THE GREAT AMERICAN FRAUD
SAMUEL HOPKINS ADAMS
FROM COLLIER'S WEEKLY
Twenty Years ago the microbe was making a great stir in the
land. The public mind ever prone to exaggerate the importance and extent of any
new scientific discovery, ascribed all known diseases to microbes. The
infinitesimal creature with the mysterious and unpleasant attributes became the
leading topic of the time. Shrewdly appreciating this golden opportunity, a
quack genius named Radam invented a drug to slay the new enemy of mankind and
gave it his name. Radam's Microbe Killer filled the public prints with blazonry
of its lethal virtues. As it consisted of a mixture of muriatic and sulphuric
acid, with red wine any microbe which took it was like to fare hard; but the
ingenious Mr. Radam's method of administering it to its intended prey via the
human stomach failed to commend itself to science, though enormously successful
in a financial sense through flamboyant advertising.
Liquozone "Cures" Thirty-seven Varieties.
In time some predaceous bacillus, having eluded the
"killer," carried off it, inventor. His nostrum soon languished. Today
it is little heard of, but from the ashes of its glories has risen a mightier
successor, Liquozone. Where twenty years ago the microbe reveled in publicity,
today we talk of germs and bacteria; consequently Liquozone exploits itself as a
germicide and bactericide, It dispenses with the red wine of the Radam
concoction and relies on a weak solution of sulphuric and sulphurous acids, with
an occasional trace of hydrochloric or hydrobromic acid. Mostly it is water, and
this is what it "cures":
Liquozone bottle circa 1890-1910
‑all diseases that begin with fever all
inflammations all catarrh all contagious diseases‑all the results of
impure or poisoned blood. In nervous diseases Liquozone acts as a vitalizer,
accomplishing what no drugs can do." These diseases it conquers by
destroying, in the human body, the germs which cause (or are alleged to cause)
them. Such is Liquozone's claim.
Yet the Liquozone Company is not a patent medicine concern.
We have their word for it:
"We wish to state at the start that we are not patent
medicine men, and their methods will not be employed by us. . . . Liquozone is
too important a product for quackery."
The head and center of this non‑patent medicine
cure‑all is Douglas Smith. Mr. Smith is by profession a promoter. He is
credited with a, keen vision for profits. Several years ago he ran on a worthy
ex‑piano dealer, a Canadian by the name of Powley (we shall meet him
again, trailing clouds of glory in a splendid metamorphosis), who was selling
with some success a mixture known as Powley's Liquefied Ozone. This was
guaranteed to kill any disease germ known to science, Mr. Smith examined into
the possibilities of the product, bought out Powley
The Men Who
Back the Fake.
In the Equitable scandal there has been plenty of evidence
to show that directors often lend their names to enterprises of which they know
practically nothing. This seems to have been the case with the lawyers. One
point they brought up: was Liquozone harmful? Positively not, Douglas Smith
assured them. On the contrary, it was the greatest boon to the sick in the
world's history, and he produced an impressive bulk of testimonials. This
apparently satisfied them; they did not investigate the testimonials, but
accepted them at their face value. They did not look into the advertising
methods of the company; as nearly as I can find out, they never saw an
advertisement of Liquozone in the papers until long afterward. They just became
stockholders and directors, that is all. They did as hundreds of other upright
and well‑meaning men had done in lending themselves to a business of which
they knew practically nothing. While the lawyers continued to practice law,
‑Messrs. Smith and Hopkins were running the Liquozone Company. An enormous
advertising campaign was begun. Pamphlets were issued containing testimonials
and claiming, the soundest professional backing. Indeed, this matter of expert
testimony, chemical, medical, and bacteriologic, is a specialty of Liquozone.
Today, despite its reforms, it is supported by an ingenious system of
pseudoscientific charlatanry. In justice to Mr. Hopkins it is but fair to say
that he is not responsible for the basic fraud; that the general scheme was
devised and most of the bogus or distorted medical letters arranged before his
advent. But when I came to investigate the product a few months ago I found that
the principal defense against attacks consisted of scientific that would not
bear analysis and medical letters not worth the paper they were written on. In
the first place the Liquozone people have letters from chemists asseverating
that the compound is chemically scientific.
......................About ninetenths of one per cent.
..................About three tenths of one per cent.
........................................ Nearly ninety‑nine per cent.
Faked and Garbled Indorsements.
Messrs. Dickman, Mackenzie & Potter, of Chicago,
furnish a statement to this effect that
the product is made up on scientific
principles, contains no substance deleterious to health and is an
antiseptic and germicide of the highest order." As chemists the Dickman
firm stands high, but if Sulphuric acid is oil of vitriol. Sulphurous acid is
also a corrosive poison. Liquozone is the combination of these two heavily
diluted and sulphurous acids are not deleterious to their health there must be
something peculiar about them as human beings. Mr. Deavitt of Chicago makes
affidavit that the preparation is not made by compounding drugs. A St. Louis
bacteriologist testifies that it will kill germs (in culture tubes), and that it
has apparently brought favorable results in diarrhea, rheumatism, and a finger
which a guinea‑pig had gnawed. These and other technical endorsements are
set forth with great pomp and circumstance, but when analyzed they fail to bear
out the claims of Liquozone as a medicine. Any past investigation into the
nature of Liquozone has brought a flood of "indorsements" down on the
investigator, many of them medical My inquiries have been largely along medical
lines, because the makers of the drug the private support of many physicians and
medical institutions, an,, such testimony is the most convincing.
"Liquozone has the indorsement of an overwhelming number of medical
authorities," says one of the pamphlets.
One of the enclosures sent to me was a letter from a, young
physician on the staff of the Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago, who was paid $25
to make bacteriologic tests in pure cultures. He reported: "This is to
certify that the fluid Liquozone handed to me for bacteriologic examination has
shown bacteriologic and germicidal properties." At the same time lie
informed the Liquozone agent that the mixture would be worthless medicinally. He
writes me a‑, follows: "I have never used or indorsed Liquozone;
furthermore, its action would be harmful when taken internally. Can report a
case of gastric ulcer due probably to its use."
Later in my investigations I came ‑on this
certificate again. It was quoted, in a report on Liquozone, made by the bead of
a prominent Chicago laboratory for a medical journal, and it was designated,
"Report made by the Michael Reese Hospital," without comment or
investigation. This surprising garbling of the facts may have been due to
carelessness, or it may have some connection with the fact that the laboratory
investigator was about that time employed to do work for Mr. Douglas Smith,
Another document is an enthusiastic "puff" of
Liquozone, quoted as being contributed by Dr, H. W. Myers in The New York
Journal of Health There is not nor ever has been any such magazine as The New
York Journal of Health Dr. H.W.. Myers, or ,some person masquerading under that
name got out a bogus "dummy" (fix publication only, and not as a
guarantee of good faith). at a small charge to the Liquozone people.
For convenience. I list several letters quoted or
seat to me, with the result of investigations.
The Suffolk Hospital and Dispensary of Boston,
through its president, Albert C. Smith, writes: "Our test show., it
(Liquozone) to possess great remedial value." The letter I have found to be
genuine. But the hospital medical authorities say they know nothing of Liquozone
and never prescribe it, If President Smith is prescribing it be is liable to
arrest, as lie is not an M.D.
A favoring letter, from "Dr." Fred W.
Porter of Tampa, Fla., is quoted. The Liquozone recipients of the letter forgot
to mention that "Dr." Porter is not an M.D., but a veterinary surgeon,
as is shown by his letter head,
Dr George E. Bliss of Maple Rapids, Mich., has used
Liquozone for cancer patients. Dr. Bliss writes me, under the flaming headline
of his "cancer cure," that his letter is genuine, and "not
Dr. A. A. Bell of Madison, Ga., is quoted as saving:
"I found Liquozone to invigorate digestion." He is not quoted
(although he wrote it) as saying that his own personal experience with it bad
shown it to be ineffective. I have seen the original letter, and the unfavorable
part of it was blue penciled.
For a local indorsement of any medicine, perhaps as strong
a name as could be secured in Chicago is that of Dr. Frank Billings. In the
offices of Collier's and elsewhere Dr. Billings has been cited by the Liquozone
people as one of those medical men who were prevented, only by ethical
considerations from publicly indorsing their nostrum, but who nevertheless,
privately avowed confidence in it. Here is what Dr. Billings has to say of this:
CHICAGO, ILL., July 31, 1905.
To the Editor of Collier's Weekly:
Dear Sir.I have never recommended Liquozone in any way to
any one, nor
have I expressed to any representative of the Liquozone
Company, or to any
other person, an opinion favorable to Liquozone.
FRANK BILLINGS, M.D.
Under the heading, "Some Chicago Institutions which
Constantly Employ Liquozone," are cited Hull House, the Chicago Orphan
Asylum, the Home for Incurables, the Evanston Hospital, and the Old People's
Letters to the institutions elicited the information that
Hull House had never used the nostrum. and had protested against the statement;
that the Orphan Asylum had experimented with it only for external applications,
and with such dubious results that it was soon dropped; that it had been shut
out of the Home for Incurables that a few private patients in the Old People's
Home had purchased it, but on no recommendation from the physicians; and that
the Evanston Hospital knew nothing of a Liquozone and hadnever used it.
Having a professional interest in the "overwhelming
number of medical indorsements" claimed by Liquozone, a Chicago physician.
Dr. W. If. Felton. went to the company's offices and asked to see the medical
evidence. None was forthcoming; the lists, lie was informed were ill the press
and could not be shown. He then asked for the official book for physicians
advertised by the firm containing "a great deal of evidence from
authorities whom all physicians respect."' This also, they said, was
"in the press." As a matter of fact, it has never come out of the
press and never will; the special book project has been dropped.
One more claim and I am done with the "scientific
evidence" In a. pamphlet issued by the company and since withdrawn, occurs
this sprightly sketch:
"Liquozone is the discovery of Professor Pauli, the
great German chemist, who worked for twenty years to learn bow to liquefy
oxygen. When Pauli first mentioned his purpose me laughed at him The idea of
liquefying gas ‑ of circulating a liquid oxygen in the blood‑seemed
impossible. Ili‑it Pauli was one of those men who set their whole hearts
on a problem and follow it out either to success or to the grave. So Pauli
followed out this problem though it took twenty years. lie clung to it through
discouragements which would have led any lesser man to abandon it. He worked on
it despite poverty and ridicule," etc.
a Great German Scientist.
Alas for romance! The scathing blight of the legal mind
descended on this touching story. The lawyer‑di rectors would have none of
"Professor Pauli, the great German chemist," and Liquozone destroyed
him, as it had created him. Not totally destroyed, however, for from those
rainbow wrapping,;, now dissipated, emerges the humble but genuine figure of our
old acquaintance, Mr: Rowley, the ex‑piano man of Toronto. He is the
prototype of the Teutonic ‑,Event. So much the Liquozone people now admit,
with the defense that the change, of Rowley to Pauli was, at most a harmless
flight of fancy, "so long as we were not attempting to use it name famous
in medicine or bacteriology in order to add prestige to the product." A
plea which commends itself by its ingeniousness it least.
Gone is '*Professor Pauli," and with him much of his
kingdom lies. lit fact, I believe there is no single definite intentional
misstatement in the
All Ills Look
Alike to, Liquozone.
Just as to Peruna .111 ills are catarrh, so to Liquozone
every disease is a germ disease. Every statement in the new prospectus of cure
"has Advertisements of a "remedy" which has been fighting
Liquozone as an "Imitator," and which here makes a claim as extreme as
any ever put forth by the Chicago sulphuric‑acid mixture.
been submitted to competent authorities, and is exactly
true and correct," declares the recently issued pamphlet, "Liquozone
and Tonic Germicide;" and the pamphlet goes on to ascribe, among other
ills, asthma, gout, neuralgia dyspepsia, goiter. and "most forms of kidney,
liver and heart troubles" to germs. I don't know just which of the eminent
authorities who have been working for the Liqnozone Company fathers this
remarkable and epoch making discovery. It might be Professor Pauli, or perhaps
the sulphuric acid‑proof firm of Dickman & Mackenzie. Whoever it is
ought to make the definite facts public, in the interests of humanity as well as
their own. Monuments of discarded pill boxes will celebrate the Liquozone savant
who has determined that dyspepsia is a germ trouble. The discovery that gout is
caused by the bite of a bacillus and not by uric acid is almost as important an
addition to the sum of human knowledge as the determination of a definite
organism that produces the twinges of neuralgia, while the germ of heart disease
will be acclaimed with whoops of welcome from the entire medical profession.
Unfortunately, the writer of the Liquozone pamphlet and the
experts who edited it, got a little mixed on their ger in file matter of
malaria. "Liquozone is deadly to vegetable matter, lint helpful to
animals," declares the pamphlet . . . . .. Germs are
vegetables"‑and that is the reason that Liquozone kills them. But
malaria, which Liquozone is supposed to cure, is positively known to be due to
animal organisms in the blood, not vegetable. Therefore, if the claims are
genuine, Liquozone, being "helpful to animals," will aid and abet the
malaria organism in his nefarious work, and the Liquozone Company, as
well‑intentioned men, working in the interests of health, ought to warn
all sufferers of this class from use of their animal ‑stimulator.
The old claim is repeated that nothing enters into the
production of Liquozone but gases, water and a little harmless coloring matter,
and that the process requires large apparatus and from eight to fourteen days'
time. I have seen the apparatus, consisting of huge wooden vats, and call
testify to their impressive size. And I have the assurance of several gentlemen
whose word (except in print) I am willing to take, that fourteen days' time is
employed in impregnating every output of liquid with a.,;. The result, so far as
can be determined chemically or medicinally is precisely the same as could be
achieved in fourteen seconds by mixing the acids with the water. The product is
still sulphurous and sulphuric acid heavily diluted, that is all.
Will the compound destroy germs in the body? This is, after
all, the one overwhelmingly important point for determination; for if it will,
all the petty fakers and forgery, the liquid oxygen and Professor Pauli and the
mythical medical journalism may be forgiven. For more than four months now
Collier's has been patiently awaiting some proof of the internal germicidal
qualities of Liquozone. None has been forthcoming except specious generalities
from scientific employees of the company‑and testimonials The value of
testimonials as evidence is considered in a later article. Liquozone's are not
more convincing than others. Of the chemists and bacteriologists employed by the
Liquozone Company there is not one who will risk his professional reputation oil
the simple and essential statement that Liquozone taken internally kills germs
in the human system. One experiment has been made by Mr. Schoen of Chicago,
which I am asked to regard as indicating in some degree a deterrent action of
Liquozone on the disease of the anthrax. Of two guinea‑pigs inoculated
with anthrax oil', which was dosed with Liquozone survived the other, not thus
treated, by several hours. Bacteriologists employed by us to make a similar test
failed because of the surprising fact that the dose as prescribed by Mr. Schoen
promptly killed the first guinea‑pig to which it was administered. A
series of guinea‑pig tests was then arranged (the guinea‑pig is the
animal which responds to germ infection most nearly as the human organism
responds), at which Dr. Gradwohl representing the Liquozone Company, was
present, and in which he took part. The report follows;
Chemical and Bacteriologic Investigations.
NEW YORK CITY.
Anthrax Test, Twenty‑four guinea‑pigs
were inoculated with anthrax bacilli, tinder the same conditions, the same
amount being given to each. The representative of the Liquozone people selected
the twelve pigs for treatment. These animals were given Liquozone in 5 c.c.
doses for three hours. In twenty‑four hours all Pigs were dead‑the
treated and the untreated ones.
Second Anthrax Test. Eight guinea‑pigs were
inoculated under the same conditions with a culture of anthrax sent by the
Liquozone people. Four of these animals were treated for three hours with
Liquozone as in the last experiments. These died also In from thirty‑six
to forty‑eight hours, as did the remaining four.
Diphtheria Test. Six guinea‑pigs were
inoculate(] with diphtheria bacilli and treated with Liquozone. The ' y all died
in from forty‑eight to seventy‑two hours, Two out of three controls
(I. e., untreated guinea‑pigs) remained alive after receiving the same
amount of culture.
Tuberculosis Test. Eight guinea‑pigs were
inoculated with tubercle bacilli. Four of these animals were treated for eight
hours with 5 c.c. of a 20 per cent solution of Liquozone Four received Do
Liquozone. At the end of twentyfour days all the animals were killed.
Fairly developed tuberculosis was present in all.
To summarize, we would say that the Liquozone had
absolute],%‑ no curative effect, but did. when given in pure form, lower
the resistance of the animals, so that they died a little earlier than those not
By Ernst J.
representing the Liquozone Company, stated that lie was satisfied of the
fairness of the tests. He further declared That in his opinion the tests had
proved satisfactorily the total ineffectiveness of Liquozone as an internal
germicide, but these experiments show more than that. They show that in so far
as Liquozone has any effect.. it tends to lower the resistance of the body to an
invading disease. That is, in the very germ diseases for which it is advocated,
Liquozone may decrease the chances of the patient's
is I ,with
every dose that is swallowed, but certainly would not increase them.
III its own field Liquozone is sui generis. On the ethical
side, however, there are a few "internal germicides," and one of these
comes in for mention here, not that it is the least like Liquozone in its
composition, but because by it‑, monstrous claim‑, it challenges
Since the all announcement lice] of this article, and before, Collier*8 has. been in receipt
of much virtuous indignation from a manufacturer of remedies which, lie claims,
Liquozone copies. Charles Marchand has been the most active enemy of the Douglas
Smith product, He has attacked the makers in print, organized a society, and
established a publication mainly devoted to their destruction, and circulated
far and wide injurious literature (most of it true) about their product. Of the
relative merits of Hydrozone, Glycozone Marchand's products), and Liquozone, I
know nothing; but I know that the Liquozone Company has never in its history put
forth so shameful an advertisement as the one produced on page 28, signed by
Marchand, and printed in the New Orleans States when the vellow fever scare was
at its height.
And Hydrozone is an "ethical" remedy; its
advertisements are to be found in reputable medical journals.
The Same Old
Partly by reason of Marchand's energy, no nostrum in the
country has been so widely attacked as the Chicago product, Occasional deaths,
attributed (in some cases unjustly) to its use, have been made the most of, and
scores of analyses have been printed, so that in all parts of the country the
true nature of the nostrum is beginning to be understood. The prominence of its
advertising and the reckless breadth of its claims have made it a shining mark.
North Dakota has forbidden its sale. San Francisco has decreed against it; so
has Lexington, Ky., and there are signs that it will have a fight for its life
soon in other cities. It is this looming danger that impelled Liquozone to an
attempted reform last summer. Yet, in spite of the censorship of its legal
lights, in spite of the revision of its literature by its scientific experts, in
spite of its ingenious avoidance of specifically false claims in the advertising
which is being scattered broadcast today,, Liquozone is now what it was before
its rehabilitation. a fraud which owes its continued existence to the laxity of
our public health methods and tile cynical tolerance of the national conscience.