Inspired by the dancing of Master Juba, the first African-American to dance the jig in the United States, Johnny Diamond became one of the greatest dancers of the nineteenth century. Having established his early reputation as a street dancer in New York's Fly Market, Diamond attained national acclaim after being taking under the direction of influential impresario P. T. Barnum. Making his public debut, at Barnum's Vauxhall Garden, around 1840, he continued to travel, with Barnum, throughout the United States, successfully taking all challengers during lively dance competitions.
Diamond continued to thrill audiences with his athletic dancing for nearly four decades. He died in Philadelphia on October 29, 1885.