BARNUM, P.T. (1810-1891)

Flamboyant businessman, circus pioneer, author, politician, philanthropist, and Mayor of Bridgeport, Ct. A one page autograph letter, signed October 9th (no year). “I was delighted in receiving your letter which came just as I was starting for Troy via New York. I shared it with Chapin & he felt highly gratified by your kind appreciation of his services. I thank God & you, that you will give your influence for teetotalism & your dear Holly has also. Depend on it, you can do much good this way, and what are we here for except to do good. I hope you will not hide your light under a bushel… I am off to New York in a few minutes, with my wife… & therefore you must excuse this brief note. As ever thine, P.T. Barnum.” Barnum started his first circus at age 60, and later merged with James Bailey, creating their eponymous company. In the late 1840’s, Barnum swore off alcohol entirely after attending a lecture by a pro-temperance reverend. He remained an avid teetotaler and prohibition advocate for the rest of his life and gave speeches on the evils of liquor. When he opened a theater in Bridgeport, the first play he presented was, “The Drunkard,” a thinly disguised cautionary tale about the dangers of alcohol. An interesting and personal letter from the temperate showman.  $895