How George Washington Died: Bloodletting, Enemas, and the Dangers of 18th Century Medicine

By Grace Taylor
Washington on his Deathbed, Junius Brutus Stearns (1810–1885). (Wikimedia Commons)

In his early twenties, he fumbled his way through the Ohio Country alongside the British Army in his first military outing and quite unintentionally became a catalyst for the French and Indian (A.K.A. Seven Years') War. As a more seasoned military man, he led a political insurrection and became the head general in a great Revolutionary War which would mark a sea change on a global scale, as it was the first time a colony had ever won independence from a colonial power. He became a founding father of a new nation and deeply shaped its social, political, and economic landscape for centuries to come. He was unanimously elected the country's first president quickly thereafter, and to this day, he's still remembered as one of the greatest leaders that this relatively young country has ever known.

If you haven't guessed by now, we're talking about George Washington. While he was by no means a perfect man (owning slaves is never a good look), viewed within the context of his time and judged by his momentous impact on history, most Americans still regard him as a great man. In fact, it's the epic adventure of his life that makes his humdrum and arguably preventable death so darn frustrating.

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