P. T. Barnum – Wikipedia

American showman and politician
“ barnum ” redirects here. For other uses with the name Barnum, see Barnum ( disambiguation )
Phineas Taylor Barnum ( ; July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891 ) was an american english showman, businessman, and politician, remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus ( 1871–2017 ) [ 1 ] with James Anthony Bailey. He was besides an author, publisher, and philanthropist, though he said of himself : “ I am a showman by profession … and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me ”. [ 2 ] According to his critics, his personal aim was “ to put money in his own coffers. ” [ 2 ] He is widely credited with coining the proverb “ There ‘s a sucker born every moment “, [ 3 ] although no validation can be found of him saying this.

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 kind company called “ Barnum ‘s Grand Scientific and Musical Theater ”, and soon after by purchasing Scudder ‘s American Museum which he renamed after himself. He used the museum as a chopine to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the Fiji mermaid and General Tom Thumb. [ 4 ] In 1850, he promoted the american tour of swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, paying her an unprecedented $ 1,000 a night for 150 nights. He suffered economic reversals in the 1850s due to bad investments, deoxyadenosine monophosphate well as years of litigation and public humiliation, but he used a lecture tour as a temperance speaker to emerge from debt. His museum added America ‘s beginning aquarium and expanded the wax-figure department. Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield, Connecticut. He spoke before the legislature concerning the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which abolished bondage and involuntary servitude : “ 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 emotional state ”. [ 5 ] He was elected in 1875 as mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut where he worked to improve the water system provide, bring gasoline unhorse to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws. He was besides instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital in 1878 and was its first president. [ 6 ] Nevertheless, the circus commercial enterprise, begun when he was 60 years old, was the reservoir of much of his enduring fame. He established “ P. T. Barnum ‘s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome ” in 1870, a traveling circus, menagerie, and museum of “ freaks ” which adopted many names over the years. Barnum was married to Charity Hallett from 1829 until her death in 1873, and they had four children. In 1874, a few months after his wife ‘s end, he married Nancy Fish, his ally ‘s daughter who was 40 years his junior. They were married until 1891 when Barnum died of a throw at his home. He was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, which he designed himself. [ 7 ]

early life [edit ]

Barnum was born in Bethel, Connecticut, the son of host, sew, and store-keeper Philo Barnum ( 1778–1826 ) and his second base wife Irene Taylor. His maternal grandfather Phineas Taylor was a Whig, legislator, landowner, department of justice of the peace, and lottery schemer who had a great determine on him. Barnum had respective businesses over the years, including a general storehouse, a book auctioning trade, real estate speculation, and a statewide lottery network. He started a weekly newspaper in 1829 called The Herald of Freedom in Danbury, Connecticut. His editorials against the elders of local churches led to libel suits and a prosecution which resulted in imprisonment for two months, but he became a ace of the liberal movement upon his spill. [ citation needed ] He sold his store in 1834. He began his career as a showman in 1835 when he was 25 with the purchase and exhibition of a blind and about wholly paralyze slave woman named Joice Heth, whom an acquaintance was trumpeting around Philadelphia as George Washington ‘s former harbor and 161 years old. Slavery was already outlawed in New York, but he exploited a loophole which allowed him to lease her for a year for $ 1,000, borrowing $ 500 to complete the sale. Heth died in February 1836, at no more than 80 years honest-to-god. Barnum had worked her for 10 to 12 hours a sidereal day, and he hosted a live autopsy of her body in a New York sedan where spectators paid 50 cents to see the dead woman cut up, as he revealed that she was probably half her aim old age. [ 8 ] [ 9 ]

showman [edit ]

Barnum had a year of mix success with his first base variety show company called “ Barnum ‘s Grand Scientific and Musical Theater ”, followed by the Panic of 1837 and three years of difficult circumstances. He purchased Scudder ‘s American Museum in 1841, located at Broadway and Ann Street, New York City. He improved the attraction, upgrading the construction and adding exhibits, then renamed it “ Barnum ‘s American Museum ” ; it became a popular showplace. He added a beacon lamp which attracted care up and down Broadway and flags along the roof ‘s edge that attracted attention in day, while giant paintings of animals between the upper berth windows drew attention 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 know acts and curiosities were added to the exhibits of gorge animals, including albinos, giants, little people, jugglers, magicians, exotic women, detailed models of cities and celebrated battles, and a menagerie of animals .

Fiji mermaid and Tom Thumb [edit ]

1866 newspaper ad for Barnum ‘s American Museum located on Ann Street in Manhattan In 1842 Barnum introduced his foremost major hoax : a animal with the body of a tamper and the stern of a fish known as the “ Feejee ” mermaid. He leased it from fellow museum owner Moses Kimball of Boston who became his acquaintance, confidant, and collaborator. [ 10 ] [ 11 ] Barnum justified his hoaxes by saying that they were advertisements to draw attention to the museum. “ I do n’t believe in duping the public ”, he said, “ but I believe in first attract and then pleasing them. ” [ 12 ] He followed the mermaid by exhibiting Charles Stratton, the little person called “ General Tom Thumb “ ( “ the Smallest Person that ever Walked Alone ” ) who was then four years old but was stated to be 11. With heavy coach and natural endowment, the boy was taught to imitate people from Hercules to Napoleon. He was drinking wine by age five and smoking cigars by age seven for the populace ‘s entertainment. In 1843 Barnum hired the native american dancer fu-Hum-Me, the first base of many First Nations people whom he presented. During 1844–45 he toured with General Tom Thumb in Europe and met Queen Victoria, who was amused [ 13 ] [ failed verification ] but saddened by the little valet, and the event was a publicity coup. It opened the door to visits from royalty throughout Europe, including the Tsar of Russia, and enabled Barnum to acquire dozens of new attractions, including automatons and early mechanical marvels. During this clock he went on a spend spree and bought other museums, including artist Rembrandt Peale ‘s Museum in Philadelphia, [ 14 ] the nation ‘s first gear major museum. By recently 1846, Barnum ‘s Museum was drawing 400,000 visitors a year. [ 4 ]

Jenny Lind [edit ]

Barnum became mindful of the popularity of Jenny Lind, the “ swedish Nightingale ”, during his european go with Tom Thumb when her career was at its altitude in Europe. Barnum had never heard her and conceded to being unmusical himself, [ 15 ] but he approached her to sing in America at $ 1,000 a night for 150 nights, all expenses paid by him. [ 16 ] He was confident that he could make consumption of Lind ‘s reputation for morality and philanthropy in his publicity. [ 15 ] Lind demanded the tip in advance and Barnum agreed ; this permitted her to raise a fund for charities, chiefly endowing schools for inadequate children in Sweden. [ 17 ] Barnum borrowed heavily on his sign of the zodiac and his museum to raise the money to pay Lind [ 16 ] but he was still short of funds ; indeed he persuaded a Philadelphia minister that Lind would be a dear influence on american morals, and the minister lent him the final $ 5,000. The condense besides gave Lind the choice of withdrawing from the go after 60 or 100 performances, paying Barnum $ 25,000 if she did thus. [ 17 ] Lind and her little company sailed to America in September 1850, but she was a celebrity evening before she arrived because of Barnum ‘s months of preparations ; close to 40,000 people greeted her at the docks and another 20,000 at her hotel. The press was besides in attendance, and “ Jenny Lind items ” were available to buy. [ 18 ] When she realized how much money Barnum stood to make from the tour, she insisted on a fresh agreement which he signed on September 3, 1850. This gave her the original tip plus the remainder of each concert ‘s profits after Barnum ‘s $ 5,500 management fee. She was determined to accumulate as much money as potential for her charities. [ 15 ] The go began with a concert at Castle Garden on September 11, 1850, and it was a major success, recouping Barnum four times his investment. Washington Irving proclaimed, “ She is adequate to counterbalance, of herself, all the malefic that the universe is threatened with by the great conventionality of women. So God save Jenny Lind ! ” [ 18 ] Tickets for some of her concerts were in such demand that Barnum sold them by auction, and public enthusiasm was so firm that the press coined the term “ Lind mania ”. [ 19 ] The blatant commerce of Barnum ‘s slate auctions distressed Lind, [ 19 ] and she persuaded him to make a significant number of tickets available at reduce prices. [ 20 ] On the enlistment Barnum ‘s publicity always preceded Lind ‘s arrival and whipped up exuberance ; he had up to 26 journalists on his payroll. [ 21 ] After New York, the party toured the east seashore with continue success, and late went through the southern states and Cuba. By early 1851, Lind had become uncomfortable with Barnum ‘s grim 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 about a year under her own management. [ 15 ] Lind gave 93 concerts in America for Barnum, earning her about $ 350,000, while Barnum netted at least $ 500,000 ( equivalent to $ 15,554,000 in 2020 ). [ 22 ]

Diversified leisure-time activities [edit ]

Barnum ‘s next challenge was to change public attitudes about the dramaturgy which was widely seen as a therefore called “ den of evil ”. He wanted to situation theaters as palaces of edification and delight, and as respectable middle-class entertainment. He built New York City ‘s largest and most mod dramaturgy, naming it the “ moral Lecture Room. ” He hoped that this would avoid scruffy connotations, attract a family crowd, and win the approval of the moral crusaders of New York City. He started the nation ‘s first theatrical performance matinées to encourage families and to lessen the reverence 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, farces, and historical plays put on by highly regard actors. He watered down Shakespearean plays and others such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin to make them family entertainment. [ citation needed ] He organized flower shows, smasher contests, dog shows, and domestic fowl contests, but the most popular were baby contests such as the fattest baby or the handsomest twins. In 1853 he started the pictorial weekly newspaper Illustrated News ; he completed his autobiography a year subsequently which sold more than a million copies over the course of numerous revisions. Mark Twain loved the bible, but the British Examiner thought it “ brassy ” and “ offensive ” and wrote that it inspired “ nothing but sensations of disgust ” and “ sincere compassion for the hapless man who compiled it ”. [ 23 ] 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 fresh industrial area, but the company went bankrupt by 1856, taking Barnum ‘s wealth with it. This started four years of litigation and public humiliation. Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed that Barnum ‘s precipitation showed “ the gods visible again ” and other critics celebrated Barnum ‘s public dilemma. But Tom Thumb offered his services, as he was touring on his own, and the two undertake another european tour. Barnum besides started a call on the carpet tour, largely as a sobriety speaker. By 1860, he emerged from debt and built a sign of the zodiac which he called “ Lindencroft ”, and he resumed ownership of his museum .
Barnum went on to create America ‘s beginning aquarium and to expand the wax figure department of his museum. His “ Seven Grand Salons ” demonstrated the Seven Wonders of the World. The collections expanded to four buildings, and he published a “ Guide Book to the Museum ” which claimed 850,000 “ curiosities ”. [ 24 ] Late in 1860, thai Twins Chang and Eng came out of retirement because they needed more money to send their numerous children to college. They had a touring career on their own and went to live on a North Carolina grove with their families and slaves under the diagnose of Bunker. They besides appeared at Barnum ‘s Museum for six weeks. besides in 1860, Barnum introduced “ man-monkey ” William Henry Johnson, a microcephalic black little person who spoke a mysterious speech created by Barnum. In 1862 he discovered giantess Anna Swan and Commodore Nutt, a new Tom Thumb with whom Barnum visited President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. During the Civil War, his museum drew big audiences seeking diversion from the battle. He added pro-Unionist exhibits, lectures, and drama, and he demonstrated committedness to the cause. He hired Pauline Cushman in 1864, an actress who had served as a spy for the Union, to lecture about her “ exhilarate adventures ” behind Confederate lines. Barnum ‘s Unionist sympathies incited a Confederate sympathizer to start a fire in 1864. Barnum ‘s American Museum burned to the grind on July 13, 1865 from a fire of unknown beginning. Barnum re-established it at another placement in New York City, but this besides was destroyed by fire in March 1868. The loss was excessively great the second time, and Barnum retired from the museum business .

Circus King [edit ]

Winter Quarters of the Great Barnum-London Show before 1886

share of the Barnum and Bailey Ltd, issued January 24, 1902 Barnum did not enter the circus business until he was 60 years old. He established “ P. T. Barnum ‘s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome “ in Delavan, Wisconsin, in 1870 with William Cameron Coup ; it was a travel circus, menagerie, and museum of “ freaks ”. It went through diverse names : “ P. T. Barnum ‘s Travelling World ‘s Fair, Great Roman Hippodrome and Greatest Show on Earth ”, and “ 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 ” after an 1881 amalgamation with James Bailey and James L. Hutchinson, soon shortened to “ Barnum & Bailey ‘s ”. This entertainment phenomenon was the beginning circus to display three rings. [ 25 ] The usher ‘s first primary coil attraction was Jumbo, an african elephant that Barnum purchased in 1882 from the London Zoo. The Barnum and Bailey Circus placid contained acts alike to his Traveling Menagerie, including acrobats, freak out shows, and General Tom Thumb. Barnum persisted in growing the circus in cattiness of more fires, trail disasters, and other setbacks, and he was aided by circus professionals who ran the daily operations. He and Bailey split up in 1885, but they came back in concert in 1888 with the “ Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth ”, later “ Barnum & Bailey Circus “ which toured the world. Barnum was one of the first circus owners to move his circus by coach, on the trace of Bailey and other business partners, and probably the first to own his own train. Given the miss of paved highways in America at that time, this turned out to be a calculating decision that vastly expanded Barnum ‘s geographic reach. In this raw industry, Barnum leaned more on the advice of his partners, most of whom were unseasoned enough to be his sons. Barnum became known as the “ Shakespeare of Advertising ” due to his innovative and impressive ideas. [ 26 ]

writer and debunker [edit ]

parody of Jenny Lind ‘s first american tour for P. T. Barnum, New York City, October 1850 Barnum wrote several books, including Life of P. T. Barnum ( 1855 ), The Humbugs of the World ( 1865 ), Struggles and Triumphs ( 1869 ), Forest and jungle, or, Thrilling adventures in all quarters of the globe : [ 27 ] and The Art of Money-Getting ( 1880 ). [ 28 ]
Barnum was often referred to as the “ Prince of Humbugs ”, and he saw nothing wrong in entertainers or vendors using hoaxes ( or “ baloney ”, as he termed it ) in promotional material, american samoa long as the public was getting value for money. however, he was contemptuous of those who made money through imposter, particularly the medium mediums democratic in his day ; he testified against noted “ spirit photographer ” William H. Mumler in his test for fraud, and he exposed “ the tricks of the trade ” used by mediums to cheat the bereaved. In The Humbugs of the World, he offered $ 500 ( $ 8,391.63 in 2021 ) to any medium who could prove power to communicate with the dead .

Role in politics [edit ]

Barnum was importantly involved in politics. He chiefly focused on raceway, slavery, and sectionalism in the period leading up to the American Civil War. He opposed the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854, which supported slavery, so he left the Democratic Party which endorsed slavery and became partially of the new anti-slavery Republican Party. Barnum claimed that “ politics were constantly distasteful to me ”, even he was elected to the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as republican congressman for Fairfield and served four terms. [ 29 ] [ 30 ] He hired spies to get insider information on the New York and New Haven Railroad lines and exposed a mysterious that would raise fares by 20 percentage. [ citation needed ] [ vague ] He said during the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution : “ A human person, ‘that God has created and Christ died for, ‘ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the soundbox of a Chinaman, a Turk, an arabian or a Hottentot—it is placid an immortal spirit. ” [ 29 ] He besides acknowledged that he had owned slaves when he lived in the South. “ I whipped my slaves. I ought to have been whipped a thousand times for this myself. But then I was a Democrat—one of those nondescript Democrats, who are Northern men with southerly principles ”. [ 31 ] Barnum was elected for the next four sessions and succeeded Senator Orris S. Ferry. He was the legislative sponsor of a law enacted by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1879 which prohibited the use of “ any drug, medicative article or musical instrument for the purpose of preventing creation ”, and besides made it a crime to act as an accessory to the use of contraception ; this law remained in effect in Connecticut until it was overturned in 1965 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut. [ 32 ] [ 33 ] He ran for Congress in 1867 and lost to his third base cousin William Henry Barnum. In 1875, he worked as mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut to improve the water issue, bring natural gas fall to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws. He was implemental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president. [ 6 ]

profitable philanthropy [edit ]

Barnum enjoyed what he publicly dubbed “ profitable philanthropy ”. “ 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 net income, the incentive to ‘good works ‘ will be doubly a strong as if it were otherwise. ” [ 34 ] He was appointed to the Board of Trustees to Tufts University anterior to its establish, and he made respective significant contributions to the newcomer mental hospital, including a giving of $ 50,000 ( equivalent to $ 1,388,750 in 2020 ) in 1883 to establish a museum ( late known as Barnum Museum of Natural History ) and anteroom for the Department of Natural History. [ 35 ] Tufts made Jumbo the elephant the school ‘s mascot, and Tufts students are known as “ Jumbos ”. [ 36 ]

personal life and death [edit ]

On November 8, 1829, Barnum married Charity Hallett, [ 37 ] and they had four children : Caroline Cornelia ( 1830–1911 ), Helen Maria ( 1840–1920 ), Frances Irena ( 1842–1844 ), and Pauline Taylor ( 1846–1877 ). [ 38 ] His wife died on November 19, 1873, [ 38 ] and he married Nancy Fish, the daughter of his close friend John Fish, the follow class ; Nancy was 40 years younger than he was. [ 39 ] Barnum died from a solidus at home in 1891. [ 30 ] He is buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a cemetery that he designed. [ 7 ]

bequest [edit ]

Barnum built four mansions in Bridgeport, Connecticut : Iranistan, Lindencroft, Waldemere, and Marina. Iranistan was the most noteworthy, a moorish Revival computer architecture designed by Leopold Eidlitz with domes, spires, and lacy lattice inspired by the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. It was built in 1848 but it burned down in 1857. [ 40 ] The Marina Mansion was demolished by the University of Bridgeport in 1964 in order to build their cafeteria. [ 41 ] At his death critics praised Barnum for good works and called him an picture of american english spirit and inventiveness. He asked the Evening Sun to print his obituary equitable prior to his death so that he might read it. On April 7, 1891, Barnum asked about the box function receipts for the day ; a few hours late, he was absolutely. [ 30 ]
P. T. Barnum, sculpted by , sculpted by Thomas Ball ( 1887 ), Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Connecticut In 1893, a statue in his honor was placed by his early partners James Bailey, James A. Hutchinson, and W. W. Cole, at Seaside Park in Bridgeport. [ 42 ] [ 43 ] Barnum had donated the country for this park in 1865. His circus was sold to Ringling Brothers on July 8, 1907, for $ 400,000 ( about $ 10.45 million in 2017 dollars ). [ 6 ] The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circuses ran individually until they merged in 1919, forming the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The city of Bridgeport issued a commemorative mint in 1936 for their centennial celebration, with his portrait for the obverse. [ 44 ] Cartoonist Walt Kelly grew up in Bridgeport and named a fictional character in Barnum ‘s honor in his Pogo comic strip. An annual six-week Barnum Festival was held for many years in Bridgeport as a protection to Barnum. [ 45 ] The Bethel Historical Society commissioned a life-size sculpture to honor the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth, created by local resident David Gesualdi and placed outside the populace library. [ 46 ] The statue was dedicated on September 26, 2010. [ 47 ] Barnum co-founded the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company in 1883 with Charles E. Tooker, which continues to operate across the Long Island Sound between Port Jefferson, New York and Bridgeport. The ship’s company owns and operates three vessels, one of which is named the M.V. PT Barnum. [ 48 ] [ 49 ] The Barnum Museum in Bridgeport houses many of Barnum ‘s oddities and curiosities .

In popular culture [edit ]

Films and television [edit ]

theater [edit ]

  • Barnum (1980) – Broadway musical based on Barnum’s life, with Jim Dale in the title role

Books [edit ]

  • The Great and Only Barnum; the Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum by Candace Fleming, Schwartz and Wade Book, a division of Random House, New York. (2009).

Publications [edit ]

  • The Life of P. T. Barnum: Written By Himself. Originally published New York: Redfield, 1855. Reprinted., Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2000. ISBN 0-252-06902-1.
  • Struggles and Triumphs, or Forty Years’ Recollections of P. T. Barnum. Originally published 1869. Reprinted., Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2003. ISBN 0-7661-5556-0 (Part 1) and ISBN 0-7661-5557-9 (Part 2). 1882 edition at the Internet Archive
  • Art of Money Getting, or, Golden Rules for Making Money. Originally published 1880. Reprinted., Bedford, MA: Applewood, 1999. ISBN 1-55709-494-2.
  • 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 besides [edit ]

References [edit ]

far read [edit ]

Digital collections
Physical collections
Biographical information
Scholarship and analysis
Other links
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