P. T. Barnum (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Article abstract: With a strong business sense and the ability to take huge risks, P. T. Barnum created the modern museum and the musical concert, converted the tent carnival into the three-ring circus, and ran for a variety of political offices, serving for two terms on the Connecticut legislature and for one as a mayor of Bridgeport.
Phineas Taylor Barnum was born on July 5, 1810, in Bethel, Connecticut. Throughout his life, Barnum always regretted that he had not been born on the Fourth of July, the perfect birth date for the man who would become one of America’s first showmen. He was the sixth child of Philo and Irene Barnum, Philo’s second wife. Barnum was named for his maternal grandfather, Phineas (a biblical name meaning “brazen mouth”) Taylor. As Barnum’s life progressed, it turned out that the name fit him and that the ancestor he was named for would influence Barnum unlike anyone else in his life.
As a boy, Barnum looked to his grandfather Phineas for amusement. Phineas Taylor, a great practical joker whose antics helped liven up the harsh New England winters, would go further than most to create his little jokes and hoaxes that he concocted to weather the stern Calvinism of his day. When Barnum was christened, grandfather Phineas deeded to him five acres of land called Ivy Island. Phineas liked to brag to others in Barnum’s presence that, because of that land, Barnum would...
(The entire section is 2469 words.)
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