Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb, 1838–83, American entertainer, whose original name was Charles Sherwood Stratton, b. Bridgeport, Conn. His career as General Tom Thumb began in 1842, when the showman P. T. Barnum gave him the title and arranged with the child's parents for his exhibition as a midget. His height then was less than 2 ft (61 cm), and at no time did it exceed 33 in. (84 cm). Barnum aroused the intense curiosity of people throughout the world by consummately skillful publicity and profitably displayed the general in many countries, bringing Tom Thumb wealth and fame. At the age of 10 the general had already been the guest of President Polk, Queen Victoria, Isabella of Spain, and King Louis Philippe of France. His courtship of Lavinia Warren, a dwarf, led to a fashionable wedding in New York's Grace Church in 1863. In the course of their wedding trip President Lincoln received them at the White House. Thumb and his wife continued to entertain audiences in the United States and abroad until their retirement in 1882. He died at the age of 45, and Mrs. Tom Thumb died at 77.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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