Barnum, Phineas T.


A nineteenth-century American showman known for his circus, “The Greatest Show on Earth.” His sideshows were particularly notable, even though many of the “freaks” he advertised were hoaxes. After Barnum's death, his circus was absorbed into the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus.

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notes for Barnum, Phineas T.

According to a famous story, when someone pointed out that his customers had reason to be angry because freaks in his show were fakes, Barnum replied, “There's a sucker born every minute.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.