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Bloodletting

Following a ride in blistering cold weather, George Washington awoke at 2 a.m. on December 14, 1799, with a fever, sore throat, and respiratory difficulties. A believer in the healing powers of bloodletting, Washington asked to be bled. After a series of medical procedures, including blisterings, emetics, laxatives, and the draining of nearly 40 percent of his blood, Washington died that evening, of what has been diagnosed retrospectively as epiglottitis and shock.

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