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.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, second President; 1735—1826.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland, senator; 1737—1832.
Lawyer, politician, writer, militia officer, signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1732—1808.
Philadelphia printer, writer, scientist, inventor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat to France; 1706—90.
Washington’s aide-de-camp, lawyer, contributor to the Federalist Papers, Secretary of the Treasury; 1755/1757—1804.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Constitutionalist, congressman, Secretary of State, fourth President; 1751—1836.
Soldier, lawyer, politician, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1755—1835.
Merchant, financier; helped draft then stylized the Constitution; 1752—1816.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Financier of the Revolution”; 1734—1806.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)