P.T. Barnum made a fortune selling fantasies under his eponymous Grand Scientific & Musical Theater, American Museum, and the circus, which was reputed to be “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Often entrepreneurial, he also invented the “Big Top” and filled it with side shows that featured midgets, Siamese twins, and other imagination-stretching anomalies.
Once, while he was touring Europe with the not-quite three-foot tall Tom Thumb, Barnum encountered Miss Jenny Lind, the celebrated “Swedish Nightingale.” She was an operatic singer with a great following on the continent. Barnum quickly signed her for a national tour of America, and on September 1, 1850, he showed the world just how far his tastes reached.
The trip was a triumph.
As someone once said of him, P.T. Barnum was “Disney before Disney.”
For more information the Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Life of P.T. Barnum by Phineas T. Barnum, himself.
Allegedly, Peter Minuit purchased New York City from the Algonquin Indians for a few baubles in 1626, and then renamed it New Amsterdam to honor its newly acquired Dutch heritage.
Thirty-eight years later–on September 8, 1664—Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Netherlands, surrendered the territory to an English naval squadron, and changed the name to venerate the Duke of York.
According to History.com, “in 1686 it became the first city in the colonies to receive a royal charter. After the American Revolution, it became the first capital of the United States.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto.
In 1845 the U.S. government annexed Texas, which set a feud—in—motion with Mexico. President James K. Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor to occupy the disputed territory along the Rio Grande River; meanwhile, the Mexican army attacked Taylor’s troops, and America declared war.
Eventually, General Winfield Scott invaded Mexico with an army of 10,000–including 400 Marines–and won the day. He landed near Vera Cruz on the Gulf of Mexico and defeated their forces. Then, he moved on to Mexico City, and won his final victory at a fortified military academy known as the Halls of Montezuma; there, he raised the American flag on September 14, 1847, and declared victory.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Mexican War, 1846-1848 by K. Jack Bauer.
History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.