general tom thumb

General Tom Thumb – The Most Famous Midget Born to a hardhearted carpenter in Bridgeport, Connecticut on January 4, 1838, little Charles Sherwood Stratton would go on to be the most famous midget in history. He was the first major attraction promoted by the circus impresario P.T. Library of Congress General Tom Thumb, left, standing next to Lavinia Warren, his future wife, sometime between 1855 and 1865. Barnum upped the weekly salary to an astounding $50 per week (an enormous sum at that time) and Charlie lived with his mom in an apartment above the museum. At the time of General Tom Thumb’s prominence, exhibitions of people’s physical disabilities were seen as totally normal. He bought a luxurious house in New York City, and he made huge sums of money as P.T. His widow remarried 10 years later and lived until 1919. She was known for her appearance in one silent film, The Lilliputians Courtship (1915). Prices for products you order online are based on the price catalog in use at the store that prepares your order for DriveUp & Go™, Pickup or delivery. Barnum quickly dropped the act of the little family by claiming the baby died. Barnum changed the age to avoid accusations of exploitation. © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images. Robert J. McNamara is a history expert and former magazine journalist. And the smashing success in London was followed by performances in other European capitals. Stratton never had a formal education: at the age of 4, he was hired by P.T. “And Mrs. Stratton was greatly surprised to see her son announced on my Museum bills as General Tom Thumb.”, With his typical abandon, Barnum had stretched the truth. The stage name came from English folklore, and crowds loved it. Wikimedia Commons General Tom Thumb’s wedding in New York City in February 1863.

General Tom Thumb’s shows were a sensation in New York City. Charlie Stratton and his mother moved into an apartment in the museum building, and Barnum began teaching the boy how to perform.

General Tom Thumb in highland dress, 1860. Barnum himself described the performance before Queen Victoria in Buckingham Place this way: “[The queen and her court] were standing at the farther end of the room when the doors were thrown open, and the General walked in, looking like a wax doll gifted with the power of locomotion. Charles Stratton was born on January 4, 1838, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a carpenter and a housewife. For a year, the major cities got to see the funny dwarf, who by now reached his maximum height of 3 feet and weighed 70 pounds. Stratton's obituary in The New York Times reported that they did have a child of normal size born in 1869, but that he or she died in 1871. The youngster ate up Barnum’s lessons quickly and the toddler soon became the most popular attraction in the Hall of Living Curiosities. General Tom Thumb: P.T. When Stratton was 5 years old, Barnum began exhibiting him as one of the "wonders" in his popular New York City museum. Charles Stratton was born on January 4, 1838, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a carpenter and a housewife. Biography of General Tom Thumb, Sideshow Performer. Backstage at Barnum’s museum, Charlie was taught how to become a showman. He stopped growing when he reached just six months old and would not begin to grow again until much later on in his life. General Tom Thumb married another of Barnum’s curiosities, Lavinia Warren. General Tom Thumb brought unparalleled joy to at least 50 million people in his lifetime. A year later, along with Barnum, he again toured Europe. His mother took him to a doctor, who couldn't figure out his condition—it was likely a pituitary gland issue, not known at the time. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... General Tom Thumb with his wife, Lavinia Warren, It was, however, Charles Stratton, a man only 25 inches tall who was discovered by Barnum, that proved to be his most profitable exhibit. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience.

His wife, who remarried 10 years later, lived until 1919. When Stratton was 5 years old, Barnum began exhibiting him as one of the "wonders" in his popular New York City museum. Wellcome Library, London/Wikimedia CommonsTom Thumb in 1844 at the age of six. William DeLong is a freelance wordsmith. General Tom Thumb, left, standing next to Lavinia Warren, his future wife, sometime between 1855 and 1865. exhibitions of people’s physical disabilities, Myrtle Corbin, the four-legged girl from Texas. Whether that condition factored into Stratton’s death is uncertain.
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He stopped growingwhen he reached just six months old and would not begin to grow again until much later on in his life. General Tom Thumb had to exit the ballroom, but he couldn’t turn his back to the queen (per royal etiquette rules). Barnum paraded the married couple around, sometimes with a baby in tow. Not only did Barnum and General Tom Thumb get an invitation to perform again, but they also embarked on a three-year tour of Europe following this stint. Upon his death, tens of thousands of people traveled to view his gravesite. Barnum, of course, maximized the trip to London even before leaving New York. P.T. Lavinia wrote in her autobiography that the baby’s “death” was a hoax. When he was discovered at the age of four by P. T. Barnum little Charles stood a mere 25 inches in height and weighed 15 pounds.
By 1856, Barnum decided General Tom Thumb needed an American tour. On their honeymoon trip, General Tom Thumb and Lavinia were guests of President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. In a few of the couple's performances, they held a baby said to have been their own child. Barnum himself would be buried just a few away from his most precious performer. He was not quite five years old when Barnum hired him for his museum, but Barnum publicized him as General Tom Thumb, an 11-year-old dwarf from England. Barnum himself would often appear onstage as a straight man while “The General” would crack jokes.

Contemporary medical experts agree that he and his wife suffered from growth hormone deficiency, a condition related to a faulty pituitary gland in the brain. Barnum, who taught him to sing and dance and do impressions of famous people. “They came to New York, Thanksgiving Day, December 8, 1842,” Barnum recalled in his memoirs.

He then hurried back to New York City to begin promoting his new discovery. Many people saw Barnum’s wedding as a publicity stunt, but the couple insisted that they were in love.

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