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On December 13, 1799, Washington was outside during a winter storm at Mount Vernon.  Not wanting to be late to dinner, he did not change out of his wet clothes, and that night started complaining of a sore throat.  His situation worsened, and his doctors practiced bloodletting on him.  His throat became inflamed, which caused the doctors to put "blister of cantharides" on Washington's throat due to the medical idea that blisters would draw out the inflammation.  Since disease back then was considered an imbalance of humors, more blood was taken from Washington, and he was given enemas and made to vomit at a time when his body needed fluids in order to balance electrolytes.  Washington died the next day, and doctors and historians have debated the cause of death, with theories such as diphtheria, strep, and pneumonia, but the leading cause of death is an inflammation of the epiglottis, a flap that prevents food from going down the trachea.  This is consistent with contemporary doctor reports of Washington not being able to swallow, worsening to an inability to breathe.  Even today, an inflammation of this nature is still dangerous.  

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George Washington was a founder of the United States and finished his second term as its first president in 1797. He then retired to his plantation home, Mount Vernon, in Virginia. On December 13 1799, Washington spent much of the day on horseback in the freezing cold and hail, supervising various activities around his plantation home. He remained in his wet clothes all through dinner that evening, before retiring to his library to read and write. He woke in the early hours of the morning, around 2 am, with a shortness of breath and severe pain in his chest. His wife, Martha, sent Washington's aide, Colonel Tobias, to fetch the doctor, James Craik, and the estate's overseer, George Rawlins.

By 6 am, Washington had developed a fever and intense pain in his neck which made breathing extremely difficult. At 7:30 am, Rawlins, who was well-experienced in bloodletting, removed 12 to 14 ounces of blood from Washington's body. Washington requested that he remove even more and this was followed by a tonic of molasses, butter vinegar. Over the course of the day, Washington's doctors removed blood from his body three more times and also administered a treatment called Spanish fly, designed to irritate his throat and draw out any deadly humors. None of these treatments, however, were able to save Washington and he died at home at 10 pm on December 14 1799, from what many believe to be a throat infection.

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