Charles T. Jackson and William T.G. Morton Patented the “Ethereal Solution of Opium” of Elton Romeo Smilie

Published:January 17, 2018DOI:


      • The Jackson-Morton patent included the possibility of adding opium to sulphuric ether for inhalation.
      • Using sulphuric ether to volatilize opiates was the misguided idea of Elton Romeo Smilie, a competitor in the discovery of ether for surgical anesthesia.
      • The Jackson-Morton patent of 1846 affirmed the previously known anesthetic properties of ether and made three claims of novelty.


      The Jackson-Morton 1846 patent for surgical insensibility by means of sulphuric ether states that opiates can be added to the ether and co-administered by inhalation. The erroneous concept that ether could carry opiates in its vapor phase at room temperature was proposed in Boston in 1846 by Elton Romeo Smilie (1819-1889), who believed that the opiates were more important than the ether vehicle.


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