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11 of the biggest lies that made history

These historical lies will make even your biggest lies look harmless.

2. P.T. Barnum’s Circus of Frauds
2. P.T. Barnum’s Circus of Frauds
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Phineas Taylor Barnum created a show of fantastical acts that entertained millions of people.

But if you were to get a backstage pass to the so-called Greatest Show on Earth, you’d find that Mr. Barnum made his money off of white lies, embellishments, and exploitations.

Joice Heth, an elderly former slave, was the first person he exploited for other people’s amusement.

Although slavery was outlawed in New York where he lived, he found a loophole and leased her for a year for $1,000.

He paraded her around on tour as he falsely claimed that she was the 161-year-old former nurse of George Washington.

After she died, he kicked his exploitations up a notch by performing a live autopsy on her to “reveal” that she was only 84 years old.

Others who joined his circus of “natural and national curiosities of the world” were conjoined Chinese twins Chang and Eng, the original “Siamese Twins,” General Tom Thumb, a 25-inch-tall dwarf named Charles Stratton, among many others.

Probably no surprise very few people run away to join the cirucs anymore. Oh, except John Smyth - he chased a life under the Big Top.  



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