An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to 2022 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

16018 entries, 14076 authors and 1941 subjects. Updated: July 23, 2024

JACKSON, Charles Thomas

4 entries
  • 7310

U. S. Patent No. 4848. The United States of America. To all to whom these Letters Patent shall come.... November 12, 1846.

Washington, DC, 1846.

U.S. Patent No. 4848, issued to Charles T. Jackson and William T. G. Morton on November 12, 1846 for the discovery of sulfuric ether as a surgical anesthetic. This was the first truly significant medical patent ever issued. Few copies of this broadside were printed. Though the patent was formally issued on November 12, 1846 it is likely that the patent was first printed (as a broadside) in 1847.

Critics of Jackson's role in the discovery should remember that he shared the patent for the discovery with Morton, as Jackson discovered the scientific effects of ether in surgery while Morton deserves credit for introducing them to the surgical community. However, the patent proved unenforceable and the famous long-running dispute between Morton and Jackson over priority in the discovery ensued.

"Be it known that we, Charles T. Jackson and William T. G. Morton of Boston, in the County of Suffolk, and State of Massachusetts, have invented or discovered a new and useful improvement in surgical operations on animals, whereby we are enabled to accomplish many, if not all operations . . . without any, or with very little pain....

"It has never (to our knowledge) been known until our discovery, that the inhalation of [chemical ethers] (particularly those of sulphuric ether) would produce insensibility to pain, or such a state of quiet of nervous action as to render a person or animal incapable to a great extent, if not entirely, of experiencing pain while under the action of the knife or other instrument of operation of a surgeon, calculated to produce pain.

"This is our discovery, and the combining it with, or applying it to any operation of Surgery, for the purpose of alleviating animal suffering, as well as of enabling a surgeon to conduct his operations with little or no struggling, or muscular action of the patient, and with more certainty of success, constitutes our invention...."



Subjects: ANESTHESIA › Ether, LAW and Medicine & the Life Sciences › Patents
  • 7249

Première Lettre. Boston, le 13 november 1846.

Compt. rend. l'Acad. Sci., 24, 75-76, 1847.

Jackson, a physician, geologist and chemist in Boston, wrote this letter to Élie de Beaumont in Paris on November 13, 1846, the day after he and William T. G. Morton jointly received U.S. Patent No. 4848 for Improvement in Surgical Operations, a patent for the use of ether as an anesthetic. Inexplicably Jackson did not mail the letter until December 1. de Beaumont received the letter on December 28; however, he delayed opening the letter until the meeting of the Académie des Sciences on January 18, 1847. This  letter, when published, was Jackson's first published record of his co-discovery, with William T. G. Morton, of surgical anesthesia, in which Jackson discovered the anesthetic properties of ether while Morton first the first to apply it in surgery. Discussion of Jackson's letter by Velpeau, Serres and Roux followed in the volume of the Comptes rendus on pp. 76-79.

Even though the patent for the discovery of ether anesthesia was assigned to Jackson and Morton jointly, Morton, who desired to profit financially from ether anesthesia, politicized the discovery in his attempt to gain compensation from the U.S. government, and discredited Jackson's role. Jackson, who desired credit due rather than money, asserted his claim to share in the discovery in several publications, but in the political controversy that ensued, Morton's political skills and Jackson's seeming nearly total lack thereof, caused Jackson's claims and his reputation to become discredited. Morton's supporters became so convinced of the falseness of Jackson's claims that some later asserted that Jackson died insane, when in reality Jackson suffered a severe stroke which prevented him from writing or speaking from around 1873 onward.



Subjects: ANESTHESIA › Ether, LAW and Medicine & the Life Sciences › Patents
  • 7867

A manual of etherization: Containing directions for the employment of ether, chloroform, and other anaesthetic agents, by inhalation, in surgical operations, Intended for military and naval surgeons, and all who may be exposed to surgical operations, with Instructions for the preparation of ether and chloroform, and for testing them for Impurities. comprising, also, a brief history of the discovery of anaesthesia.

Boston, MA: Published for the Author by J. B. Mansfield, 1861.

Jackson's most detailed exposition of anesthesia, including a summary of the early history of its discovery, written for American Civil War physicians and surgeons. Digital facsimile from the Internet Archive at this link.



Subjects: ANESTHESIA, ANESTHESIA › Chloroform, ANESTHESIA › Ether, ANESTHESIA › History of Anesthesia, American (U.S.) CIVIL WAR MEDICINE
  • 7646

Charles Thomas Jackson: “The head behind the hands.” Applying science to implement discovery and invention in early nineteenth century America. By Richard J. Wolfe and Richard Patterson.

Novato, CA: HistoryofScience.com, 2007.

The first biography of Jackson, the physician and geologist who discoverered of the anesthetic effects of ether, and also played an important role in the discovery of the American electro-magnetic telegraph. Forms a supplement to Wolfe's Tarnished idol: William Thomas Green Morton and the introduction of surgical anesthesia. A chronicle of the ether controversy (2001; No. 6903).



Subjects: ANESTHESIA › History of Anesthesia, BIOGRAPHY (Reference Works) › Biographies of Individuals