P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum

Overview
Phineas Taylor Barnum was an American showman
Showman
Showman can have a variety of meanings, usually by context and depending on the country.- Australia :Travelling showmen are people who run amusement and side show equipment at regional shows, state capital shows, events and festivals throughout Australia...

, businessman, scam artist
Confidence trick
A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. A confidence artist is an individual working alone or in concert with others who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility,...

 and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

es and for founding the circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

 that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American circus company. The company was started when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses...

.

His successes may have made him the first "show business" millionaire. Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me," and his personal aims were "to put money in his own coffers." Barnum is widely but erroneously credited with coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute
There's a sucker born every minute
"There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often credited to P. T. Barnum , an American showman. It is generally taken to mean that there will always be many gullible people in the world.-Attribution to Barnum:...

."

Born in Bethel, Connecticut
Bethel, Connecticut
Bethel is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States, about sixty miles from New York City. Its population was 18,584 at the 2010 census. The town center is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census-designated place...

, Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly newspaper, before moving to New York City in 1834.
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The plan of "counting the chickens before they are hatched" is an error of ancient date, but it does not seem to improve by age.

Ch. 10: "Let hope predominate but be not too visionary"

Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business.

Ch. 17: "Be polite and kind to your customers"

The best kind of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves.

Ch. 18: "Be charitable"

In fact, as a general thing, money-getters are the benefactors of our race.

Ch. 20: "Preserve your integrity"

The desire for wealth is nearly universal, and none can say it is not laudable, provided the possessor of it accepts its responsibilities, and uses it as a friend to humanity.

Ch. 20: "Preserve your integrity"
Encyclopedia
Phineas Taylor Barnum was an American showman
Showman
Showman can have a variety of meanings, usually by context and depending on the country.- Australia :Travelling showmen are people who run amusement and side show equipment at regional shows, state capital shows, events and festivals throughout Australia...

, businessman, scam artist
Confidence trick
A confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. A confidence artist is an individual working alone or in concert with others who exploits characteristics of the human psyche such as dishonesty and honesty, vanity, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility,...

 and entertainer, remembered for promoting celebrated hoax
Hoax
A hoax is a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth. It is distinguishable from errors in observation or judgment, or rumors, urban legends, pseudosciences or April Fools' Day events that are passed along in good faith by believers or as jokes.-Definition:The British...

es and for founding the circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

 that became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American circus company. The company was started when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses...

.

His successes may have made him the first "show business" millionaire. Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me," and his personal aims were "to put money in his own coffers." Barnum is widely but erroneously credited with coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute
There's a sucker born every minute
"There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often credited to P. T. Barnum , an American showman. It is generally taken to mean that there will always be many gullible people in the world.-Attribution to Barnum:...

."

Born in Bethel, Connecticut
Bethel, Connecticut
Bethel is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States, about sixty miles from New York City. Its population was 18,584 at the 2010 census. The town center is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census-designated place...

, Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly newspaper, before moving to New York City in 1834. He embarked on an entertainment career, first with a variety troupe
Variety show
A variety show, also known as variety arts or variety entertainment, is an entertainment made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and normally introduced by a compère or host. Other types of acts include magic, animal and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling...

 called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater," and soon after by purchasing Scudder's American Museum
Barnum's American Museum
Barnum's American Museum was located at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street in New York City, USA, from 1841 to 1865. The museum was owned by famous showman P.T. Barnum and his partner and original owner, John Scudder. Prior to their partnership, the museum was known as Scudder's American...

, which he renamed after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the '"Feejee" mermaid
Fiji mermaid
The Fiji mermaid was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, covered in papier-mâché...

' and "General Tom Thumb
General Tom Thumb
General Tom Thumb was the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton , a dwarf who achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum.-Early life:...

." In 1850 he promoted the American tour
Jenny Lind tour of America, 1850–52
The Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, often known as the "Swedish Nightingale" was one of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century. At the height of her fame she was persuaded by the showman P.T. Barnum to undertake a long tour of the United States. The tour began in September 1850 and...

 of singer Jenny Lind
Jenny Lind
Johanna Maria Lind , better known as Jenny Lind, was a Swedish opera singer, often known as the "Swedish Nightingale". One of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, she is known for her performances in soprano roles in opera in Sweden and across Europe, and for an extraordinarily...

, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights.

After economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, and years of litigation and public humiliation, he used a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, to emerge from debt. His museum added America's first aquarium
Aquarium
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

 and expanded the wax figure
Wax museum
A wax museum or waxworks consists of a collection of wax sculptures representing famous people from history and contemporary personalities exhibited in lifelike poses....

 department.

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield
Fairfield, Connecticut
Fairfield is a town located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It is bordered by the towns of Bridgeport, Trumbull, Easton, Redding and Westport along the Gold Coast of Connecticut. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 59,404...

. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

 over slavery and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab
or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit." As mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut he worked to improve the water supply, bring gaslight
Gaslight
Gaslight may refer to:* Gas lighting, the use of flammable gas such as natural gas as a light source* Gaslighting, a form of psychological abuse* Gas Light a Patrick Hamilton stage play...

ing to streets, and to enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital
Bridgeport Hospital
Bridgeport Hospital is a private, not-for-profit general medical and surgical hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It is a member of the Yale New Haven Health System, and affiliated with the Yale University School of Medicine.-Description:...

, founded in 1878, and was its first president.

The circus business was the source of much of his enduring fame. He established "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome," a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks
Freak show
A freak show is an exhibition of biological rarities, referred to as "freaks of nature". Typical features would be physically unusual humans, such as those uncommonly large or small, those with both male and female secondary sexual characteristics, people with other extraordinary diseases and...

," which adopted many names over the years.

Barnum died in his sleep at home on April 7, 1891 and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport
Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport
Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, was laid out in 1849 in a park-like, rural setting away from the center of the city.The cemetery was designed by P. T. Barnum, who himself is buried there.-Notable interments:...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, a cemetery he designed.

Early life and career


Barnum was born in Bethel
Bethel, Connecticut
Bethel is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States, about sixty miles from New York City. Its population was 18,584 at the 2010 census. The town center is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a census-designated place...

, Connecticut, the son of inn keeper, tailor and store-keeper Philo Barnum (1778–1826) and second wife Irene Taylor. He was the third great grandson of Thomas Barnum (1625–1695), the immigrant ancestor of the Barnum family in North America. His maternal grandfather Phineas Taylor was a Whig, legislator, landowner, justice of the peace, and lottery schemer, and he had a great influence on his favorite grandson. Barnum was adept at arithmetic but hated physical work. He started as a store-keeper, and he learned haggling and using deception to make a sale. He was involved with the first lottery mania in the United States. He married Charity Hallett when he was 19.

The young husband had several businesses: a general store, a book auctioning trade, real estate speculation, and a state-wide lottery network. He became active in local politics and advocated against blue law
Blue law
A blue law is a type of law, typically found in the United States and, formerly, in Canada, designed to enforce religious standards, particularly the observance of Sunday as a day of worship or rest, and a restriction on Sunday shopping...

s promulgated by Calvinists who sought to restrict gambling and travel. Barnum started a weekly paper in 1829, The Herald of Freedom
The Herald of Freedom
The Herald of Freedom, established 1829, was a newspaper published by P T Barnum based in Danbury, Connecticut. The newspaper was created in reaction against the religious oppression and militant Calvinism Barnum had grown up with....

, in Danbury, Connecticut
Danbury, Connecticut
Danbury is a city in northern Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It had population at the 2010 census of 80,893. Danbury is the fourth largest city in Fairfield County and is the seventh largest city in Connecticut....

. His editorials against church elders led to libel suits and a prosecution which resulted in imprisonment for two months, but he became a champion of the liberal movement upon his release. In 1834, when lotteries were banned in Connecticut, cutting off his main income, Barnum sold his store and moved to New York City. In 1835 he began as a showman with his purchase and exhibition of a blind and almost completely paralyzed slave woman, Joice Heth
Joice Heth
Joice Heth was an African American slave who was exhibited by P. T. Barnum with the claim that she was the 161-year-old nursing "mammy" of George Washington.-Biography:Little is known of Heth's earlier life. The promoter R. W...

, claimed by Barnum to have been George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

's nurse, and to be over 160 years old.

Funhouse showman


Joice Heth died in 1836, no more than 80 years old. After a year of mixed success with his first variety troupe called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater," followed by the Panic of 1837
Panic of 1837
The Panic of 1837 was a financial crisis or market correction in the United States built on a speculative fever. The end of the Second Bank of the United States had produced a period of runaway inflation, but on May 10, 1837 in New York City, every bank began to accept payment only in specie ,...

 and three years of difficult circumstances, he purchased Scudder's American Museum
Barnum's American Museum
Barnum's American Museum was located at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street in New York City, USA, from 1841 to 1865. The museum was owned by famous showman P.T. Barnum and his partner and original owner, John Scudder. Prior to their partnership, the museum was known as Scudder's American...

, at Broadway and Ann Street
Ann Street (Manhattan)
Ann Street is a 3-block long street located in the Financial District of the New York City borough of Manhattan just south of City Hall.- History :-Early history:...

, New York City, in 1841. Barnum improved the attraction, renamed "Barnum's American Museum," upgrading the building and adding exhibits, and it became a popular showplace. Barnum added a lighthouse lamp which attracted attention up and down Broadway and flags along the roof's edge that attracted attention in daytime. From between the upper windows, giant paintings of animals drew stares from pedestrians. The roof was transformed to a strolling garden with a view of the city, where he launched hot-air balloon rides daily. A changing series of live acts and curiosities, including albinos, giants, midgets, "fat boys," jugglers, magicians, "exotic women," detailed models of cities and famous battles, and, eventually, a menagerie of animals were added to the exhibits of stuffed animals.

Feejee mermaid and Tom Thumb



In 1842, Barnum introduced his first major hoax, a creature with the head of a monkey and the tail of a fish, known as the "Feejee" mermaid
Fiji mermaid
The Fiji mermaid was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, covered in papier-mâché...

. Barnum leased the "mermaid" from fellow museum owner Moses Kimball
Moses Kimball
Moses Kimball was a U.S. politician and showman. Kimball was a close associate of P. T. Barnum, and public-spirited citizen of Boston, Massachusetts.-Biography:...

 of Boston. Kimball became his friend, confidant, and collaborator. Barnum described his hoaxes and justified the act of perpetrating them by saying they were "advertisements to draw attention...to the Museum. I don't believe in duping the public, but I believe in first attracting and then pleasing them." Later, he crusaded against fraudsters (see below). Barnum followed that with the exhibition of Charles Stratton, the dwarf "General Tom Thumb
General Tom Thumb
General Tom Thumb was the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton , a dwarf who achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum.-Early life:...

" ("the Smallest Person that ever Walked Alone") who was then four years of age but was stated to be 11. With heavy coaching and natural talent, the boy was taught to imitate people from Hercules to Napoleon. By five, he was drinking wine and by seven smoking cigars for the public's amusement. Though exploited, Tom Thumb enjoyed his job and had a good relationship with Barnum free of bitterness.

In year 1843 Barnum quit the traditional Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 dancer fu-Hum-Me, the first of many Native Americans he presented. During 1844–45, Barnum toured with Tom Thumb in Europe and met Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

, who was amused and saddened by the little man, and the event was a publicity coup. It opened the door to visits from royalty across Europe including the Czar of Russia and let him acquire dozens of attractions, including automatons and other mechanical marvels. He was almost able to buy the birth home of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

. Barnum was having the time of his life, and for all of the three years abroad with Thumb, except for a few months when his serious, nervous, and straitlaced wife joined him, he had piles of spending money, food and drink, and lived a carefree existence. On his return to New York, he went on a spending spree, buying other museums, including Peale's museum in Philadelphia, the nation's first major museum. By late 1846, Barnum's Museum was drawing 400,000 visitors a year.

Jenny Lind




A risky decision of Barnum's established him as a legitimate impresario
Impresario
An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays or operas; analogous to a film producer in filmmaking, television production and an angel investor in business...

. During his Tom Thumb tour of England, Barnum had become aware of the popularity of Jenny Lind
Jenny Lind
Johanna Maria Lind , better known as Jenny Lind, was a Swedish opera singer, often known as the "Swedish Nightingale". One of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, she is known for her performances in soprano roles in opera in Sweden and across Europe, and for an extraordinarily...

, the "Swedish Nightingale". Lind's career was at its height in Europe. She was unpretentious, shy and devout, and possessed a crystal-clear soprano
Soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

 voice projected with a wistful quality and earnestness that audiences found touching. Barnum had never heard her and conceded to being unmusical himself. He approached her to sing in America at $1,000 a night for 150 nights, all expenses paid by him. He knew that his risk was great, noting: "'The public' is a very strange animal, and although a good knowledge of human nature will generally lead a caterer of amusement to hit the people right, they are fickle and ofttimes perverse." But Barnum was confident that her reputation for morality and philanthropy could be turned to good use in his publicity.

Lind demanded the fee in advance. Barnum agreed, and she accepted the offer, which would permit her to raise a huge fund for charities, principally endowing schools for poor children in Sweden. To raise the fee, Barnum borrowed heavily on his mansion and his museum. Still slightly short, he persuaded a Philadelphia minister, who thought that Lind would be a good influence on American morals, to lend him the final $5,000. The contract also gave Lind the option of withdrawing from the tour after sixty or one hundred contracts, paying Barnum $25,000 if she did so. Lind and her small company sailed to America in September 1850. As a result of Barnum's months of preparations, Lind was a celebrity even before she arrived in the U.S., and close to 40,000 greeted her at the docks and another 20,000 at her hotel, the press was in attendance, and "Jenny Lind items" were available. When she realized how much money Barnum stood to make from the tour, Lind insisted on a new agreement, which he signed on September 3, 1850. This gave her the original fee plus the remainder of each concert's profits after Barnum's $5,500 management fee was paid. She was determined to accumulate as much money as possible for her charities.

The tour
Jenny Lind tour of America, 1850–52
The Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, often known as the "Swedish Nightingale" was one of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century. At the height of her fame she was persuaded by the showman P.T. Barnum to undertake a long tour of the United States. The tour began in September 1850 and...

 began with a concert at Castle Garden
Castle Clinton
Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton, once known as Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort now located in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan Island, New York City, in the United States. It is perhaps best remembered as America's first immigration station , where more than 8 million...

 on September 11, 1850 and was a major success, recouping Barnum four times his investment. Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

 proclaimed, "She is enough to counterbalance, of herself, all the evil that the world is threatened with by the great convention of women. So God save Jenny Lind!" Tickets for some of her concerts were in such demand that Barnum sold them by auction. The enthusiasm of the public was so strong that the American press coined the term "Lind mania". The blatant commercialism of Barnum's ticket auctions distressed Lind, and for her second concert and thereafter, she persuaded him to make a substantial number of tickets available at reduced prices.

On the tour, Barnum's publicity always preceded Lind's arrival and whipped up enthusiasm (he had up to 26 journalists on his payroll). After New York, the company toured the east coast of America, with continued success, and later took in Cuba and the southern states of the U.S. By early 1851, Lind had become uncomfortable with Barnum's relentless marketing of the tour, and she invoked a contractual right to sever her ties with him. They parted amicably, and she continued the tour for nearly a year under her own management. Lind gave 93 concerts in America for Barnum, earning her about $350,000; Barnum netted at least $500,000.

Diversified leisure-time activities


Using profits from the Lind tour, Barnum's next challenge was to change public attitudes about the theater. Widely seen as 'dens of evil,' Barnum wanted to position them as palaces of edification and delight, and as respectable middle-class entertainment. He built the city's largest and most modern theater, naming it the "Moral Lecture Room." He hoped this would avoid seedy connotations and attract a family crowd and win the approval of the moral crusaders of New York City. He started the nation's first theatrical matinées, to encourage families and to lessen the fear of crime. He opened with The Drunkard, a thinly disguised temperance lecture (he had become a teetotaler after returning from Europe.) He followed that with melodrama
Melodrama
The term melodrama refers to a dramatic work that exaggerates plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. It may also refer to the genre which includes such works, or to language, behavior, or events which resemble them...

s, farce
Farce
In theatre, a farce is a comedy which aims at entertaining the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant, and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include word play, and a fast-paced plot whose speed usually increases,...

s, and historical plays, put on by highly regarded actors. He watered down Shakespearean plays and others such as Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman....

to make them family entertainment.

He organized flower shows, beauty contests, dog shows, poultry contests, but the most popular were baby contests (fattest baby, handsomest twins, etc.). In 1853, he started a pictorial weekly newspaper Illustrated News and a year later completed his autobiography, which through many revisions, sold more than one million copies. Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 loved it but the British Examiner thought it "trashy" and "offensive" and "inspired...nothing but sensations of disgust...and sincere pity for the wretched man who compiled it."

In the early 1850s, Barnum began investing to develop East Bridgeport, Connecticut. He made substantial loans to the Jerome Clock Company, to get it to move to his new industrial area. But by 1856, the company went bankrupt, taking Barnum's wealth with it. This started four years of litigation and public humiliation. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

 proclaimed that Barnum's downfall showed "the gods visible again" and other critics celebrated Barnum's moral comeuppance. But his friends supported him, and Tom Thumb, now touring on his own, offered his services and they undertook another European tour. Barnum also started a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker. By 1860, he emerged from debt and built a mansion "Lindencroft" (his palace "Iranistan
Iranistan
Iranistan was a Moorish Revival mansion in Bridgeport, Connecticut that was commissioned by P. T. Barnum in 1848. It was designed by the Austrian-American architect Leopold Eidlitz. At this "beautiful country seat" Barnum played host to such famous contemporaries as Matthew Arnold, George Custer,...

" had burnt down in 1857) and he resumed ownership of his museum.
Despite critics who predicted he could not revive the magic, Barnum went on to greater success. He created America's first aquarium
Aquarium
An aquarium is a vivarium consisting of at least one transparent side in which water-dwelling plants or animals are kept. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, marine mammals, turtles, and aquatic plants...

 and expanded the wax figure department. His "Seven Grand Salons" demonstrated the Seven Wonders of the World. He created a rogues gallery. The collections expanded to four buildings and he published a "Guide Book to the Museum" which claimed 850,000 'curiosities.'

Late in 1860, the Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng, came out of retirement (they needed more money to send their numerous children to college). The Twins had had a touring career on their own and went to live on a North Carolina plantation with their families and slaves, under the name of "Bunker." They appeared at Barnum's Museum for six weeks. Also in 1860, Barnum introduced the "man-monkey" William Henry Johnson, a microcephalic black dwarf who spoke a mysterious language created by Barnum. In 1862, he discovered the giantess Anna Swan and Commodore Nutt
Commodore Nutt
George Washington Morrison Nutt , better known by his stage name Commodore Nutt, was a 19th century dwarf who became famous working for P. T. Barnum.-Early life:Nutt was born in Manchester, New Hampshire...

, a new Tom Thumb, who with Barnum visited President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 at the White House. During the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, Barnum's museum drew large audiences seeking diversion from the conflict. He added pro-Unionist exhibits, lectures, and dramas, and he demonstrated commitment to the cause. For example, in 1864, Barnum hired Pauline Cushman, an actress who had served as a spy for the Union, to lecture about her "thrilling adventures" behind Confederate lines. Barnum's Unionist sympathies incited a Confederate arsonist to start a fire in 1864. On July 13, 1865, Barnum's American Museum burned to the ground from a fire of unknown origin. Barnum re-established the Museum at another location in New York City, but this too was destroyed by fire in March 1868. This time the loss was too great, and Barnum retired from the museum business.

Circus king



Barnum did not enter the circus business until he was 61 years old. In Delavan
Delavan, Wisconsin
Delavan is a city in Walworth County, Wisconsin, United States. The population was 8,463 at the 2010 census. The city is located partially within the Town of Delavan.-Economy:Delavan is home to the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, and Andes Candies.-History:...

, Wisconsin in 1871 with William Cameron Coup
William Cameron Coup
William Cameron Coup was a Wisconsin businessman who partnered with P. T. Barnum and Dan Castello in 1871 to form the "P. T. Barnum’s Museum, Menagerie and Circus". Previously Barnum had a museum at a fixed location in New York City and the traveling circus allowed him to bring his curiosities to...

, he established "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome," a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks
Freak show
A freak show is an exhibition of biological rarities, referred to as "freaks of nature". Typical features would be physically unusual humans, such as those uncommonly large or small, those with both male and female secondary sexual characteristics, people with other extraordinary diseases and...

." It went through various names: "P.T. Barnum's Travelling World's Fair, Great Roman Hippodrome
Hippodrome
A hippodrome was a Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. The name is derived from the Greek words "hippos and "dromos"...

 and Greatest Show On Earth," and after an 1881 merger with James Bailey
James Anthony Bailey
James Anthony Bailey was the creator of the modern circus.-Biography:He was born James Anthony McGuiness in Detroit, Michigan. Orphaned at the age of eight, McGuinness was working as a bellhop in Pontiac, Michigan when he was discovered by Fred Harrison Bailey as a teenager...

 and James L. Hutchinson, "P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show On Earth, And The Great London Circus, Sanger's Royal British Menagerie and The Grand International Allied Shows United," soon shortened to "Barnum & Bailey's." This entertainment phenomenon was the first circus to display 3 rings, which made it the largest circus the world had ever seen. The show's first primary attraction was Jumbo
Jumbo
Jumbo was a large African Bush Elephant, born 1861 in the French Sudan – present-day Mali – imported to a Paris zoo, transferred to the London Zoo in 1865, and sold in 1882 to P. T...

, an African elephant he purchased in 1882 from the London Zoo
London Zoo
London Zoo is the world's oldest scientific zoo. It was opened in London on 27 April 1828, and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. It was eventually opened to the public in 1847...

. The Barnum and Bailey still contained similar acts as to his Traveling Menagerie: acrobats, freak shows, and the world famous General Tom Thumb. Despite more fires, train disasters, and other setbacks, Barnum plowed ahead, aided by circus professionals who ran the daily operations. He and Bailey split up again in 1885, but came back together in 1888 with the "Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth," later "Barnum & Bailey Circus," which toured the world. Barnum once wrote to Bailey, “I try to impress on the public that we are prepared to keep the show at the top of the heap for generations to come…” (Saxon 298). And that he did; Barnum became even more of a household name than he already was. Not only was he a business giant and marketing expert, but he became his own character in the show. He would ride around the arena in a chariot, prior to each performance. He was there, watching, supporting, and enjoyed the marvel and wonder he had created. "The noblest art is that of making others happy" – P.T. Barnum

Barnum became known as the Shakespeare of Advertising, due to his innovative and impressive ideas. He knew how to draw patrons in, by giving them a glimpse of something that had never been seen before. “Without promotion something terrible happens... Nothing!” he once said. He was, at times, accused of being deceptive and promoting false advertising. He simply indulged in the truth and made it seem more appealing. He knew what America wanted and he delivered. "Nobody ever lost a dollar by underestimating the taste of the American public, " Barnum stated.

Barnum was one of the very first circus owners to move his circus by train. His friend, W.C. Coup, helped him get railroad cars to make his tour traveling easier. Given the lack of paved highways in America, this turned out to be a shrewd business move that enlarged Barnum's geographical reach. Many circus historians credit Bailey with this innovation. In this new field, Barnum leaned on the advice of Bailey and other business partners, most of whom were young enough to be his sons.

Author and debunker



Barnum wrote several books, including Life of P.T. Barnum (1854), The Humbugs of the World (1865), Struggles and Triumphs (1869), and The Art of Money-Getting (1880).

Mass publication of his autobiography was one of Barnum's more successful methods of self-promotion. Some readers owned every edition. Barnum eventually gave up his copyright to allow other printers to sell inexpensive editions. At the end of the 19th century the number of copies printed was second only to the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 in North America.

Often referred to as the "Prince of Humbugs," Barnum saw nothing wrong in entertainers or vendors using hype
Hyperbole
Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally....

 (or "humbug
Humbug
Humbug is an old term meaning hoax or jest. While the term was first described in 1751 as student slang, its etymology is unknown. Its present meaning as an exclamation is closer to 'nonsense' or 'gibberish', while as a noun, a humbug refers to a fraud or impostor, implying an element of...

," as he termed it) in promotional material, as long as the public was getting value for money. However, he was contemptuous of those who made money through fraudulent deceptions
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

, especially the spiritualist mediums
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

 popular in his day, testifying against noted spirit photographer William H. Mumler
William H. Mumler
William H. Mumler was an American spirit photographer who worked in New York and Boston. His first spirit photograph was a self-portrait which developed to apparently show his deceased cousin...

 in his trial for fraud. Prefiguring illusionists
Magic (illusion)
Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means...

 Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts...

 and James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, Barnum exposed "the tricks of the trade" used by mediums to cheat the bereaved. In The Humbugs of the World, he offered $500 to any medium who could prove power to communicate with the dead.

Politician and reformer


Barnum was significantly involved in politics, focusing on race, slavery, and sectionalism in the period leading up to the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. He had some of his first success as an impresario through his slave Joice Heth. Around 1850, he was involved in a hoax about a weed that would turn black people white.

Barnum was a producer and promoter of blackface
Blackface
Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used in minstrel shows, and later vaudeville, in which performers create a stereotyped caricature of a black person. The practice gained popularity during the 19th century and contributed to the proliferation of stereotypes such as the "happy-go-lucky darky...

 minstrelsy
Minstrel show
The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface....

. Barnum's minstrel shows often used double-edged humor. While replete with racist stereotypes, Barnum's shows satirized white racial attitudes, as in a stump speech in which a black phrenologist
Phrenology
Phrenology is a pseudoscience primarily focused on measurements of the human skull, based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules...

 (like all minstrel performers, a white man in blackface) made a dialect speech parodying lectures given at the time to "prove" the superiority of the white race: "You see den, dat clebber man and dam rascal means de same in Dutch, when dey boph white; but when one white and de udder's black, dat's a grey hoss ob anoder color."

Promotion of minstrel shows led to his sponsorship in 1853 of H.J. Conway's politically watered-down stage version of Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom...

's Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman....

; the play, at Barnum's American Museum, gave the story a happy ending, with Tom and other slaves freed. The success led to a play based on Stowe's Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp
Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp
Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp is the second novel from American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. It was first published in two volumes by Phillips, Sampson and Company in 1856. Although it enjoyed better initial sales than her previous, and more famous, novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, it was...

. His opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

 of 1854 led him to leave the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 to become a member of the new Republican Party. He had evolved from a man of common prejudices in the 1840s to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War.

While he claimed "politics were always distasteful to me," Barnum was elected to the Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 legislature in 1865 as Republican representative for Fairfield
Fairfield, Connecticut
Fairfield is a town located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It is bordered by the towns of Bridgeport, Trumbull, Easton, Redding and Westport along the Gold Coast of Connecticut. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 59,404...

 and served two terms. In the debate over slavery and African-American suffrage with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab
or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit." He ran for the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 1867 and lost. In 1875, Barnum was mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut for a year and worked to improve the water supply, bring gaslighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital
Bridgeport Hospital
Bridgeport Hospital is a private, not-for-profit general medical and surgical hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It is a member of the Yale New Haven Health System, and affiliated with the Yale University School of Medicine.-Description:...

, founded in 1878, and was its first president.

"Profitable philanthropy"


Barnum enjoyed what he publicly dubbed "profitable philanthropy." In Barnum's own words: "I have no desire to be considered much of a philanthropist...if by improving and beautifying our city Bridgeport, Connecticut, and adding to the pleasure and prosperity of my neighbors, I can do so at a profit, the incentive to 'good works' will be twice as strong as if it were otherwise." In line with this philosophy was Barnum's pursuit of major American museums and spectacles. Less known are Barnum's significant contributions to Tufts University
Tufts University
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

. Barnum was appointed to the Board of Trustees prior to the University's founding and made several significant contributions to the fledgling institution. The most noteworthy example of this was his gift in 1883 of $50,000 dollars ($1,136,269 2009 U.S. dollars), to establish a museum and hall for the Department of Natural History
Natural History
Natural history is the scientific study of plants or animals.Natural History may also refer to:In science and medicine:* Natural History , Naturalis Historia, a 1st-century work by Pliny the Elder...

, which today houses the department of biology. Because of the relationship between Barnum and Tufts, Jumbo the elephant became the school's mascot, and Tufts students are known as "Jumbos."

Legacy


Barnum built four mansions in Bridgeport, Connecticut
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Bridgeport is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Connecticut. Located in Fairfield County, the city had an estimated population of 144,229 at the 2010 United States Census and is the core of the Greater Bridgeport area...

: Iranistan
Iranistan
Iranistan was a Moorish Revival mansion in Bridgeport, Connecticut that was commissioned by P. T. Barnum in 1848. It was designed by the Austrian-American architect Leopold Eidlitz. At this "beautiful country seat" Barnum played host to such famous contemporaries as Matthew Arnold, George Custer,...

, Lindencroft, Waldemere and Marina. Iranistan was the most notable: a fanciful and opulent Moorish Revival
Moorish Revival
Moorish Revival or Neo-Moorish is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that were adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental...

 splendor designed by Leopold Eidlitz
Leopold Eidlitz
Leopold Eidlitz was a prominent New York architect best known for his work on the New York State Capitol , as well as "Iranistan" , P. T. Barnum's house in Bridgeport, Connecticut; St. Peter's Church, on Westchester Avenue at St...

 with domes, spires and lacy fretwork, inspired by the Royal Pavilion
Royal Pavilion
The Royal Pavilion is a former royal residence located in Brighton, England. It was built in three campaigns, beginning in 1787, as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, from 1811 Prince Regent. It is often referred to as the Brighton Pavilion...

 in Brighton
Brighton
Brighton is the major part of the city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, England on the south coast of Great Britain...

, England. This mansion was built 1848 but burned down in 1857.

Barnum suffered a stroke in in 1890 during a performance and later died in 1891. He was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport
Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport
Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, was laid out in 1849 in a park-like, rural setting away from the center of the city.The cemetery was designed by P. T. Barnum, who himself is buried there.-Notable interments:...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, a cemetery he designed.

At his death, most critics had forgiven him and he was praised for good works. Barnum was hailed as an icon of American spirit and ingenuity, and was perhaps the most famous American in the world. Just before his death, he gave permission to the Evening Sun to print his obituary, so that he might read it. On April 7 he asked about the box office receipts for the day; a few hours later, he was dead.

In 1893, a statue in his honor was placed at Seaside Park, by the water in Bridgeport. Barnum had donated the land for this park in 1865.

His circus was sold to Ringling Brothers
Ringling brothers
The Ringling brothers were seven siblings who transformed their small touring company of performers into one of America's largest circuses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in McGregor, Iowa and raised in Baraboo, Wisconsin, they were the children of Heinrich Friedrich August Ringling...

 on July 8, 1907 for $400,000 (about $8.5 million in 2008 dollars).. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circuses ran separately until they merged in 1919 forming the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American circus company. The company was started when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses...

.

The Tufts University
Tufts University
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

 Biology Building is named in honor of Barnum. Jumbo eventually became the mascot of Tufts University
Tufts University
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

, in honor of Barnum's 1889 donation of the elephant's stuffed hide.

In 1936, for the centennial of the city of Bridgeport, CT, his portrait was used for the obverse of a commemorative half dollar
Bridgeport Half Dollar
The Bridgeport centennial half dollar commemorative coin was minted to celebrate the centennial of the incorporation of the city of Bridgeport, CT in 1936....

.

Walt Kelly
Walt Kelly
Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr. , or Walt Kelly, was an American animator and cartoonist, best known for the comic strip, Pogo. He began his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to Pinocchio and Fantasia. Kelly resigned in 1941 at the age of 28 to work at Post-Hall Syndicate,...

, who grew up in Bridgeport, named the Pogo character P.T. Bridgeport after Barnum, and endowed the circus operator bear with a Barnum-like outsized personality and word balloons with lettering that resembled 19th century circus posters giving graphic depiction of the sort of colorful language Barnum was prone to use.

To honor the 200th anniversary of Barnum's birth, the Bethel Historical Society commissioned a life-size sculpture, created by local resident David Guesualdi, that stands outside the public library. The statue was dedicated on September 26, 2010.

The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry company operates three vessels that run across the Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound
Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, located in the United States between Connecticut to the north and Long Island, New York to the south. The mouth of the Connecticut River at Old Saybrook, Connecticut, empties into the sound. On its western end the sound is bounded by the Bronx...

 between Port Jefferson, NY, and Bridgeport. One of those three ferry boats is named "The P.T. Barnum."

Publications

  • Art of Money Getting, or, Golden Rules for Making Money. Originally published 1880. Reprint ed., Bedford, MA: Applewood, 1999. ISBN 1-55709-494-2.
  • Struggles and Triumphs, or Forty Years' Recollections of P.T. Barnum. Originally published 1869. Reprint ed., Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2003. ISBN 0-7661-5556-0 (Part 1) and ISBN 0-7661-5557-9 (Part 2).
  • The Colossal P.T. Barnum Reader: Nothing Else Like It in the Universe. Ed. by James W. Cook. Champaign, University of Illinois Press
    University of Illinois Press
    The University of Illinois Press , is a major American university press and part of the University of Illinois system. Founded in 1918, the press publishes some 120 new books each year, plus 33 scholarly journals, and several electronic projects...

    , 2005. ISBN 0-252-07295-2.
  • The Life of P.T. Barnum: Written By Himself. Originally published 1855. Reprint ed., Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2000. ISBN 0-252-06902-1.
  • The Wild Beasts, Birds and Reptiles of the World: The Story of their Capture. Pub. 1888, R. S. Peale & Company, Chicago.
  • Why I Am A Universalist. Originally published 1890 Reprint Kessinger Pub Co. ISBN 1-4286-2657-3

See also

  • James Anthony Bailey
    James Anthony Bailey
    James Anthony Bailey was the creator of the modern circus.-Biography:He was born James Anthony McGuiness in Detroit, Michigan. Orphaned at the age of eight, McGuinness was working as a bellhop in Pontiac, Michigan when he was discovered by Fred Harrison Bailey as a teenager...

  • Barnum
    Barnum (musical)
    Barnum is a musical with a book by Mark Bramble, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and music by Cy Coleman. It is based on the life of showman P. T. Barnum, covering the period from 1835 through 1880 in America and major cities of the world where Barnum took his performing companies. The production...

    , a Broadway musical about P.T. Barnum
  • Barnum effect
  • Barnum's American Museum
    Barnum's American Museum
    Barnum's American Museum was located at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street in New York City, USA, from 1841 to 1865. The museum was owned by famous showman P.T. Barnum and his partner and original owner, John Scudder. Prior to their partnership, the museum was known as Scudder's American...

  • Barnum's Aquarial Gardens
    Barnum's Aquarial Gardens
    Barnum's Aquarial Gardens in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, was a public aquarium, zoo, and performance space located on Washington Street in the Financial District. P.T. Barnum bought the Boston Aquarial and Zoological Gardens in 1862, remodelled the space, changed the name of the business, and...

    , Boston, Massachusetts (1862–1863)
  • Tufts University
    Tufts University
    Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

  • Cardiff Giant
    Cardiff Giant
    The Cardiff Giant was one of the most famous hoaxes in United States history. It was a tall purported "petrified man" uncovered on October 16, 1869 by workers digging a well behind the barn of William C. "Stub" Newell in Cardiff, New York. Both it and an unauthorized copy made by P.T...

  • Fiji Mermaid
    Fiji mermaid
    The Fiji mermaid was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, covered in papier-mâché...

  • Carl Hagenbeck
    Carl Hagenbeck
    Carl Hagenbeck was a merchant of wild animals who supplied many European zoos, as well as P.T. Barnum. He is often considered the father of the modern zoo because he introduced "natural" animal enclosures that included recreations of animals' native habitats without bars...

  • Joice Heth
    Joice Heth
    Joice Heth was an African American slave who was exhibited by P. T. Barnum with the claim that she was the 161-year-old nursing "mammy" of George Washington.-Biography:Little is known of Heth's earlier life. The promoter R. W...

  • Nellie Keeler
    Nellie Keeler
    Nellie Keeler was an Americana child circus performer known as Little Queen Mab.-Nellie Keeler:Nellie Keeler was born with dwarfism on the sixth of April, 1875 at Kokomo, Indiana. She was the youngest of three daughters and a son raised by Ezra and Maria Keeler. Her father was a farmer and a Civil...

  • Human zoo
    Human zoo
    Human zoos were 19th- and 20th-century public exhibits of humans, usually in a so-called natural or primitive state. The displays often emphasized the cultural differences between Europeans of Western civilisation and non-European peoples...

  • Fedor Jeftichew
    Fedor Jeftichew
    Fedor Jeftichew , better known as Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy , was a famous sideshow performer who was brought to the United States of America by P.T. Barnum.-Biography:Born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1868, Fedor Jeftichew suffered from the medical condition hypertrichosis...

  • Jumbo
    Jumbo
    Jumbo was a large African Bush Elephant, born 1861 in the French Sudan – present-day Mali – imported to a Paris zoo, transferred to the London Zoo in 1865, and sold in 1882 to P. T...

  • Moses Kimball
    Moses Kimball
    Moses Kimball was a U.S. politician and showman. Kimball was a close associate of P. T. Barnum, and public-spirited citizen of Boston, Massachusetts.-Biography:...

  • Middlebush Giant
    Middlebush Giant
    Arthur James Caley or Routh Goshen was most commonly known as Colonel Routh Goshen, but this was a stage name that was created by Phineas Taylor Barnum...

  • Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
    Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
    Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American circus company. The company was started when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses...

  • Isaac W. Sprague
    Isaac W. Sprague
    Isaac W. Sprague was a famous "human skeleton".-Biography:...

  • There's a sucker born every minute
    There's a sucker born every minute
    "There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often credited to P. T. Barnum , an American showman. It is generally taken to mean that there will always be many gullible people in the world.-Attribution to Barnum:...

  • General Tom Thumb
    General Tom Thumb
    General Tom Thumb was the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton , a dwarf who achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum.-Early life:...

  • Wild Men of Borneo
    Wild Men of Borneo
    The Wild Men of Borneo, Waino and Plutanor, were a pair of exceptionally strong dwarf brothers who were most famously associated with P. T. Barnum and his freak show exhibitions.- Life :...

  • Lucia Zarate
    Lucia Zarate
    Lucia Zarate was born in San Carlos, today the area encompassing the town of Ursulo Galvan, Veracruz, and settled on the Agostadero, now Cempoala, Veracruz, Mexico. is the first person to have been identified with Majewski Osteodysplastic Primordial Dwarfism Type II. She was entered into the...

  • Zip the Pinhead
    Zip the Pinhead
    Zip the Pinhead, born William Henry Johnson , was an American freak show performer famous for his oddly tapered head.- Early life :...

  • Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry
    Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry
    The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry crosses Long Island Sound between the city of Bridgeport, Connecticut and the Long Island village of Port Jefferson, New York.-History:The first ferry service began in 1872 and proved popular....


Further reading

  • Adams, Bluford. E Pluribus Barnum: The Great Showman and the Making of U.S. Popular Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8166-2631-6.
  • Barnum, Patrick Warren. Barnum Genealogy: 650 Years of Family History. Boston: Higginson Book Co., 2006. ISBN 0-7404-5551-6 (hardcover), ISBN 0-7404-5552-4 (softcover), LCCN 2005903696.
  • Benton, Joel. The Life of Phineas T. Barnum, http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1576.
  • Cook, James W. The Arts of Deception: Playing with Fraud in the Age of Barnum. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-674-00591-0. Relates Barnum's Fiji Mermaid
    Fiji mermaid
    The Fiji mermaid was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, covered in papier-mâché...

     and What Is It? exhibits to other popular arts of the nineteenth century, including magic shows and trompe l'oeil
    Trompe l'oeil
    Trompe-l'œil, which can also be spelled without the hyphen in English as trompe l'oeil, is an art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three dimensions.-History in painting:Although the phrase has its origin in...

     paintings.
  • Harding, Les. Elephant Story: Jumbo and P. T. Barnum Under the Big Top. Jefferson, NC.: McFarland & Co., 2000. ISBN 0-7864-0632-1. (129 p.)
  • Harris, Neil. Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973. ISBN 0-226-31752-8.
  • Reiss, Benjamin. The Showman and the Slave: Race, Death, and Memory in Barnum's America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-674-00636-4. Focuses on Barnum's exhibition of Joice Heth
    Joice Heth
    Joice Heth was an African American slave who was exhibited by P. T. Barnum with the claim that she was the 161-year-old nursing "mammy" of George Washington.-Biography:Little is known of Heth's earlier life. The promoter R. W...

    .
  • Saxon, Arthur H. P.T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-231-05687-7.
  • Uchill, Ida Libert. Howdy, Sucker! What P.T. Barnum Did in Colorado. Denver: Pioneer Peddler Press, 2001.
  • Jefferson, Margo. On Michael Jackson. New York, NY: Pantheon, 2006. ISBN 978-0-307-27765-7. Critique of Michael Jackson
    Michael Jackson
    Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

    , including his obsession with P.T. Barnum and "Freaks."

External links