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Kevin J Bochynski <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 6 May 1999 14:40:05 -0400
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I am re-posting this message on behalf of Joe Vitale.


Here's the story on the petrified giant, or Cardiff Giant, as it
appears in my book, "There's A customer Born Every Minute: P.T.
Barnum's Secrets to Business Success" (AMACOM, 1998):

In the 1860s George Hull, a cigar manufacturer, decided to profit
by the country's love for a good hoax. He was a student of archeology,
he desired money, and he knew at least one evangelist of the time was
preaching that giants once roamed the earth. Hull saw an opportunity.
He hired stone cutters to carve a ten-foot tall giant out of some
unusual gypsum quarry he had found.  Hull then buried the fake giant on
his property in Cardiff, New York and waited for the right moment to
"discover" it.
    He didn't have to wait more than six months. In 1869 fossil bones
were unearthed and newspapers covered the story. Hull leaped into
action. He hired two laborers to dig a well on his property, where the
giant had been buried earlier. It didn't take long for the diggers to
hit the statue and run to tell Hull the news of their discovery.
Since the public was already enthusiastic about fossils, curious
about evolution, and mesmerized by the idea that giants once walked the
land, wagons loaded with people started coming to see Hull's giant. By
midday Hull had set up a tent and was charging visitors twenty-five
cents each to see the curiosity. After the newspapers covered the
story, Hull raised his price of admission to fifty cents. Thousands of
people came every day.
Barnum of course heard of this event and sent one of his agents
to buy Hull's giant for $50,000.  Hull refused.  As you know by now,
nothing stopped P.T. Barnum. He sensed that "The Cardiff Giant" was a
fake and hired a crew of workers to build a giant of his own. They did,
and Barnum immediately started displaying it. Thousands of people came
to see Barnum's giant, as well. Barnum even made more news by
proclaiming that Hull's giant was fake while his own was authentic. The
papers gave the two promoters plenty of free advertising.
By this point Hull had sold two-thirds of his interest in The
Cardiff Giant to a banker by the name of David Hannum. It was Hannum
who complained about all the people paying to see Barnum's fake giant
when they could be paying to see his "real" one. Hannum summed up his
feelings by saying, "There’s a sucker born every minute."
Hannum brought Barnum to trial, accusing him of calling his giant
a fake. During the trial, Hannum confessed that The Cardiff Giant was
indeed a hoax. The judge ruled that Barnum could not be sued for
calling Hannum's giant a fake as it really was a fake.
    While Hannum's name has dropped out of most of the history books,
his famous line remains. Unfortunately, people attached it to the only
name they could remember: P.T. Barnum.

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