Horace Wells was a dentist by trade, born in Vermont and practicing in Connecticut. He was known for his introduction of anesthesia into dental work, particularly by using nitrous oxide (laughing gas). He was introduced to chloroform by having it given to him as part of a demonstration by a circus performer.
He later used chloroform to have his own tooth extracted, as well as on his patients for pain. Wells never patented his use for chloroform because he wanted it to be available to as many people as possible.
He didn’t think anyone should have to feel unnecessary pain. He also tried to demonstrate his technique to medical students. Unfortunately, the chloroform was improperly given to a patient and the patient cried out. Wells was jeered off the stage. Wells gave up dentistry and worked as a traveling salesman.
Meanwhile, he got addicted to chloroform, especially when he experimented with it on himself. He went crazy and ended up in prison after throwing sulfuric acid on some prostitutes.
Wells, now off chloroform, felt guilty for what he’d done. He asked to be taken home from prison to get his shaving kit. He then committed suicide by slitting an artery in his leg and self-administering chloroform for the pain.