Otis, James

Boston, MA — Built in 1713, the Old State House was the seat of Massachusetts government in the 18th century. It is the oldest surviving public building in Boston and one of the most important public buildings still standing from the original 13 colonies.

Charles Willson Peale, despite his devotion to the taxonomic and contemplative majesty of the natural world, nevertheless loved novelties and used all sorts of amusements to attract customers to his museum. He eventually resorted to hiring a popular musical performer who played five different instruments simultaneously, using all parts of his body. Following Peale’s death the museum passed into the enterprising hands of P. T. Barnum, becoming part of his traveling circus — a romantic ending for an Enlightenment institution.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)