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The Benjamin Harrison Administration: 1889-1893
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Commercial for P.T. Barnum
Commercial for P.T. Barnum
Performed by P.T. Barnum
Recorded 1890
 

Phineas Taylor Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum was born July 5, 1810, in Bethel, CT, the first child of Philo Barnum and his second wife, Irena Taylor. In 1826, after his father died, Barnum began a job as a clerk in a general store in Brooklyn, NY, where he first became enthralled with the grandeur and excitement of the city.

He married Charity Hallet in 1829 in Bethel, and soon became engaged in promotion, press manipulation and show business. After touring the country with various entertainers, he established Barnum's American Museum in the center of old New York. It became one of the most spectacular buildings in the city.

Barnum's first major success was the introduction of General Tom Thumb in 1842. Within two years, they embarked on a tour of Europe. His ultimate affiliation with the circus did not begin until 1870, when he was 60 years old. P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Circus, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus grossed $400,000 in its first year.

Living in Bridgeport with his second wife, Nancy Fish, Barnum became mayor of the city in 1875 and served a single one-year term. In 1877 and 1879, he was elected to represent Bridgeport in the Connecticut General Assembly. He lost a third term in 1880.

In 1887, Barnum invited James Bailey to join him as an equal partner in the new Barnum and Bailey Circus. Two years later, he took the "Greatest Show on Earth" to England.

P. T. Barnum died in his sleep at his Bridgeport home April 7, 1891.

P. T. Barnum and Tom Thumb
Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth Circus Poster
P. T. Barnum and Commodore Nutt
Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth Circus Poster
Portraits of P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) and J.A. Bailey (1847-1906) on a poster advertising 'The Greatest Show on Earth.'
View of the American Museum, Broadway, New York
View of the American Museum, Broadway, New York
Flags and banners fly from the fancily decorated building housing P.T. Barnum's American Museum. The Museum was a popular attraction in New York in the 1850s.
 
P.T. Barnum Circus Poster
P.T. Barnum Circus Poster
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Last modified July 11, 2012