On this date, Dec. 14, in 1799, George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, died of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. That is according to History.com.
Acute laryngitis is not something that’s likely to kill you today but in 1799, medical “science” was still so medieval that doctors believed that diseases were caused by an imbalance of fluids in the body. In particular, they believed that fevers were caused by an excess of blood and they treated fevers by bleeding the patient.
Not surprisingly, draining off almost half of Washington’s blood not only didn’t cure him, it probably killed him.
The moral of that story is: When you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, just leave well enough alone.