P.T. Barnum's circus of frauds
Phineas Taylor Barnum created a show of fantastical acts that entertained millions of people. But if you were to get a backstage pass to the so-called Greatest Show on Earth, you'd find that Mr. Barnum made his money off of white lies, embellishments, and exploitation. Joice Heth, an elderly Black woman who had previously been enslaved, was the first person he exploited for other people's amusement. Although slavery was outlawed in New York where he lived, he found a loophole and "leased" her for one year for $1,000 from an acquaintance. He paraded her around on tour, claiming that she was the 161-year-old former nurse of George Washington. After she died, he kicked his depravity up a notch by performing a live autopsy on her to "reveal" that she was only 84 years old. Others who joined his circus of "natural and national curiosities of the world" were conjoined Chinese twins Chang and Eng, the original "Siamese Twins," and General Tom Thumb, a 25-inch-tall dwarf named Charles Stratton, among many others. P.T. Barnum's tricks may have been revealed, but these strange mysteries have never been resolved.
11 of the Biggest Lies That Made History, Source:https://www.rd.com/list/biggest-lies-in-history/