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P. T. Barnum


Phineas Taylor Barnum

July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891


Circus Trivia, Did You Know?   Did you know that P. T. Barnum was Mayor of Bridgeport, CT, a member of the Connecticut State legislature for 2 terms, president of the Pequonnock National Bank of Bridgeport, President of the Bridgeport Hospital, and Commissioner of Seaside Park.


P. T. Barnum was born July 5 1810, in Bethel, CT.

Phineas Taylor Barnum was an American businessman and showman. He was the founder of the circus that later became the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

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."

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 called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater," and soon after by purchasing Scudder's American Museum. On January 1, 1842, Barnum opened his musuem in New York City, he later renamed the American Museum after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the '"Feejee" mermaid' and "General Tom Thumb." In 1850 he promoted the American tour of singer Jenny Lind, 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 and expanded the wax figure department.

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution 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 gas lighting to streets, and to enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, 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," 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, Connecticut, a cemetery he designed.

P T Barnum Poster
Charles Sherwood Stratton (General Tom Thumb)
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Barnum and Charles Sherwood Stratton
(General Tom Thumb)
P. T. Barnum and Commodore Nutt
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P. T. Barnum with Commodore Nutt
(George Washington Morrison Nutt)
The P T Barnum Circus Winter Quarters
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The P. T. Barnum Circus Winter Quarters
P T Barnum Gravesite, Bridgeport, CT
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Branum Gravesite
Mountain Grove Cemetery
Bridgeport Connecticut


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