James A. Bailey

Registered Site S0504

James A. Bailey

Circus entrepreneur James A. McGinnis was born near this site on July 4, 1847. At fourteen he joined a circus and adopted the name "Bailey". Developing a talent for advertising and management, he bought the Cooper & Bailey Shows which toured, under canvas, the world over. Further success came with Bailey's 1880 purchase of "Little America," the first elephant born in this country. The native Detroiter joined forces with celebrated showman Phineas T. Barnum in 1881. Overshadowed by his more flamboyant partner, Bailey guided the circus to many triumphs. Unlike Barnum who asserted, "The public likes to be humbugged," Bailey said, "Give the people the best... and they will reward you." Barnum died in 1891, and Bailey ran the mammoth three-ring circus until his death in 1906. The circus was then sold to Ringling Brothers which lives on as Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.
photo of James A. Bailey

Erected 1978

Location: Cobo Hall Lobby
Detroit, Wayne County

Prominent People

Latitude: 42.32628, Longitude: -83.04772

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