P. T. Barnum

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P.T. Barnum was a well-known figure who entertained millions of people with his weird yet funny showmanship. He was dubbed the “Shakespeare of advertising” for his in-depth understanding of how to pique people’s interest and thrill them, as well as his ability to bundle and generate entertainment. During the nineteenth century, this renowned showman established the contemporary three-ring circus, which became the “biggest circus in the world.” ‘The Feejee Mermaid,’ ‘Tom Thumb’s Baby,’ ‘The Cardiff Giant,’ and ‘Free Grand Buffalo Hunt’ are just a few of his most famous pranks and hoaxes. His entrepreneurial abilities and ‘profitable altruism’ enterprises made him one of the wealthiest men of his day. During his lifetime, he also wrote a number of books, including ‘Struggles and Triumphs,’ ‘Art of Money-Getting,’ and his autobiography, ‘The Life of P.T. Barnum.’ Barnum is praised as “the great American showman” for his successes and ingenuity, and his name lives on in the history of the American circus legacy even now.

Childhood and Adolescence

Phineas Taylor Barnum was born in the United States to storekeeper Philo Barnum and Irene Taylor. He used to go to Bethel’s congregational church and attend prayer meetings as a child. For a short time, he worked as a clerk at the Universalist Church in Danbury, Connecticut, and he also spoke at Universalist conferences about Christian Universalism. He worked as a clerk in his father’s country business and owned a fruit and confectionary store before traveling to New York.

Career of P. T. Barnum

He started ‘The Herald of Freedom,’ a weekly newspaper based in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1829 to report on religious tyranny and militant Calvinism. Many libel claims were filed against him because of his publications in ‘The Herald of Freedom,’ which were critical of the church. As a result, he was charged and sentenced to two months in prison.

In 1835, he traveled to New York and started his career as a showman, founding ‘Barnum’s Grand Scientific and Musical Theater,’ his first ‘variety troupe.’ He acquired his first fortune in 1841 when he purchased the Scudder’s American Museum on Broadway and Ann Street in New York City and renamed it ‘Barnum’s American Museum.’
He created the ‘Feejee mermaid’ in 1842, a monster with a monkey head and a fish tail. In addition, he displayed Charles Stratton, a midget known as ‘General Tom Thumb.’

He was the first showman to recruit traditional Native American dancers known as “Fu-Hum-Me” in 1843. These dancers were always able to entertain and draw a large crowd. He toured Europe with ‘General Tom Thumb’ from 1844 to 1845. This journey served as his public relations vehicle, attracting the attention of Queen Victoria and the Czar of Russia.

As a Republican candidate for Fairfield, he was elected to the Connecticut legislature in 1865 and served two terms.
Along with the William Cameron Coup, he founded ‘P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome’ in 1871. At the time, this was the largest circus in the United States.

In 1875, he was elected mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, for a one-year term, during which time he sought to reform the city’s water supply and prostitution regulations. He advertised a show with the famous phrase “The Greatest Show on Earth” in 1881. This was the first circus to use three rings, making it the world’s largest circus and the first to be known as the ‘three-ring circus.’

Major Projects of P. T. Barnum

His ‘Barnum & Bailey Circus’ put on a three-ring show known as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ which was billed as the world’s largest circus.
Cecil B. DeMille directed an Academy Award-winning film based on this circus, titled ‘The Greatest Show on Earth,’ in 1952.

Achievements & Awards

In an American magazine, he was voted 67th among the “100 most significant persons in American history.”

Personal History and Legacy

He married Charity Hallet at the age of 19 and the pair had four children together. He was the first president of the Bridgeport Hospital, which he created in 1878. In 1883, he contributed $50,000 to the Department of Natural History at Tufts University in Massachusetts for the construction of a hall and museum. His autobiography, ‘The Life of P.T. Barnum,’ was published in 1854 and tells the fascinating narrative of his early life and difficulties.

During one of his performances in 1890, he suffered a stroke. He died in his sleep at the age of 80 and is buried in Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Mountain Grove Cemetery. In 1893, a statue was constructed in his honor in Seaside Park, Connecticut. In 1907, the ‘Ringling Brothers’ paid $400,000 for the ‘Barnum and Bailey circus,’ which they united with their own in 1919 to establish the ‘Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.’

Estimated Net Worth

PT is one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs and one of the most well-known. PT Barnum’s net worth is estimated to be $8.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


Just before his death, this well-known American entertainer gave permission for his obituary to be published in a newspaper so that he could read it and, if necessary, contribute to it.