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.
French playwright, spy, arms dealer, revolutionary; 1732—99.
Merchant, Continental congressman, diplomat to France; 1737—89.
French admiral, unsuccessful against British fleet at Newport; 1729—94.
Philadelphia printer, writer, scientist, inventor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat to France; 1706—90.
French sculptor who sometimes created his works from life-masks; 1741—1828.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Lawyer, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, diplomat, third President, founder of the University of Virginia; 1743—1826.
French aristocrat, Continental Army officer, like a son to Washington; 1757—1834.
Diplomat to France, Continental congressman; 1740—92.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)