Founding Physicians of the Medical College of Georgia and Their Connections to Crawford Long and the First Surgical Anesthetic

  • James B. Mayfield
    Corresponding author. Tel.: 706-721-4544; 706-721-7773.
    Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, 1120 15th St, BI-2047, Augusta, GA 30912-2700
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Published:September 06, 2019DOI:


      • On March 30, 1842, Crawford W. Long administered sulfuric ether to James M. Venable for surgery on his neck.
      • MCG founding Faculty may have influenced Crawford Long and his publication of his experience using ether for surgical anesthesia.
      • Several events in history occurred that may help us understand why Crawford Long delayed his publication.
      • It is possible that, while living, Crawford Long would have been recognized for the first use of ether for surgical anesthesia.


      Milton Antony (1789-1839), an apprenticed trained physician, began educating medical apprentices in 1826 and helped to establish the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) in 1829. Antony recruited additional faculty, Louis Dugas (anatomy and physiology), and Paul Eve (surgery), and together they worked to promote the dissemination of new medical knowledge and enhance and reform medical education. As a result of their efforts, the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal (SMSJ) was established in 1836. The SMSJ became the most successful and widely read regional medical journal. Unfortunately, upon the death of Milton Antony because of the Augusta yellow fever epidemic, the SMSJ ceased publication in 1839. Paul Eve then became Dean of MCG and revived the SMSJ in 1844.
      Crawford Long (1815-1878) administered ether anesthesia for surgical removal of a neck tumor to James Venable in 1842. For several possible reasons, he did not publish his experience with ether until after Morton’s demonstration of ether in Boston in 1846. Crawford Long did meet with Paul Eve, in Augusta at MCG, and was encouraged to publish his experiences with ether in the revived SMSJ, which he did in 1849.
      It is quite possible that if Milton Antony had lived, and the SMSJ had been continuously published, that Crawford Long may have published his use of ether well in advance of Morton’s ether demonstration in 1846. Had that occurred, the great controversy during the mid-nineteenth century over who first used ether for surgical anesthesia would not have existed, and Crawford Long would have received appropriate credit during his lifetime.
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