July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, P.T. Barnum

Born on this day in 1810—in other words, exactly 200 years ago!--Phineas Taylor Barnum grew up to be what some call a great showman—and what others call a shameless huckster.

He opened a circus he billed as “the Greatest Show on Earth” and he presented a "freak show," exhibiting such “curiosities” as midgets, “Siamese twins,” albinos, and giants. He also showed the Feejee Mermaid, which was supposed to be the mummified body of a mermaid, but was really the torso and head of a baby monkey attached to a large fish tail, and covered with paper mache.

Even though Barnum used “hype” or “humbug” to entertain people – and, with fakes such as the “Feejee Mermaid,” one would say to fool people—he also used his knowledge of trickery to debunk people he considered to rip others off—such as mediums who claimed to speak to the dead, but who, Barnum said, exploited grieving people who would pay almost any amount of money to speak with their loved ones again.

P.T. Barnum Said...

“There's a sucker born every minute.”

Want more quotes? Check out this article.

Clown Around!

Put on some clown makeup and have some circus fun. There are activity ideas here.

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