• History;
  • head and neck cancer;
  • Civil War;
  • John Hancock Douglas, MD


Objectives/Hypothesis: Many of the hallmarks of a very successful medical career, such as recognition as a leader in a field of medicine, making important contributions to medical knowledge of the day, and a steadfast dedication to patient care, had already been achieved by Dr. John Hancock Douglas. Therefore, the mystery surrounding his dismissal from membership of the newly formed American Laryngology Society (now the ALA) and his tragic demise stand in stark contrast. We discuss the model professional life and mysterious but tragic final days of this very important laryngologist of the 19th century.

Study Design/Methods: A historical vignette.

Results: Dr. Douglas's professional qualities of leadership of the American Sanitary Commission, his various contributions to the advancement of medical knowledge during that era, and his steadfast dedication to the care of his patients represent highlights of a very honorable professional career. His final demise, bankrupt, in an ill state of health, and stripped of his professional appointment to the ALA, seems an unjust end to the life of this notable and magnanimous laryngologist.

Conclusions: We offer this historical review of the life and demise of Dr. John H. Douglas as a tribute to this important figure in our profession's history.