The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Morton, William James

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MORTON, William James, American physician: b. Boston, 3 July 1845. He is a son of W. T. G. Morton (q.v.), whose name is connected with the first anæsthetic use of ether. He was educated at the Boston Latin School, Harvard University and Vienna. On his graduation there, in 1872, his thesis on “Anæsthetics,” gained him the Boylston prize. He practised medicine at Bar Harbor, Me., and in Boston; went to Kimberley, South Africa, where, besides practising his profession, he engaged in diamond-mining. Settling in New York he became editor of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases; from 1882-85 was adjunct professor of nervous diseases at the New York Post-Graduate Medical School; served as neurologist to the New York Infant Asylum, 1887-90; and was afterward professor of nervous diseases and electrotherapeutics at the New York Post-Graduate School. As an authority in electrotherapeutics he has won wide recognition, and by his mechanical device for establishing the “static induced current” of electricity — the “Morton current” of the scientific world — has supplied a means for producing the X-ray, and rendered a service of great practical value to medicine and surgery. Indicted in January 1912, in association with Julian Hawthorne and others, on a charge of fraudulent use of the mails in the promotion of bogus mining companies, conviction followed nearly a year after; he was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, but was released in October 1913, pardoned by the President and reinstated in his profession.