The Midget


General Tom Thumb

Aka: Charles Sherwood Stratton, the midget

Charles Sherwood Stratton was born Jan. 4, 1838, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Sherwood Edward Stratton, a carpenter, and his wife, Cynthia, "normal" sized adults.

In 1842, P. T. Barnum discovered Charles, who measured 25 inches and weighed 15 pounds, only six pounds more than his birth weight. The monster master has quickly drawn up an hasty contract with the parents, hiring the four-year-old dwarf.

The Strattons traveled with Barnum to New York and were provided with rooms at the American Museum. Charles name was changed, permanently, to General Tom Thumb. Barnum himself educated the child, first in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and then showmanship, dancing, and acting.

Many of Thumb’s performances consisted of him dressing in historical costumes and performing a role for the audience’s amusement. His most convincing role was the French Emperor Napoleon.

In January 1844, Barnum moved to Europe, and brought Tom as the main attraction. He was so popular in England that Thumb made two command appearances before Queen Victoria. The pair went on to tour France, Italy, Greece, and the rest of Europe.

In 1863, on February 10, Tom Thumb married fellow midget Livinia Warren. Barnum hyped the wedding as a "NOW OR NEVER" event. The newlyweds stood atop a grand piano to receive 2,000 guests.

Thumb retired quite wealthy on his earnings and led a peaceful, quite life. He returned to Barnum every so often, and made a couple of world tours, but for the most part he lived out his days happily with his wife. He died of a stroke on July 15, 1883. His funeral was attended by more than 10,000 people.