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“Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper,” by Paul E. Johnson Essay

“Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper,” by Paul E. Johnson shows the many different attitudes toward Sam Patch. It displays certain attitudes toward Sam Patch and his jumps. Some people are amazed by his jumps and think the world of him; others poke fun at him and use every mishap by Sam to derail him from his practices. Sam Patch didn’t seem to pay much attention to these hateful comments. Sam Patch became a celebrity in America through his many successful jumps. In the beginning, however, his attitude was different as well as the meanings behind each jump than from his later jumps.

Sam Patch’s first major jumps in Paterson at Passaic Falls got the town talking and his name in the newspapers for the first time. Sam Patch leaped from these falls to show that anybody could do something great. Timothy Crane was gathering a large crowd to move a bridge and Sam Patch wanted to use this large crowd to his advantage by drawing their attention away from Crane, and toward himself. Same Patch’s famous motto was “some things can be done as well as others” and Sam wanted people to know that people of the upper class weren’t the only ones who could achieve great things. (pg. 66)

These reasons were all thought up about from Sam’s friends and the witnesses of these jumps. Other rumors were about how he had fallen in love with a girl but she had denied him. He attempted the jump not for fame, not to show the world that anyone could achieve greatness, but to kill himself. (pg. 53) Sam Patch specified that the he continued jumping because of the excitement he gave the crowd because of his stunts and that is where his persistence to show everyone that anybody could achieve something great originated from.┬áSam also identified that the jumps he performed was an art form. This was something that stuck with him at every jump he attempted. Many people were afraid to make the jumps that he completed and those who tried, failed. Some stated how you needed to have super human strength to complete these jumps. Sam simply said that it was an art that few could learn and even fewer could master.

Once Sam moved to Niagara, Sam’s attitudes toward his jumps changed a lot. Throughout the book, it said how people were passing around hats to try to collect money for Sam. Sam also did jumps multiple times at made more money in each successful attempt. Sam originally jumped to show the crowd that anything could be done but as time went on, it seemed that Sam had taken up drinking using the money he had earned from the other jumps. The more money he made, the more he drank it seemed and this made his attempts seem a little less professional.

People are quoted as saying that it seemed as if he was barely conscious before he went to jump and some thought he fell for some of his jumps instead of him actually jumping. The crowds were still increasing, however, and so did his fame. In Rochester, Sam settled down for a while and met a group of people who he consistently drank with and hung out with. In Rochester, Sam’s jumps at the Genesee Falls had the largest crowd gatherings. There were more people there then there were at Niagara Falls.

Sam’s final jump at the Genesee Falls was where he died. Many people saw that he was highly intoxicated and were afraid of the fact that he scheduled this date on Friday the 13th, an omen for many to believe to be a day of doom. When Sam jumped that day you could see that he had messed up his form significantly and that was the reason why did not surface. Sam’s previous jumps were successful because of his form but it seemed that he didn’t stay true to his form and because of this, he passed away.

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