Barnum In Jail?


Do you know anything about the rumor that P.T. Barnum once owned his own newspaper and was sent to jail for what he wrote?

M. Mello, New Britain Connecticut


The information pertaining to P.T. Barnum being jailed for his writings is in fact not a rumor. When a local Newspaper in Danbury, CT continually refused to publish his writings Barnum then decided to start his own newspaper.


In 1831, at the age of 21 Barnum bought his own press and began his newspaper called The Herald Of Freedom. Having the ability to control the content within his own newspaper Barnum took advantage of the opportunity and began publishing his thoughts on the local government and church practices. He soon came under fire for publishing stories that many people considered to be libelous.


These writings landed him in court three times. The first case resulted in several hundreds of dollars in fines, the second was withdrawn and the third landed him in jail for sixty days.


His third appearance before the court found Barnum charged with publishing libelous information after accusing a local minister of usury, which is specifically condemned within the bible. These accusations were not taken lightly in a time where many people were still considered God-fearing churchgoers. After his trial where he was found guilty Barnum was ordered to pay a one hundred dollar fine and spend sixty days in the Danbury jail.


Being P.T. Barnum though, his stay was certainly out of the ordinary. Barnum had the walls of his cell adorned with beautiful wallpaper and carpeting laid down to ensure his sixty day sentence would be a comfortable one.


The day of his release also reflected the flamboyant P.T. Barnum style. Barnum had scheduled a grand celebration which included a brass band, men on horseback and carriages full of his supporters to accompany him in his horse drawn coach from the Danbury jail to his home in Bethel.



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