People Trivia

General Tom Thumb Was The Most Famous Circus 'Freak' of All Time

General Tom Thumb, born Charles Sherwood Stratton, was a dwarf born in the mid-19th century who became a famous circus performer under P.T. Barnum. Stratton started his career as a performer at a very young age, his parents willingly putting their son on public display as a means to earn $3 per week. In the modern era, many would consider the actions of Barnum, Stratton's parents, and the media to be exploitative. Because of his work in the era's "freak shows," Stratton managed to use his disability to travel the world, mingle with royalty, and bring General Tom Thumb's net worth to levels you probably will never reach.

During an age when disabled people had few opportunities and were shunned by society, Stratton used his short stature to entertain others and make a good life for himself and his wife. As one of the most famous circus sideshow performers ever, Stratton achieved a fame that made him recognizable to even Queen Victoria and Abraham Lincoln. Even today, it remains unclear what caused Stratton's short stature. X-rays weren't invented until 12 years after his death, and doctors at the time were mystified by his condition. Though Stratton may have been small, his legacy is anything but.