Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/126

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LONG


the year 184;^." In May. 1848, Drs. R. D. Moore and Joseph B. Carlton, for many years leading physicians in the city of Athens, Georgia, discviss- ed the trial of Dr. C. ^^'. Long's dis- covery in a case of singery before them. They were unfortunately i)re- vented from making the experiment by having none of the fluid at hand. Mrs. Emma (\irlton, widow of Di'. Joseph B. Carlton, who died recently' in Athens after living here for many j'ears, signed the following: "I do certify that Dr. Crawford W. Long, of Jefferson, Jackson County, advised my husband. Dr. Joseph B. Carlton, a resident of Athens, Georgia, to try sulphuric ether as an anesthetic in his practice. In November or December, 1844, in Jefferson, Georgia, while on a visit to that place, in the office of Dr. Long, my husband extracted a tooth from a boy who was under the influence, by inhalation, of sulphuric ether, with- out pain — the boy not knowing when it was done. I further certify that the fact of Long using sulphuric ether, by inhalation, to prevent pain, was frequenth- spoken of in the county of Jackson at this time, and was quite notorious."'

It is to be regretted that Long did not at once make known to the world his great discovery of anesthesia. Considered from a present j>oint of view, his delay seems extraordinary. But it must not be forgotten that since that period the world has moved with exceeding rapidity. Sixty-five years ago, for a young medical practi- tioner in an obscure village, far from contact with centers of thought, re- moved from railroads, enjoying but modest postal facilities, with no great hospital organizations or medical as- sociations to confirm his professional research, for a modest, diffident, young physician to claim so startling a dis- covery as anesthesia has proven to be without first securing most exhaustive proof of its worth, would have brought upon him the adverse criticism of liis


elders, and possibly the laughter of his colleagues.

Dr. AVilliam IL Welch said that Long "is neces.sarily deprived of the larger honor which would have been his due had he not delayed publication of his experiments Avith ether until several years after the universal accept- ance of surgical anesthesia . . . we need not withhold from Dr. Long the credit of independent and ])rior experiment and discovery but we cannot assign to him any influence upon the historical development of our knowledge of surg- ical anesthesia or au}^ share in its introduction to the world at large." A careful examination of the question clearly shows that two and a half years elapsed after the discovery by Crawford W. Long, before Dr. Wells, of Hartford, knew the anesthetic power of nitrous oxide ; that four and a half years passed after Dr. Long's initial experi- ment before Dr. Morton claimed to have the same knowledge. Morton is declared to have received the suggestion from Jackson; the latter claims to have made the discovery about the time Dr. Long made it, but left it to Morton to practi- cally prove it. Hugh H. Young of Johns Hopkins Hospital, in his interesting pamphlet entitled " Long, the Discoverer of Anesthesia," says "The immediate and universal use of anesthesia in sur- gery is due to the great Boston surgeons, Warren, Hay ward and Bigelow."

In 1849 Morton petitioned Congress for a reward as the discoverer, but he was opposed by the friends of Wells and Jack- son. The friends of Morton and Wells presented volumes of testimony to the Senate of the United States in behalf of their candidates, but Jackson afterwards acknowledged the justice of Dr Long's cause. For five years Crawford W, Long refused to take any part in the contro- versy, but he naturally desired to be rec- ognized as the discoverer of anesthesia, and to that effect wrote an article for the " Boston Medical Journal."

Confronted by so formidable an oppon- ent as Dr. Long, the friends of Morton