Today is "Ether Day"

October 16, 2015


Ether Day, a tribute to both Horace Wells & William Morton! The controversy as to who discovered anesthesia led many to refer to the Boston Common monument as the "Either Monument".


In the early 19th century Hartford dentists Horace Wells and William Morton played instrumental roles in the development of anesthesia for dental and other medical applications.


In 1864, the American Dental Association, followed by the American Medical Association in 1870, recognized Horace Wells as the discoverer of anesthesia. Morton was never able to gain the fortune he sought for his own contributions to the field, including a $100,000 prize which was contested by Jackson and Wells’s survivors.

Although claims to singular discovery reinforce society’s fascination with individual genius, historians of science note that it is not unusual for innovations to occur at a moment when several individuals—sometimes with knowledge of each others’ efforts and sometimes not—are working along similar lines. Discovery, they emphasize, is not typically an event but a process. Wells, then, is rightly recognized for his pioneering role in pain-free dentistry and the field of medical anesthesia.

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