P. T. Barnum Elected To Connecticut Legislature

Though a Democrat for years, Barnum eventually broke from his party -- and declined its invitation to run for the state's governor -- because of the party's pro-slavery stance.

He eventually accepted the Republican nomination in the legislature because, as he put it, "It always seemed to me that a man who `takes no interest in politics' is unfit to live in a land where the government rests in the hands of the people."

He was, in fact, so outspoken on behalf of his causes that the fire that destroyed his American Museum in New York in 1865 was thought to be the work of Southern sympathizers.