William Thomas Green Morton

Morton, William Thomas Green


Born Aug. 9, 1819, in Charlton, Mass.; died July 15, 1868, in New York. American dental surgeon, famous for introducing narcosis into surgical practice.

Morton received his medical education at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery and at Harvard Medical School. On the advice of C. T. Jackson, a professor of chemistry, he used sulfuric ether as an analgesic while removing teeth, first verifying its effect on animals and then on himself. On Oct. 16, 1846, with Morton participating as anesthetist, the American surgeon J. C. Warren performed a successful operation for removal of a vascular tumor in a man under ether narcosis; the method rapidly attained wide use.

Credit for Morton’s discovery was claimed by the American physicians H. Wells, C. T. Jackson, and C. Long. In the ensuing dispute, which continued for some 20 years, Morton spent his entire fortune and died in poverty.


Remarks on the Proper Mode of Administering Sulphuric Ether by Inhalation. Boston, 1847.


Warren, J. C. Testimony to the Claim That Dr. W. T. G. Morton Is Entitled to Credit as the Discoverer of Anaesthesia. Boston, 1910.
Woodward, G. S. The Man Who Conquered Pain: A Biography of William Thomas Green Morton. Boston, 1962.


References in periodicals archive ?
William Thomas Green Morton successfully performed a painless tooth extraction - but spent the rest of his life trying to prove that he was the first person to discover ether's pain-relieving qualities.
Tarnished Idol: William Thomas Green Morton and the Introduction of Surgical Anesthesia.
Later came a dispute involving William Thomas Green Morton, a dentist with a troubled past; his mentor, dentist Horace Wells; and chemist/geologist Charles T.Jackson.