The text in this poster originally appeared in a newspaper advertisement for The Drunkard. It typifies Barnum's skill at promoting the American Museum as simultaneously reputable, educational, and audacious. Barnum manages to titillate potential audience members ("Drunken Orgies") while also reassuring them that the play is both respectable (endorsed by the city's clergymen and "first families) and entertaining ("lively sparks of wit and humor"). The ad is quintessentially Barnum, promising an attraction that is "as amusing as it is instructive."
The poster below reads:
'THE DRUNKARD, or, The Fallen Saved.'
Conceded to be one of the most powerful auxiliaries that the
Temperance Cause has ever received in this country, and to which was
awarded the approbation and countenance of the great body of clergymen,
the religious community at large, and of all the first families in this city.
'The Drunkard' is one of the most perfect and real Pictures of Life
ever placed before the public. In the first act we behold
THE MODERATE DRINKER
In the second act, we have his progress, step by step, to ruin; his
increased appetite for strong drink; the distress of his relations; the
embarrassment of himself and family. In the third act, we have his
in Broadway, his bar-room debauchery, the degradation of himself and
vileness of his associates, loss of time, &c. In the fourth act, we have
DESPAIR AND ATTEMPTED SUICIDE
and in the fifth act, his restitution to sobriety and society, by the aid of
a Temperance Philanthropist. It is a most thrilling and affecting
The whole drama is relieved with lively sparks of wit and humor,
and the comic characters, funny scenes, country dances, songs,
choruses, &c. serve to render the piece as amusing as it is instructive.
As always, the entertainments that take place in this Saloon every
day consist in part of highly moral and instructive Domestic Dramas,
written expressly for this establishment and so constructed as to please
and edify while they possess a powerful reformatory tendancy.
NO BAR OR INTOXICATING DRINKS
allowed upon the premises.
Source: This poster was created expressly by American Social History Project for one of The Lost Museum's 3-D rooms