- from Germs
Back when scientists and doctors knew nothing about germs, they could only guess at how to cure illness.
On December 14, 1799, for instance, George Washington came down with a sore throat and fever. His physicians followed the wisdom of the day. They drained two quarts of blood from him and had him swallow such potions as vinegar mixed with tea. This probably contributed to his death later that same day.
Yet even before Washington’s death, medical science was beginning to find ways to beat germs. Thanks in part to those advances, the average person today can expect to live more than 40 years longer than the average person in 1799.