First Circus in America
In his short American career John Bill Ricketts managed to establish the first American Circus, befriend President George Washington, tour the East Coast, Canada, and the West Indies with his company, and present America a new genre of entertainment that blended equestrian feats with theatrical performance. Rickettss abilities as a master-rider set the tone for the Circuss immediately succeeding his own. He established equestrian acts as the highlight of the circus, and throughout the early 19th century most circuses followed his paradigm. Executing acts like Flying Mercury and Egyptian Pyramids thrilled voyeurs that appreciated daring horsemanship. While falling into financial ruin by 1799 Ricketts contributed a great deal to both American entertainment and culture. The common household names of Barnum and Bailey, Ringling Brothers, and Cirque de Soleil owe their success to the pathway Ricketts treaded. In Americas adolescent years, Ricketts offered an unprecedented spectacle that the American audience has loved ever since.
(John Bill Ricketts, proprietor, 1793-1800)