Heth was blind and paralyzed, but happily told stories about her "dear little George," which gave Barnum dollar signs in his eyes. Slavery was illegal in New York, but Barnum, ever the shrewd businessman, found a loophole that would legally allow him to "rent" a slave, so he paid $1,000 to permanently lease Heth. They toured the northeast, having Heth work 10-12 hours a day telling anecdotes about working for Washington. Which, of course, she never did. When the public figured that out and ticket sales began to slip, an "anonymous" letter was sent to a Boston newspaper claiming that Heth was in fact an automaton, causing a surge in attendance. Apparently, the one thing more popular than an immortal slave is an immortal robot slave.
When Tom Thumb, arguably the most famous Barnum performer, died, Barnum personally paid for a massive monument topped with a life-sized statue to be placed at his grave. When Heth died, on the other hand, Barnum held a public autopsy and charged 50 cents per head. Those people got a front-row seat to the moment when the physician performing the autopsy confirmed that Joice couldn't have been older than 80, and Barnum couldn't be more full of crap.