Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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TANNER, Henry S., physician, born about 1830. Early in 1880 much interest was manifested in the fasting power of Mollie Fancher, of Brooklyn, New York, who claimed to have lived fourteen years without food. Dr. William A. Hammond offered her $1,000 if she would allow herself to be watched for one month by relays of members of the New York neurological society, provided she did not take any food voluntarily during that period. Dr. Tanner, at that time a practising physician in Minneapolis, Minnesota, saw the challenge in print and offered to perform the experiment under the conditions. To this Dr. Hammond agreed, saying: "If he succeeds he will get $1,000, and if he dies I will give him a decent burial." Dr. Tanner then came to New York city, and after some difficulty secured the co-operation of the Neurological society in conducting the fast. It began at noon on 28 June, 1880, and continued until its successful termination on 7 August During the fast his eyes became slightly dimmed, the top of his head, which was thinly covered with gray hair, became as white as milk, and he lost ten and a half pounds in weight. The outline of his features stood out more clearly, and his lips closed more tightly. Dr. Tanner drank eighty ounces of water during the first two days, in doses ranging from six to eight ounces each, after which, in lieu of drinking, he simply gargled his mouth about once an hour. He spent the time reclining on his cot or sitting in a chair. At bedtime he took a sponge-bath and was rubbed down with coarse towels, after which he retired. Before he dressed in the morning his clothes were examined to ascertain that no food was concealed in them. His pulse and temperature were frequently taken, and his weight every day. Subsequently he lectured on fasting. Several persons have since fasted for long periods, and exhibitions of fasting have taken place both in this country and abroad. In 1888 John Zachar, residing near Racine, Wisconsin, went without food for fifty-three days, which is the longest fast known. His weight was reduced from 160 to 90 pounds.
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