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Quotes of the day: P.T. Barnum

Published Friday, July 04, 2014 @ 7:58 PM EDT
Jul 04 2014

Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American showman and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, 'I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me,' and his personal aims were 'to put money in his own coffers.' Barnum is widely, but erroneously, credited with coining the phrase 'There's a sucker born every minute.' (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Ask Bailey what the box office was at the Garden last night. (reported last words)

But however mysterious is nature, however ignorant the doctor, however imperfect the present state of physical science, the patronage and the success of quacks and quackeries are infinitely more wonderful than those of honest and laborious men of science and their careful experiments.

Clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung.

Every crowd has a silver lining.

I am a showman by profession... and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me.

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 my opinion, in a business established by the Creator of our nature. If he worthily fulfills his mission and amuses without corrupting, he need never feel that he has lived in vain.

Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.

Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business.

The best kind of charity is to help those who are willing to help themselves.

The common man, no matter how sharp and tough, actually enjoys having the wool pulled over his eyes, and makes it easier for the puller.

The desire for wealth is nearly universal, and none can say it is not laudable, provided the possessor of it accepts its responsibilities, and uses it as a friend to humanity.

The plan of 'counting the chickens before they are hatched' is an error of ancient date, but it does not seem to improve by age.

The public is a very strange animal, and although a good knowledge of human nature will generally lead a caterer of amusement to hit the people right, they are fickle and ofttimes perverse.

The public is wiser than many imagine.

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 now.


"There's a sucker born every minute."
Commonly attributed to Barnum, there is much testimony of contemporaries that he never actually said this, and in P.T. Barnum Never Did Say 'There's a Sucker Born Every Minute,' R.J. Brown asserts that it actually originated with a banker named David Hannum, in regard to one of Barnum's hoaxes: a replica of the Cardiff Giant.

Categories: P.T. Barnum, Quotes of the day


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