“There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute”

This quote is usually attributed to P.T. Barnum….or WC Fields. Not so. The first person to utter these words of solid business advice was George Hull. Who?

George Hull was a devout atheist who lived in Binghamton, New York in the 1860’s. One night he got into a heated argument with a fundamentalist preacher about ‘how literal is the Bible?’  Preacher said, “every single word.” Hull thought “nutcase” and came up with a scheme that would eventually bring jealous tears to the eyes of old P.T. himself.

Hull knew the Book of Genesis talked about “giants roaming the earth”. He also knew there were countless Christian believers roaming the earth always looking for Biblical “proof” – and they had more faith than sense. So Hull, whose only religion was the quote above, decided to give them “proof” – for a small fee, of course.

In 1868, Hull commissioned a stone carver to sculpt a 10-foot, 5-inch “fossilized giant” for $2600 – a lot of money in those days. Of course the stone carver was no Michelangelo but – hey – you lie in the earth for a few million years and see how you look!  Next, Hull buried his masterpiece at a friend’s farm in Cardiff, NY.  A year later, in 1869, workers were hired to dig a well on the farm.  Instead, they “discovered” the giant.

Naturally, geologists immediately denounced the giant as a ridiculous fraud but, as Hull had guessed, fervent fundamentalists “swore” it was real – “just look at the Bible!” After a short time Hull made over $30,000 – a WHOLE lot of money in those days – charging the faithful 50-cents a peek.

P.T. “Egress” Barnum knew a good fraud when he saw one and offered to buy the Cardiff Giant.  George Hull said “no thanks.”  And then, in what has to be one one of the funniest footnotes in American history, Barnum HAD HIS OWN CARDIFF GIANT CARVED and exhibited it across the country.  In other words, Barnum was making money from a fake of a fake!

Today the giant rests peaceably in the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown, New York.  Not surprisingly, you have to pay an additional fee to see it – just like in the old days.  However, there’s no truth to the rumors that the giant is wrapped in the Shroud of Turin or the snack bar sells “Jesus-Face Tacos” for a buck and a half.

6 Responses to ““There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute””

  1. Bill says:

    I don’t mind religion per se, but you really have to be a nitwit to believe the bible is LITERALLY true in as much as it contradicts itself. The literal truth of the bible is a logical impossbility.

  2. Joseph Belle-Isle says:

    You obviously need to “Get into” Ernst Angely or Jimmy Swaggert, Jarry Fallwell to have the reality of pure faith. I’m real busy right now or I’d drop everything and help. But if you have enough cash on hand for me to keep my other followers happy while I educate you on the fundamentals of fundamentalism-cash in advance of course God don’t want no dummies explaining what he explained already-As a matter of fact you can wipe majic dust off of every libraries copy of their Bible-liography.

  3. Joseph Belle-Isle says:

    A freind of mine in the Union who is an atheist and worked his way up to way-up there white collar-legitimate in the IBEW-studied the tax laws on religions and started his own and got everyone he knew in the union to join his church of the tax me not. He didn’t pay taxes for years. But then somebody from the IRS looked at his file and his church and was a non-believer.

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