Description

    George Washington Autograph Letter Signed "Go: Washington" as President, one page, 7.75" x 9.5". Philadelphia, August 15, 1795. On verso, Washington has penned, "To/Doctr. Wm. Rowley/Member of the Univy./of Oxford &c &c/15th Augt. 1795." Light show-through in a mostly blank area on front. Washington writes to Dr. Rowley, in full, "I have been honored with four volumes of your 'Rational practice of Physic' which you had the goodness to send me, and for such ["I entreat" crossed out] mark of your polite attention, let me entreat you, Sir, to receive the best thanks of Your most Obedient and obliged Hble servt." The Rational Practice of Physic of William Rowley (1742-1806) was published by the author in London in 1793. The four volumes were described in advertisements as "New editions, with considerable improvements, of the principal works, which the author hath published or written during these last thirty years." From the table of contents: "Female, nervous, hysterical, hypochondriacal, and cancerous diseases. Letters on medical vanity, the abuse of hemlock, &c., &c.--II. Convulsions and spasms; lethargy, apoplexy, & palsy. The different species of gout. The bite of what has been called, a mad dog, &c.--III. One hundred & eighteen diseases of the eyes. The history and use of electricity in various disorders.--IV. The cure of ulcerated legs without rest, &c. The putrid, malignant sore throat. The cause of the deaths of children in scarlet and putrid fever, &c. Medical advice to the army and navy. Diet, containing the foods, &c. used in the whole world." George Washington had begun acquiring medical books and medicines from England in the mid-1760s and would treat the servants on his plantation. He favored the use of bloodletting as a treatment for illness and was known to practice it on himself during the American Revolution when a doctor was not available. On December 13, 1799, while supervising activities at Mount Vernon, Washington developed a sore throat. Perhaps he consulted Volume IV of Rowley's work. He became hoarse that evening and awoke at 2 A.M. with a sore neck, strained voice, and fever. Doctors were summoned and he was bled three times on the morning of December 14th. Washington was given a mixture of vinegar and sage tea to gargle for his sore throat. By evening, after other treatments, including more bleeding, Washington realized the end was near, thanked his doctors, and asked that no further medical care be given. The 67-year-old father of his country died after 10 P.M. that night while he was taking his pulse. Washington letters with medical content, even in passing, are rarely encountered and this is a fine example written as President. There is a sliver of tanning across the top from prior framing and the letter has been strengthened on verso at both horizontal folds. Lightly browned and boldly and darkly penned by Washington, the letter is in fine condition. It is not listed in Fitzpatrick. Accompanied by a 10.25" x 14.25" portrait of Washington (image,7.34" x 10.5") with facsimile signature.



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    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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