Hancock's Uphill Battle


 “Transfusion of Blood—Is It Too Late?”
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   October 2, 1880, p. 637

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This grim, scary cartoon depicts presidential nominee Winfield Hancock's attempt to revive the moribund Democratic party as a desperate and dangerous venture that is almost certainly doomed to failure. The first successful blood transfusion between humans occurred in 1795 (although it was not immediately publicized), and the medical procedure was used in the United States during an outbreak of Asiatic cholera in 1832. During the 19th century, though, it remained an uncommon and risky practice. Medical societies and researchers worked toward better and safer techniques, but it was not until the 1920s that the first anticoagulant was developed and refrigeration for storage was used. Further improvements were made over the years, particularly spurred by the massive number of casualties in World War II, after which blood transfusions became a standard practice. The imagery of this cartoon must have been shocking to some viewers and a wonder to nearly all.

In the background, through the window, are the cannons of Fort Columbus (today, Fort Jay), Governor's Island, where Hancock was stationed as commander of the U.S. Army's Atlantic Division. On the floor (left-front), is the general's detachable shirt-cuff, which has been removed for the blood transfusion.













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