By Eric D. Lehman
When P. T. Barnum met twenty-five-inch-tall Charles Stratton at a Bridgeport, Connecticut resort in 1843, the most very important partnerships in leisure historical past was once born. With Barnum’s promotional abilities and the miniature Stratton’s comedic skills, they charmed a Who’s Who of the nineteenth century, from Queen Victoria to Charles Dickens to Abraham Lincoln. loved world wide as “General Tom Thumb,” Stratton performed to sold-out exhibits for nearly 40 years. From his days as a precocious baby famous person to his tragic early dying, Becoming Tom Thumb tells the complete tale of this iconic determine for the 1st time. It info his triumphs at the long island level, his epic famous person marriage ceremony, and his around-the-world travel, drawing on newly on hand basic assets and interviews. From the mansions of Paris to the deserts of Australia, Stratton’s specific model of yank comedy not just earned him the accolades of thousands of fanatics, it helped stream little humans out of the aspect convey and into the lime light.
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Extra resources for Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity
Barnum would perhaps redeem himself for incidents like this later in life, when he became a passionate abolitionist and joined the Connecticut legislature specifically to vote for the rights of African Americans. 36 Though other comedians continued to use blackface minstrelsy as a way to poke fun at African Americans throughout the Civil War and after, Charles seems to have used racially charged humor less often than his contemporaries, despite this offensive incident. By the end of their first year together, Barnum probably began to understand how much of his success was wrapped up in Charles’s performances and that while he was making this “dwarf ” a fortune, the dwarf was doing the same for him.
Only a year before, the first “blackface” performance had appeared in New York’s Bowery Amphitheater at the same time Charles was appearing at the American Museum. Blackface actors would apply a mask of burnt cork and act as racial stereotypes to humor the all-white audiences. Building on earlier blackface comedians and singers, as well as “whiteface” clowns, Dan Emmet’s Virginia Minstrels caricatured African-American behavior and speech with malapropisms and rhetorical absurdity, gave mock sermons and political orations, sang plantation songs, and lampooned both black and white cultures.
But in this instance I experienced none of this feeling. General Tom Thumb (as they call him) is a handsome, well-formed, and well-proportioned little gentleman, lively, agreeable, sprightly, and talkative, with no deficiency of intellect . . His hand is about the size of half a dollar and his foot three inches in length, and in walking alongside of him, the top of his head did not reach above my knee. When I entered the room he came up to me, offered his hand, and said “How d’ye do, Mr. ” Philip Hone, the wealthy former mayor of New York, saw Charles a few months later.
Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Dawn of American Celebrity by Eric D. Lehman