in
the way of Dr. Morton, in his endeavors to assert his rights,
at home and abroad.


R. H. Eddy, Esq. 397

Harnden & Co. 6

Ben. Perley Poore, Esq.- 469

Hon. Edward Stanly 548

Hon. Truman Smith 10

R. J. Burbank, Esq. 435

N. C. Keep 104

J.L. Lord, Esq. 218

Horace Cornwall, Esq. Ap. 121

Joseph Burnett, Esq. 152

B. F. Brooks, Esq. 152

G. O.Barnes ••-292

CompteRendus 552

New appointment - 564

Exckisiye claim of prize«- - 36

CoaKtion 472

Destruction of bond 120

Opposition to physicians- 121

JacKSon's abuse - 121

False translation 552

Personal sacrifices r- 74

Defeat of subscription * — 121
Forestalling in iiurope — 126
Documents suppressed 08

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Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee : I ven-
ture to address to you this hastily prepared communication, and
to lay it before you in print, believing that it will aid you in a full
and lair examiation of the subject with which you are charged,
and thereby secure the ends of justice. Conscious of my right,
my only anxiety is that you may thoroughly acquaint yourselves
with all the facts involved in the controversy.

It is now more than six years since the world received, at my
hands, what I may not scruple to call one of the greatest of
physical blessings. Whatever attempts may be made to throw
doubt upon other points in the case, no one has been reckless
enough to deny that I alone have been, in fact, the humble in-
strument through whom a beneficent Providence has conferred
this boon upon mankind. Whatever floating notions may have
crossed men's minds from the earliest ages, tending to the same
end, it must be conceded that the world was no whit richer for
them until it fell to my lot to devote all my energies and sacrifice
all my means to its attainment. Now it is fully attained. What
was the dream of the philanthropist and the half-formed conjec-
ture of the scientific speculator, has become a household fact.

To me alone, of all the world, this result has been fraught with
suffering instead of comfort. Of pecuniary sacrifices I will not
0peak ; out surely it was not to have been anticipated that this
discovery should have made me the target for the most malicious
and envenomed assaults. There are wounds which are sharper
than those of the surgeon's knife, and which

" Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor an the drowsy syrups of the world,"

can make us feel less keenly. These have been my portion. I
trust that the reward is at hand. I look to you for justice : no-
thing more, nothing less.

My right is contested by two parties — Dr. C. T. Jackson, of
Boeton, and the representatives of Dr. Horace Wells, deceased^
late of Hartford, Connecticut.

As between Dr. Jackson and myself, there have been re-
peated adjudications. I call them adjudications, because, al-
though not the work of court and jury, they have all the quali-
ties to give them equal authority.

The report of the trustees of the Massachusetts General Hos-
pital, giving the reiterated verdicts of an enlightened jury of the

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vicinage, acxjuainted with all the witnesses, and upon view of ali*
the facts, have awarded the discovery to me. I respectfully ten-
der to your committee copies of these reports herewith.

The reports of two successive committees of the House of Rep-
resentatives, one of them after a thorough judicial examination,
with the aid of counsel on both sides, have come to the same con-
clusion. These reports, together with notes thereto, I beg leave
also to lay before you herewith.

Upon the last occasion, desirous of such an investigation as should
forever satisfy all impartial minds, I voluntarily invokeil the
intervention of Dr. Jackson, and fully exhibited the claim of Dr.
Wells as it then stood, notice having been given to Mr. Ingersoll
for himself and Mr. Truman Smith, who had charge of Dr. Wells's
interest. Since that time I have gone into Connecticut and called
before a United States Commissioner every witness within my
reach who was relied on in support of the Wells claim, or was
supposed to know any facts concerning his alleged discovery,
and have examined them fully. The result of these examinations
is also laid before you herewith, in full copies of all the depositions
duly certified.

Before the committees of the House of Representatives, Dr.
Jackson's aounsel produced an extract from the report of a Com-
mittee of the French Academy, and quoted it (as Mr. Stanly*s
report does) as the language of the Academy, characterizinff it
as a definitive award of all the honor and originality to Dr.

I have now a full copy of the report of that Committee, aad
beg to submit a translation thereof made by the translator of the
State Department, which will be found at page 567.

From this it will be seen that the report of this Committee
^p. 573) agrees that I had the preoccupation of mind, Mc engross^
tng idea of this discovery originally; and that having the origi-
nal idea, I " cempleted^^ the discovery, which, without my " ottto-
ct7y" would probably have remained "fruitless and without
effect" in Dr. Jackson's mind.

Make the best of this conclusion for Dr. Jackson, and it
amounts to no more than might probably be alleged for many
others. It concedes to me equal original idea with Dr. Jackson,
and the whole merit of *' completing the discovery^* — language
which imports that " the discovery** had not been theretofore

But the report assumes as its basis as to Dr. Jackson, the fol-
lowing, viz :

" Mr. Jackson had observed that some persons on being exposed
for a certain period of time to the action of etherial vapors were
momentarily deprived of all sensiUlity. This is the physio -
logical fact. Mr. Jackson established the fact by trying the ex-
periment upon himself.**

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Now Dr. Jackson kifM$lf has nsver claimed (on tbi3 side of
the ocean) that he '^ had observed thai some personsy^* &o., as
above assumed. Oq the contrary, he claims to have been of suffi-
cientl)r mighty mind to hard reached this coneluaon in 1842 bj
induction from effects produced on himself. The foundation,
therefore, fails. No such fact existed.

I beff attention to the page last cited, and submit to any legal
mind the question whether, upon the very statement of that report
itself, my priority of title would not be incontestible under our

In the same Compte Rendtis, page 556, April 23, 1849, a]^ars
the following :

'< M. Morton writes from Boston, dated the 16th of March, a
letter concerning the question of priority for the discovery of the
luaesthetic properties of ether. The author begs the Academy
in the case they were disposed to pronounce upon this question, a
wish that it should be made known to him in advance, so that he
can come in person to sustain his rights before them. M. Mor-
ton, afler having noticed that the first experiments with this
subject had been made at the hospital at Boston, announces that
the administrators of this establishment, in their annual report for
the year 1848, attribute to him formally the honor of the dis-
covery. He adds, that the question having been brought before
the Congress of the United States, the majority of the committee
to which it had been submitted, have judged in the same sense.''

The Compte Rendus of the Academy fa copy of which is in
the Smithsonian Institution) contains, unaer date of March 24,
1848, the following:

'^M. Morton announced the sending of documents destined to
establish in his favor the priority relative to the discovery of the
effect of the inhalation of the vapor of ether. The documekts


M. Morton was sent to be examined by the Commission upon
ether and chloroform."

Thus this report, so vaunted by Dr. Jackson, was made on his
(Dr. J.'s.) ex parte showing. Tiiey had my memoir with a frag-
ment of my testimony, but the bulk of my evidence never reached
them. I was wholly unknown to them — was depreciated be-
fore them by Dr. Jackson's representations — while he was sup-
ported by his friend M. Elie de Beaumont. See Mr. Poore^s let-
tcTy p. 469.

The facts will appear by the following :

" On the 31if o) January last the Institute of France awarded
the ^ Cross of the Legion of Honor^ to Dr. Jackson as the discov-
erer of of etherization. — Minority Report, J^o. 114, 30/ A Con-
gress, 1M8-9, February 28.*'

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The report was made in January, 1849. (See Minority Report,
No. 114, September, 1848-9, H.R.) ^ r^ >

I had written as follows :

"If it is the intention of the Academy to pass upon this ques-
tion, I trust that I shall receive notice thereof, that I may lay be-
fore the Academy the evidence developed by the several investi-
gations, and may be personally present. I have also some most
material and recently discovered testimony not laid before the
committee of Congress, or the trustees of the hospital, which I
hope to have in form in season for your investigation/'

I never received any notice in reply, and the journal does not
show that they ever intended to give me any.

The report had already been made in January, 1849. (See
Minority Report, No. 114, vbi supra.)

Now, at that time, even the evidence which I had forwarded
had not reached them.*

"Boston, March 14, 1849.
"Dear Sir: By a letter received from our Paris agent while
you were, in Washington, we learn that your pamphlets, addressed
to the French Academy and others, owing to a wrong impression >
have not as yet been received. They remained at the French
custom-house from May 6th to December 16th. The duties on
them have now been paid, and they are in the hands of an agent
at Paris awaiting your further instructions. Please give us your
orders in season for transmitting per next steamer £*om Boston.
"We remain your obedient servants,

'W. T.G.Morton, M.D."


In this state of things, all that Dr. Jackson could procure, was
suoh a report as we have seen.

I return now to what has been stated, as to my having invari-
ably introduced fairly and fully the claims of my adversaries on
all occasions of investigation. And recently, I have proceeded
to cite and examine witnesses before the U. S. Commissioner at
Boston, in perpetuam m memoriamy in the presence of Dr.
Jackson's counsel, and with ample opportunity to him to detect
error on my side and fortify his own.

This testimony will be ^und most important and convincing,
and is at p. 191.

This has been my course : — open, bold, courting investigation,
defying controversy.

On the other hand, I refer you to the testimony of Horace

* Dr. Morton also met with another miifortnne. All hia pamphlets consigned
for distribution to the principal journals and the chief sorgeons and men of sci-
ence in Great Britain, got into the poasession of a person who had heoome com-
mitted and prejudiced against Dr. Morton, and they were suppressed. — Litteil^s
lAving Agty No. 201.

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Cornwall, Esq., the counsel employed by me in that proceeding,
' at page 121, Appendix. By this yon will see —

1st. That Dr. Ellsworth, one of the three principal witnesses
relied on for Wells, is little else than the actual party concerned.

2d. I'hat under his direction the witnesses for Wells were with-
drawn from cross-examination by my counsel, — were examined
privately, under lock and key, — to keep them from the test of
truth I — that even after they were so examined, my counsel was
refused to see their testimony, and even their names withheld
from him by direction of Dr. Ellsworth, acting avowedly as the
agent for Wells's claim.

I have a right, I think you will agree, thus to contrast my course
with theirs, leaving you to draw your own conclusions from the
facts. I forbear to make any commentary on them. I ask you
only to read Mr, Cornwall's deposition, (p. 121 Appendix.)

In like manner, on the present occasion, the same consciousness of
right, and the same determination not to claim or receive any honor,
reward, or payment, which shall not be clearly my due, upon a
full and impartial hearing of all sides, have inducedf me to collect
together, and to print at my own expense, all that has ever ap-
peared in the way of evidence in support of my opponents.

My only alternatives vrere to subject myself to apparently in-
terminable delay, or to the most unjust and unfounded imputation,
(speech of Hon. Truman Smith, August 28, 1852, Cong. Globe,)
heretofore made, of having proceeded and acted upon the con-
sideration of my claim alone. The present session is rapidly
passing away. The memorials of Boston surgeons, physicians
and oUiers, m my favor, were, I believe, the very first which
were referred by the Senate. My evidence was promptly pre-
sented and referred. After the lapse of nearly a month, and
neither of my opponents having appeared, notice was given to
Mr. Hayes, (counsel for Dr. Jackson,) and Hon. Truman Smith,
(representing Mr. Wells,) to present their evidence, respectively,
and have it referred to your committee.

Time is still rapidly passing on. No such evidence has been
presented by either of these parties. You will perceive at once,
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, that the strategy of my opponents
is directed to wearing out my life, and exhausting my means, in
order that they may be ^^ in at the d$aih.'* I am determined that,
\i Heaven spares my life, to complete this communication, to mv
wife and children at least, and to my name and memory, you shall
have been the means of doing complete and impartial justice.

I therefore submit to you herewith printed copies of two minority
reports in favor of Dr. Jackson,* with all the evidence, rumors,
hearsay, speculations, arguments and opinions, relied on in those
reports to support his pretensions, with annotations.

• 8e« notes od pages 648, 549 and 664.

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I also subsut printed comes of the two pai^Uets puUidbed in
favor of Dr. Wells, (the first by Wells himself, and the seconcf
written by the Hon. Isaac Toucey,) together with all the evidence,
rumors, hearsay, speculations, arguments and opinions by which
it is attempted to be sustained. This includes a document of
one hundred and thirty-two pages.

I invoke, and if I may be pardoned for the use of the language,
I demand a fair and impartial examination of all these. At the
last session of Congress, and just at its heel, a coalition between
the Wells and Jackson claims suddenly interposed an unexpected
difficulty in my way. I will not deny that, under the circum-
stances, enough was said and done to throw doubt upon my right.
Apprehending the repetition of this, as it seems to me very un£air
course, I determined to submit my claim again to the most rigid
judicial investigation, if that were considered necessary ; and if,
on that basis. Congress would appropriate what it should deter-
mine to be due t6 the discoverer, whoever he might prove to be.
Accordingly, the following projet of a bill was presented to the
Hon. Truman Sn^th and to Mr. Hayes:


To reward, by a national tMtimonialy tJie discovery of the means of producing
inseneibilipy to pain in surgieal operations and other eases of suffering.

Whereas a discovery has been made of the existeDce of anssihetic qualities
capable of being applied safelj and certainly, and with great utility, to produce
entire insensibility to pain, and thus enabling surgical and obstetrical operations
to be performed safely and without suffering, and of the application thweof ;
and whereas the goyemment of the United States have had the benefit thereof
in their military and naval service, and the free and common use by the public
generally ; and whereas a Judicial inquiry seems to be necessary to aseertaiD
which of the three claimants hereinafter named is justly entitled to be rewarded
for the discovery aforesaid, be it therefore enacted, &c., as follows .

Sec. 1. That the sum of one hundred thousand dollars is appropriated in the
bands of the Secretary of the Treasury, out of any moneys in the treasury not
otherwise appropriated, as a remuneration for the use of the discovery aforesaid,
to be paid by the Secretary of the Treasury to one of the claimants hereinafter
mentioned, who shall, by legal and competent evidence in the proceedings here-
inafter provided, establish his claim thereto, for and on account of the dlscOTcrj
aforesaid : Provided , That if W. T. G. Morton, hereinafter mentioned, shall be
declared by final judgment in the proceedings hereinafter mentioned to bo enti-
tled to receive the fund hereby granted, he shall, before receiving the same,
execute and deliver to the Commissioner of Patents, a surrender of the letters
■ patent granted to him on the twelfth day of, November, in the year eighteen
hundred and forty-six.

Sec. 2. That the district attorney of the United States for the district of Mas-
sachusetts shall forthwith file hi the Circuit Court of the United States for the
district of Massachusetts, sitting in equity, in the name and in behalf of the
Secretary of the Treasury, a bill of int^leader, therein reciting this^act as
the substance thereof; the Secretary of the Treasury, as stakt^holder of the ftind
hereby granted, shall be made complainant, and William T. G. Morten, of Bos-
ton, in the State of Massachusetts, Charles T. Jackson, of Boston, aforesaid,
and the legal representative or represuntatives of Horace Wells, late of Hart-
ford, in the State of Conaecticut, deceased, shall respectively be made xeapond-
ents, in which suit the said Morton and Jackson and the legal represenutive or
representatives of the said Wells shall litigate their respective claims to receive

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the reBMUMOition hereby grmnted tot and^oo aeconnt of the diaeovery elbreaaM.
. And the aaid Circuit Goorl ia hereby authorized to take jariadictloii in the aaid
canae and determine the queation to whom the reward ahall be paid, by refer-
ence to the principlea and analogiea in which courts of equity haying jurisdiction

Online LibraryPennsylvaniaThe statutes at large of Pennsylvania from 1682 to 1801 → online text (page 1 of 79)