P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum
P. T. Barnum

Described as one of the greatest showmen in the world’s history, P. T. Barnum, author of The Art of Money Getting or Golden Rules of Making Money, was a household name. He started and ran the Ringling Bros and Barnum Bailey Circus in 1871 which gave him significant social and money boost. With such an illustrious career, it became apparent that Barnum was the right person one could depend on for advice associated with wealth, career, and business. His work and accomplishment ensured his legacy to live decades after his death on April 7, 1891.

Personal life

Phineas Taylor Barnum was born on July 5, 1810, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Right from his childhood, he demonstrated the skills required of a great promoter. By the time he was 12 years, he had been fully-involved in peddling cherry rum and snacks to soldiers. A business that made him enough money to buy his livestock. At the age of 21, the ambitious Barnum had several holdings such as a small lottery, a general store, as well as a newspaper named Herald of Freedom.

Show Business

The American Showman always believed that the United States had immense opportunities as long as you were willing and ready to exploit them. For that reason, he was never afraid to start any venture his mind could comprehend. He was nicknamed Prince of Humbugs, because of his popularization of the use of humbugs in promotions. He maintained that hoaxes were okay as long as the public got the value for their money.

He officially started his career as a showman at the age of 25 when he purchased an exhibition of a blind and paralyzed woman slave known as Joice Heth. Word around the street had it that Heth was 161 years and a former nurse to George Washington. When he purchased the Scudder’s American Museum in 1841, the first thing he did was to work on its attraction by adding exhibits. He then renamed it Barnum’s American Museum which soon became a famous showplace. The inclusion of a lighthouse lamp and flags helped make the place super attractive.

A year later, Barnum introduced his first hoax, Feejee Mermaid, a monkey bearing the tail of a fish, leased from Moses Kimball, who later on became a close business partner and friend. The hoax worked well in fulfilling Barnum’s beliefs, attract and please the public. Soon followed an exhibition of Charles Stratton, a dwarf he referred to as General Tom Thumb. The success he received in the United States gave Barnum the confidence to tour General Tom Thumb in Europe. While on tour, he met Queen Victoria who expressed amusement as well as sadness for the little man.


Barnum’s impact remains today. Movies have been released based on him. The most recent is The Greatest Showman, a musical in which Hugh Jackman plays Barnum.


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