On December 14, 1799, George Washington died. A few days later, William Thornton – the architect who designed the U.S. Capitol – visited the widow Martha Washington. Did Thornton offer to turn President Washington into a zombie?
Did President George Washington almost become a Zombie?
Yes, in a manner of speaking. Richard Thornton did offer to reanimate the deceased President, in effect turning him into a zombie. Specifically, he proposed to thaw Washington’s frozen body and then warm it up by rubbing it with blankets. Next, he wanted to perform a tracheotomy on the neck of George Washington and insert a fire bellows into it. This would, he believed, allow him to pump air back into Washington’s lungs. Finally, he would give George Washington a blood transfusion. But not just any transfusion. He wanted to use lamb’s blood which at the time was considered to have special healing properties. The procedure was never performed however, as Washington’s friends and family declined.
George Washington may have been America’s first president, but was he nearly America’s first zombie-in-chief? If William Thornton, physician and designer of the US Capitol, had had his way, Washington’s body would have been subjected a scientific experiment designed to bring the deceased former president back to life.
…But Washington’s body was not buried immediately after his death. The president may not have feared death, but he did fear being buried alive. Before he died, he commanded his secretary, Tobias Lear, to make sure that he would not be entombed less than three days after he died. In accordance with Washington’s wishes, his body was put on ice until it could be moved to the family vault.
That’s where the story gets a little strange.