When George Washington died on December 14, 1799, the nation mourned the loss of its first President and the heroic general of the American Revolution, but one man didn't accept the President’s death. Instead of waiting for a divine presidential resurrection, Dr. William Thornton came up with his own plan to bring George Washington back to life.
Dr. Thornton, who was famous for being the architect who designed the United States Capitol Building, was also a trained physician and a friend to George Washington. Thornton was familiar with cutting-edge blood transfusion techniques, which had been banned in France for over 100 years because of their link with a grisly murder. But that didn't stop Dr. Thornton.
Thornton arrived at George Washington’s side only hours after the President died from a viral infection of his throat and bloodletting. The death had been caused by a loss of heat, air, and blood, Thornton reasoned, so it was possible to use heat, air, and blood to restore the President. Dr. Thornton’s plan to “resuscitate” George Washington started with thawing the President’s frozen corpse and warming the body. Dr. Thornton then planned to perform a tracheotomy to inflate the President’s lungs. The final step was to infuse the President’s body with hot lamb’s blood.
Only the intervention of George Washington’s family stopped Dr. William Thornton from creating the first Frankenstein president – though given the range of their ailments, other presidents likely would've appreciated the effort, as well.
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