"There's a sucker born every minute"(Phrase Origins)
Those of P. T. Barnum's acquaintances who mentioned the subject were unanimous in insisting that he never said this. The closest thing to it that can be found in Barnum's writings is: "I said that the people like to be humbugged when, as in my case, there is no humbuggery except that which consists in throwing up sky-rockets and issuing flaming bills and advertisements to attract public attention to shows which all acknowledge are always clean, moral, instructive, elevating, and give back to their patrons in every case several times their money's worth" (the Bridgeport Standard, 2 Oct. 1885). Captain Alexander Williams, a New York City police inspector at the time, attributed "There's a sucker born every minute, but none of them ever die" to Joseph Bessimer, a notorious confidence trickster of the early 1880s known to the police as "Paper Collar Joe". See _P. T. Barnum: the Legend and the Man_, by A. H. Saxon (Columbia University Press, 1989). "There is a Sucker Born Every Minute" is the title of one of the songs in the 1980 Broadway musical _Barnum_ by Jim Dale.
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