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Dan Rice

Dan Rice

January 23, 1823 – February 22, 1900


Circus Trivia, Did You Know?  

Did You Know, The United States icon "Uncle Sam", was base on the character developed by Dan Rice.

Did You Know, the political term "Jump on the Bandwagon" began when Dan Rice invited Presidential candidate Zachary Taylor to ride on Rice's circus bandwagon. He was also good friends with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.


Circus clown Dan Rice
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Dan Rice Circus Poster
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Dan Rice Circus Poster

Circus pioneer Dan Rice was born as Daniel McLaren 0n January 23, 1823 in New York City.

During his lifetime the name Dan Rice would become one of the most recognizable names in America. He was a clown, circus owner, animal trainer, song writer, political satirist, jockey, dancer, and presidential candidate.

Dan was married at age 17 to his first wife Margaret "Maggie", the couple had two children Catherine and Elizabeth.

Dan's show business career began when he purchased a trained pig name "Lord Byron". Rice and Maggie joined a traveling puppet show in 1840, and was paid $4.00 dollars a week to perform his comedy pig act.

In 1844 Rice joined "Spalding's North American Circus. Dan Rice was an instant hit, he was so popular that in 1848 Spalding started a new circus and called it the "Dan Rice's Circus". After several years with Spalding, Dan started his own show which toured from New Orleans to the New England states. The circus traveled by wagons in the north and by river barges in the south.

In 1853 Dan began wintering his circus in Girard Pennsylvania where a monument to the circus pioneer still stands today in the middle of Girard's Main Street.

In 1860, while in Girard Dan and Maggie were divorced, the following year, Dan now 38 married Charlotte Rebecca McConnell on her 18th birthday November 4, 1861. Rebecca was the daughter of a wealthy businessman whose family were one of the founding families of the Girard.

In 1862 the couple had a daughter, Lottie who tragically, died six months later. In 1868 the Rice's had a son who they named Dan Rice Jr.

During the American cival war years 1861 to 1865, Dan came under the scrutiny of the people of Girard. Since his show performed in both the south and north to which side did he hold allegiance? After the war, Dan provided financial assistance to people in both the North and the South. He helped to rebuild Southern churches and schools and supporting the widows and children of Northern troops who had been killed in the conflict.

In 1868 counting on the popularity of his name Rice made an unsuccessful run for the Presidency of the United States.

In 1881, Dan and Rebecca were divorced and In the years following Rice's fortune began to dwindle and his drinking began to be a problem. After the divorce Rice did not return to Girard.

On February 22, 1900, in Long Branch, Monmouth County New Jersey, an almost penniless Daniel McLaren "Dan Rice" died.

Each year since 1965 the first weekend of August the city of Girard Pennsylvania host the "Dan Rice Days Festival" to celebrate the town's most famous citizen.

Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame   On Jan. 29, 1994 Dan Rice was inducted into the Sarasota's Circus Ring of Fame.


In 1962 Dan Rice was inducted into the International Circus Hall of Fame


Each year since 1965 on the first weekend of August the city of Girard Pennsylvania host the "Dan Rice Days Festival" to celebrate the town's most famous citizen.


Dan Rice
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Dan Rice monument
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Dan Rice monument, Girard, Pa.


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