P.T. Barnum was born way back in the early 1800s. He started out by running a small business. It was a weekly paper. It was called the Herald of Freedom. He ran the paper for about five years. He then moved to New York City where he began his career in the entertainment business. His first troupe was a variety group, which he called “Barnum’s Grand Scientific and Musical Theater”. Then he soon bought the Scudders American Museum. In this museum, he started doing shows to promote hoaxes that would draw people in. these were things like “General Tom Thumb”. Before to long he was drawing in over 400,000 people a year.
But do to some bad investments that he made, he was in litigation for about four years. He quickly recovered. It did not take him long to get completely out of debt and built himself a mansion. He then added the first aquarium in America to his museum. He also added more to the wax department. Yes, he was most known for his circus but he did so much more. His museum housed many famous exhibits, like Chang and Eng, the two famous Siamese twins, the giantess Anna Swan and many more. Over the years he added more and more different “freak “ exhibits but when a fire destroyed the museum in 1865, he retired from the museum business completely.
Over the years he built four mansions. The Iranistan, Lindencroft, Waldemere and Marina. All four of these mansions were splendid and well known. He also wrote several books. These books were The Life of P.T. Barnum (1854) The Humbugs of the World (1865) Struggles and Triumphs (1869), and The Art of Money Getting. (1880). These books sold amazingly well and at the time there were more books printed of his books then any other book except for the New Testament.
What a lot of people may not know about him that he was elected into office in Connecticut and served two terms. He tried two times to run for The United States Congress but did not succeed. He was also mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut for a year. He was responsible for enforcing prostitution and liquor laws.
When he was 61, he started the circus. Which soon was known as the “Greatest Show on Earth” he was not the first circus, but he was the first person to move a circus by train, and the first to buy his own train. His circus soon joined with James Bailey’s circus and became known as a three-ring extravaganza. He then bought the largest elephant ever to be had in captivity, Jumbo. This upset the English a great deal, but this only made Jumbo and the circus a greater hit. It took off like wildflowers and was soon popular all over the United States. And still is today, over a hundred years after his death.