The Bizarre Plan To Resurrect George Washington

“There is a Destiny which has the control of our actions, not to be resisted by the strongest efforts of Human Nature.” —George Washington

In A Nutshell

After George Washington died, his physician and close friend, William Thornton, announced a bizarre plan to revive the deceased president. He proposed thawing Washington’s frozen body, introducing air into his lungs through a hole in his trachea, and giving him a transfusion of warm lamb’s blood. Luckily, his morbid offer was declined.

The Whole Bushel

By all accounts, George Washington was a courageous soldier. During the Revolutionary War, he had two horses shot out from under him, and his coat was tattered by bullets that just missed him. Had he been captured by the British, he would most assuredly have been executed. But while he did not seem to fear death, he did fear the prospect of being buried alive. It was a reasonable concern at the time; history reports cases of coffins found clawed by those unfortunate souls thought dead before their time.

On Thursday December 12, 1799, the former President was enjoying his retirement, touring the grounds of his plantation on horseback. The weather was terrible, and even after returning to his home, he did not bother to quickly remove his cold, wet clothing. He soon became ill and took to his bed. Three doctors came to visit him, each prescribing a regimen of bloodletting, which Washington himself wholeheartedly endorsed. Within a few hours, they’d drained him of half the blood in his body and his condition deteriorated. Realizing he would soon pass, he thanked the men for their help and told his personal secretary Colonel Tobias Lear “I am just going. Have me decently buried and do not let my body be put into the vault less than three days after I am dead. Do you understand me? ’Tis well.” These would be his final words.

Another doctor had been summoned when Washington took ill, a gentleman named William Thornton, a polymath who was trained in the best medical schools of Europe. Thornton’s best-remembered role in history would be as the architect of the United States Capitol building. In his papers, he described Washington as “the best friend I had on Earth,” and rushed to be by his side. Unfortunately, Thornton did not make it. By the time he arrived, Washington’s body had been frozen.

Thornton was undaunted, and he proposed a Frankenstein’s monster experiment to resurrect the first President of the United States. Thornton wrote: “I proposed to attempt his restoration, in the following manner. First to thaw him in cold water, then to lay him in blankets, & by degrees & by friction to give him warmth, and to put into activity the minute blood vessels, at the same time to open a passage to the Lungs by the Trachaea, and to inflate them with air, to produce an artificial respiration, and to transfuse blood into him from a lamb.”

This experiment was not as bizarre as it sounds. The science of transfusions was in its infancy at the time, and lambs were the go-to animals for the procedure, thought to possess a remarkable vitality. To Thornton’s consternation, Washington’s widow declined to allow her husband’s corpse this indignity.

Show Me The Proof

The Permanente Journal: The Asphyxiating and Exsanguinating Death of President George Washington
George Washington’s Mount Vernon: Death Defied
News Medical: History of Blood Transfusion

  • Check

    How morbid. Can you imagine what it would have been like if Thornton went through with it? An indignity, indeed. Such a desecration would have just been a waste of effort, time, and a whole lot of money (and lambs), because we know it would not have worked. Or, maybe it would have, and we would have proof that the Freemasons truly had power of the supernatural kind. Lol!

  • N Mulgrave

    They should have tried this on Kennedy.

    • Nathaniel A.

      Using what head?

      • christiaan ungerer

        hahah, don’t forget the brain… lol

        • Nathaniel A.

          At least President Washington had an intact body when he died.

          • christiaan ungerer

            yup ulike Abraham Lincoln and the above mentioned jfk

      • N Mulgrave

        He wouldn’t really need one because he was dead. But they should have tried this experiment anyway.
        For shits and giggles.

        • christiaan ungerer

          we all enjoy a little bit of shit and a little bit of giggles my friend…imagine mount zombie Rushmore….i want to eat you brains……… not you jfk… go sit in the corner… good zombie..

    • 1DireWolf

      Jackie was holding part of his brain. There was nothing that could have been done.

  • Ryan

    It all made sense until the “lamb blood”. Everyone knows that you need horse or better.

    • MC Wong

      Nope, cat blood should work, they have 9 lives.

  • percynjpn

    Was it common to freeze human corpses in the 18th century?

    • Ray

      It was winter when George Washington died. That’s probably why he was frozen.

      • percynjpn

        Aaah – hadn’t thought of that!

        • lbatfish

          And I guess that would also blow a big hole in the alien abduction theory.

          • inconspicuous detective


    • Andy West

      Only if you weren’t going to be eating them for them straight away.

  • oouchan

    It was weird then, and weird now. Dead is dead….otherwise it’s a zombie. Can you imagine it? Washington…..the 1st zombie?


  • Scott

    It could have worked.

  • charmerboy

    Sure would have been interesting to see if the man would have had a preference for grazing when its dinner time.

  • Adeola Oluwapelumi Orekoya

    this should have been used on GEN. sanni abacha………..i guess some nigerians would have loved it !

  • UN

    Old saying but I think fits well ” with friends like these who needs enemies “

    • lbatfish

      “Enemies”? And not “enemas”?

      Hmmm . . . well, I guess that would explain some of the funny looks that I’ve gotten when I’ve used that phrase . . . .

      • Andy West

        ‘With beans like Heinz who needs enemas?’

  • RadiationActivation

    I walked out of the bar and saw a lamb-morphed George Washington!

  • RadiationActivation

    Once your brain is dead, your dead, even if your heart is still beating. Ironic, as it is called “brain death.”