George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 3 February 1771]

3. Val. Crawford came this Afternoon & Price Posey went away in the Morng.

Young Posey was going to Annapolis and apparently carried a letter from GW to Jonathan Boucher, in which GW asked the tutor on behalf of Mrs. Washington to buy two ounces of ether for Patsy Custis, “if such a thing is to be had in Annapolis,” and to send it by Price Posey on his return to Virginia (3 Feb. 1771, CSmH). Ether, like valerian and musk, was thought to be a strong antispasmodic, useful in treating epilepsy when taken internally in small doses (HOOPER description begins Robert Hooper. Lexicon-Medicum; or Medical Dictionary; Containing an Explanation of the Terms in Anatomy, Botany, Chemistry, Materia Medica, Midwifery, Mineralogy, Pharmacy, Physiology, Practice of Physic, Surgery, and the Various Branches of Natural Philosophy Connected with Medicine. New York, 1826. description ends , 383). It was not employed as an anesthetic until the next century.

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