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The autobiography of a flea online

Life[ edit ] Early life and career[ edit ] Barnum was born in Bethel , Connecticut, the son of innkeeper, tailor and store-keeper Philo Barnum — and second wife Irene Taylor. He was the third great-grandson of Thomas Barnum — , the English immigrant ancestor of the Barnum family in North America. His maternal grandfather Phineas Taylor was a Whig, legislator, landowner, justice of the peace, and lottery schemer, and he had a great influence on his favourite grandson.

Barnum was adept at arithmetic but hated physical work. He started as a store-keeper. He was involved with the first lottery mania in the United States. He became active in local politics and advocated against blue laws promulgated by Calvinists who sought to restrict gambling and travel. His editorials against church elders led to libel suits and a prosecution which resulted in imprisonment for two months, but he became a champion of the liberal movement upon his release.

Heth died in February , at no more than 80 years old. Near the end of her life, Barnum had worked her for 10 to 12 hours a day, and after her death he hosted a live autopsy of her body in a New York Saloon. Barnum improved the attraction, renamed "Barnum's American Museum," upgrading the building and adding exhibits, and it became a popular showplace. Barnum added a lighthouse lamp which attracted attention up and down Broadway and flags along the roof's edge that attracted attention in daytime.

From between the upper windows, giant paintings of animals drew attention from pedestrians. The roof was transformed to a strolling garden with a view of the city, where he launched hot-air balloon rides daily. A changing series of live acts and curiosities, including albinos, giants, little people, "fat boys,"[ clarification needed ] jugglers, magicians, exotic women , detailed models of cities and famous battles, and, eventually, a menagerie of animals were added to the exhibits of stuffed animals.

Feejee mermaid and Tom Thumb[ edit ] newspaper advertisement for Barnum's American Museum located on Ann Street in Manhattan In , Barnum introduced his first major hoax, a creature with the head of a monkey and the tail of a fish, known as the "Feejee" mermaid. Barnum leased the "mermaid" from fellow museum owner Moses Kimball of Boston.

Kimball became his friend, confidant, and collaborator. I don't believe in duping the public, but I believe in first attracting and then pleasing them. Barnum followed that with the exhibition of Charles Stratton, the dwarf " General Tom Thumb " "the Smallest Person that ever Walked Alone" who was then four years of age but was stated to be With heavy coaching and natural talent, the boy was taught to imitate people from Hercules to Napoleon.

By five, he was drinking wine and by seven smoking cigars for the public's amusement. During —45, Barnum toured with General Tom Thumb in Europe and met Queen Victoria , who was amused [13] and saddened by the little man, and the event was a publicity coup.

It opened the door to visits from royalty across Europe including the Czar of Russia and let him acquire dozens of attractions, including automatons and other mechanical marvels. He was almost able to buy the birth home of William Shakespeare. Barnum spent about three years abroad with Thumb.

Barnum went on a spending spree, buying other museums, including Peale's museum in Philadelphia, [14] the nation's first major museum. By late , Barnum's Museum was drawing , visitors a year. She was unpretentious, shy and devout, and possessed a crystal-clear soprano voice projected with a wistful quality and earnestness that audiences found touching.

Barnum had never heard her and conceded to being unmusical himself. He knew that his risk was great, noting: Barnum agreed, and she accepted the offer, which would permit her to raise a huge fund for charities, principally endowing schools for poor children in Sweden. As a result of Barnum's months of preparations, Lind was a celebrity even before she arrived in the U. She was determined to accumulate as much money as possible for her charities.

Washington Irving proclaimed, "She is enough to counterbalance, of herself, all the evil that the world is threatened with by the great convention of women. So God save Jenny Lind! The enthusiasm of the public was so strong that the American press coined the term "Lind mania. By early , Lind had become uncomfortable with Barnum's relentless marketing of the tour, and she invoked a contractual right to sever her ties with him.

They parted amicably, and she continued the tour for nearly a year under her own management. Widely seen as "dens of evil," Barnum wanted to position them as palaces of edification and delight, and as respectable middle-class entertainment. He opened with The Drunkard , a thinly disguised temperance lecture he had become a teetotaler after returning from Europe. He followed that with melodramas , farces , and historical plays, put on by highly regarded actors.

He watered down Shakespearean plays and others such as Uncle Tom's Cabin to make them family entertainment. In , he started a pictorial weekly newspaper Illustrated News and a year later completed his autobiography, which through many revisions, sold more than one million copies.

Mark Twain loved the book but the British Examiner thought it "trashy" and "offensive" and "inspired He made substantial loans to the Jerome Clock Company, to get it to move to his new industrial area.

But by , the company went bankrupt, taking Barnum's wealth with it. This started four years of litigation and public humiliation. Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed that Barnum's downfall showed "the gods visible again" and other critics celebrated Barnum's moral comeuppance.

But his friends supported him, and Tom Thumb, now touring on his own, offered his services and they undertook another European tour. Barnum also started a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker. By , he emerged from debt and built a mansion "Lindencroft" his palace " Iranistan " had burnt down in and he resumed ownership of his museum.

Barnum with Commodore Nutt , photograph by Charles DeForest Fredricks Despite critics who predicted he could not revive the magic, Barnum went on to greater success. He created America's first aquarium and expanded the wax figure department of the museum. He created a rogues gallery.

The collections expanded to four buildings and he published a "Guide Book to the Museum" which claimed , 'curiosities. The Twins had had a touring career on their own and went to live on a North Carolina plantation with their families and slaves, under the name of "Bunker. Also in , Barnum introduced the "man-monkey" William Henry Johnson, a microcephalic black dwarf who spoke a mysterious language created by Barnum.

During the Civil War , Barnum's museum drew large audiences seeking diversion from the conflict. He added pro-Unionist exhibits, lectures, and dramas, and he demonstrated commitment to the cause. For example, in Barnum hired Pauline Cushman , an actress who had served as a spy for the Union, to lecture about her "thrilling adventures" behind Confederate lines. Barnum's Unionist sympathies incited a Confederate arsonist to start a fire in On July 13, , Barnum's American Museum burned to the ground from a fire of unknown origin.

Barnum re-established the Museum at another location in New York City, but this too was destroyed by fire in March This time the loss was too great, and Barnum retired from the museum business.

January Barnum did not enter the circus business until he was 60 years old. Despite more fires, train disasters, and other setbacks, Barnum plowed ahead, aided by circus professionals who ran the daily operations. Barnum became known as the Shakespeare of Advertising[ citation needed ], due to his innovative and impressive ideas. He knew how to draw patrons in, by giving them a glimpse of something that had never been seen before. He was, at times, accused of being deceptive and promoting false advertising.

His friend, William C. Coup , helped him get railroad cars to make tour traveling easier. Given the lack of paved highways in America, this turned out to be a shrewd business move that vastly extended Barnum's geographical reach.

In this new field, Barnum leaned more on the advice of Coup, Bailey, and other business partners, most of whom were young enough to be his sons. Barnum eventually gave up his copyright to allow other printers to sell inexpensive editions. At the end of the 19th century the number of copies printed was second only to the New Testament in North America. Stephens Often referred to as the "Prince of Humbugs," Barnum saw nothing wrong in entertainers or vendors using hoaxes or " humbug ," as he termed it in promotional material, as long as the public was getting value for money.

However, he was contemptuous of those who made money through fraudulent deceptions , especially the spiritualist mediums popular in his day, testifying against noted spirit photographer William H.

Mumler in his trial for fraud. Prefiguring illusionists like Harry Houdini , Barnum exposed "the tricks of the trade" used by mediums to cheat the bereaved.

Role in politics and minstrel shows[ edit ] Barnum was significantly involved in politics, focusing on race, slavery, and sectionalism in the period leading up to the American Civil War. He had some of his first success as an impresario through Joice Heth, a slave he hired. Around , he was involved in a hoax about a weed that would turn black people white. Barnum's minstrel shows often used double-edged humor. While replete with black stereotypes, Barnum's shows satirized as in a stump speech in which a black phrenologist like all minstrel performers, a white man in blackface made a dialect speech parodying lectures given at the time to "prove" the superiority of the white race: Conway's politically watered-down stage version of Harriet Beecher Stowe 's Uncle Tom's Cabin ; the play, at Barnum's American Museum, gave the story a happy ending, with Tom and other slaves freed.

The success led to a play based on Stowe's Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp. His opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of , which supported slavery, led him to leave the Democratic Party to become a member of the new anti-slavery Republican Party.

He had evolved from a man of common stereotypes of the s to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot — it is still an immortal spirit. Supreme Court Griswold v. In , Barnum as mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital , founded in , and was its first president. Less known are Barnum's significant contributions to Tufts University.

Barnum was appointed to the Board of Trustees prior to the University's founding and made several significant contributions to the fledgling institution. Iranistan , Lindencroft, Waldemere, and Marina. Iranistan was the most notable: This mansion was built but burned down in

The autobiography of a flea online

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