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William Thomas Green Morton

Morton, William Thomas Green, 1819–68, American dentist and physician, b. Charlton, Mass., studied at Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He practiced dentistry in Boston, for a time with Horace Wells, whose unsuccessful demonstration of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, he sponsored in 1845. C. T. Jackson interested him in ether anesthesia, and in 1846 Morton demonstrated its use during an operation at Massachusetts General Hospital. The prior work of C. W. Long in ether anesthesia had not then been made public. Morton's subsequent claim to the discovery of the anesthetic effects of ether was bitterly disputed.

See G. S. Woodward, The Man Who Conquered Pain (1962); B. MacQuitty, Victory over Pain (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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