Left For Dead


“In Anderson, South Carolina, in 1839 a group seized a black boy and forced him to inhale ether from a handkerchief that was held over his mouth and nose. Soon the boy became motionless and unconscious and was feared dead. However, after an hour he revived, no worse for his alarming experience.”

“Robert Hinckley’s The First Operation Under Ether, an oil painting that dominates one wall of Harvard’s Frances A. Countway Library of Medicine, shows ether being administered to a supine white male attended by impeccably clad physicians in a theater holding tiers of enraptured doctors.”

“This stately image is a beautiful fiction with a brutally factual negative: The body of a black slave seized by laughing medical thugs, forced to inhale ether, and left for dead in the road.”

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington

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