The USA Circus

There is quite a history about the circus in America, starting from back in 1793.

These circuses began shortly after America was founded, and wherever the country's population grew and moved, the circus followed. This is a seldom talked about history of America.

England was known to have the earliest origins of the circus in the late 1700s, however, its popularity reached its' peak in the 19th and 20th century America. Not only was the circus a major form of entertainment, it was also a major source of information for the people outside of the cities and metro areas. In the early 1900s, more than 100 circuses were in different parts of the country with an audience of as many as 12,000 people at each one.


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The important people who brought the circus into its' popularity are, Phillip Astley, John Bill Rickets, Pepin and Breschard, P.T. Barnum, Adam Forepaugh and the Ringling Brothers. Phillip Astley was known as the father of the modern circus. John Ricketts founded the first American circus. Pepin and Breschard brought the circus to the west. P.T. Barnum spotlighted the sideshow acts. Adam Forepaugh took the wild west under the big top. The Ringling Brothers are recognized as the kings of the Greatest Show on Earth.

The American circus starts their show by saying, "Step right up, children of all ages!". So, we'll step right up and talk a bit about the circus.

The circus started in America in 1793 in a wooden amphitheatre in Philadelphia, by John Bill Rickets. Good horsemanship and physical endurance grew in the early circus days because these were considered just a part of everyday living.

Circus performers ran their own shows in the beginning. As they became more popular, businessmen took over. The farmers around Somers, New York realized they could combine the menagerie and the circus, and these farmers made a profit from this discovery. Many more joined in as they found out the fortune that could be obtained.

Circuses are well-known with their lion tamers, elephants, trapeze artists, acrobats, many clowns and several sideshow acts. Some of these acts include a bearded lady, a fortune teller, the smallest man and woman, and other unusual acts or people. Circuses have come a long way, and they are still a big draw and have a long way to go.

Copyright Roger Clatin 2005