DEAD: ON THIS DATE
George Washington (aged 67)
1st president of the United States
George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was one of the Founding Fathers and the first President of the United States (1789–1797). He commanded Patriot forces in the new nation’s American Revolutionary War and led them to victory over the British. Washington also presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which established the new federal government. For his leadership he has been called the “Father of His Country”.
DEATH: Dr. Brown thought that Washington had quinsy; Dick thought the condition was a more serious “violent inflammation of the throat”. Continued bloodletting (approximately five pints) proved unsuccessful, and Washington’s situation quickly deteriorated. Dick proposed an emergency tracheotomy, but the other two doctors were unfamiliar with the new procedure and disapproved, so it was not used. Washington instructed Brown and Dick to stop their attempts to save his life and leave the room, while he assured Craik, “Doctor, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go.”
Washington’s illness and death came more swiftly than expected. Washington instructed his private secretary Tobias Lear to wait three days before his burial, in order not to be entombed alive. Washington asked Lear, “Do you understand me ?”. “Yes,” responded Lear. Washington said, “Tis well.”Washington died peacefully with Martha composed at the foot of his bed around 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 14, 1799 at age of sixty-seven. Funeral arrangements included Washington’s Masonic lodge of Alexandria, Virginia, various members of the clergy, Dr. Craik, military officers, and various members of the Fairfax family. When news of his death reached Congress, they immediately adjourned for the day and the Speaker’s chair was shrouded in black the next morning.