The Death of Washington

By | Dec 14, 2011

George Washington lied dying in his bed at his Mount Vernon home on December 14, 1799 and at 10 PM he breathed his last breaths. The man who had lead the United States first through War as the Commanding General and later as the first President of the United States was dead at the age of 67.

The day before his death Washington was working on improvements to his beloved home. The day became rainy and before he returned to the house he was wet and had been exposed to the weather for a long period of time. Later in the afternoon he was seized with chilliness and nausea.

At the time the treatment of Washington on his final day, Doctors attending to him applied a dried-beetle mixture to his skin to induce blistering; gave him a mercury compound to clear his digestive system; and took five pints of blood, was considered appropriate medical advice. Although there was already science to prove that bleeding should not be done for any sickness. The treatment could have lead to a quicker death.

A special courier was sent to Philadelphia to deliver the news of Washington’s death to President John Adams. John Marshall, a Virginia representative, announced it to the assembled Congress and a public funeral was decreed. His private funeral was held at Mount Vernon on December 18, 1799.

Washington’s final will was dated “the ninth day of July” in 1799. In it he gave detail instructions on the freeing of his slaves and how they and their children as well as those that were old and imfirmed should be supported.

Ten days after Washington’s death a congressional committee recommended the building of a monument to honor the first President and to serve as the tomb for his remains. A lack of funds, disagreement on the type of monument and Washington’s family desires to not move the body prevented progress on the project. However in 1832, the 100th anniversary of Washington’s birth the Washington National Monument Society was formed. They raised money that would begin construction of the Washington Monument that was finally completed and dedicated on February 21, 1885.


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