World’s Strangest

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General Tom Thumb

You’ve heard of General Tom Thumb, one of P.T. Barmnum’s most famous human exhibits. But how much do you really know about the man born Charles Sherwood Stratton in 1838?

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. His father, long embarrassed by the miniscule stature of his offspring, gladly agreed to consign his son to a month-long trial as an attraction in Barnum’s New York Museum. The agreed rate of pay was $3 as well as room and board. This was a modest financial arrangement but the elder Stratton was probably just as content to simply see his tiny toddler be of some interest and monetary use.

In New York, Barnum renamed his new protege after the Arthurian legend of Sir Tom and, in a nod to noted midget Sir Jeffery Hudson, Barnum opted to christen Tom Thumb a General. He was billed as hailing from Europe and Barnum went to great lengths to teach the young prodigy etiquette, dance, song and keen wit. Dressed in military regalia, General Tom Thumb took to the stage like a fish to water and the public absolutely adored his charm, quips and showmanship.

Stratton lived an eventful and rather well-documented life, as you’ll read in this biography at The Human Marvels. Link


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