portrait of P. T. Barnum
(circa 1870)

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Quotes of the Day for 5 July 2003 – P. T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum was born at Bethel, Connecticut on this day in 1810. When his father died in 1825, young Barnum became the sole support of his mother and five siblings. He held a medley of part-time jobs before publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, a project that might have been successful if not for the libel suits. In 1835 he moved to New York City and exhibited a black woman as George Washington's nurse, she was half the 161 years old that Barnum's advertising claimed. Similar stunts included a phony mermaid, the original bearded lady, the legitimate midget General Tom Thumb, the "Swedish Nightingale" Jenny Lind, and other crowd pleasers before starting his circus. He called himself the Prince of Humbug, but the one quote everyone associates with Barnum, "There's a sucker born every minute," is as bogus as Washington's nurse.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing, than by believing too much.

Every crowd has a silver lining.

Money is in some respects life's fire: it is a very excellent servant, but a terrible master.

Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well as now.

This is a trading world and men, women, and children, who cannot live on gravity alone, need something to satisfy their gayer, lighter moods and hours, and he who ministers to this want is in a business established by the Author of our nature.
     - All from Phineas Taylor Barnum, 1810 - 1891

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