The next “Polk’s America” program will be held on Tuesday, May 22 in the parish hall of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in downtown Columbia. Zacharie Kinslow will present “Making the World’s First Superstar: Charles Stratton, P. T. Barnum, and the Birth of Modern Celebrity.”
Born on January 4, 1838, Charles Sherwood Stratton developed and grew normally for the first six months of his life, but then suddenly stopped growing. Standing only 25 inches tall, Stratton was approached by the showman P. T. Barnum to perform at his American Museum in New York. Barnum billed young Stratton as "General Tom Thumb: The World's Smallest Man." Through promotion and deceit, Stratton was able to entertain European kings and queens, meet three American presidents, embark on the first world tour ever taken by an entertainer, and truly become history's first superstar. Come one, come all to hear a story of exploitation, tragedy, wealth, and fame. Come and hear the story of the real General Tom Thumb.
A Polk Home employee since 2015, Zacharie Kinslow received an associate's degree in history from Columbia State Community College and a bachelor's degree from Martin Methodist College, and is currently pursuing a master's degree from Austin Peay State University. His article "Enslaved and Entrenched: The Complex Life of Elias Polk" was published online by the White House Historical Association in February. He has recently accepted a position as a graduate intern working on the Martin Van Buren Presidential Papers at Cumberland University.
Held on the fourth Tuesday of every month except December, “Polk’s America” lectures are free and open to the public. Refreshments are served.