Why American Newspapers Gave Away the Future

An insider’s assessment of the precipitous decline of large city ...


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P.T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810–1891) was born in Bethel, Connecticut, and as a young man owned a small business and founded a newspaper before moving to New York City. There he began a fabled career in entertainment, first with a variety show and then with a museum that he purchased and renamed for himself. He used the museum to promote hoaxes and human curiosities, such as General Tom Thumb, that kept his name before the public. After economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, followed by years of litigation and public humiliation, he emerged from debt by lecturing around the country. His traveling circus was the source of his enduring fame.