Thursday, January 11, 2018

Davy...Davy Crockett.....King of the Wild Frontier!


David Crockett, a legend in his time and since, was born in 1786 in East Tennessee. He knew first-hand the brutalities of frontier life. His grandparents were murdered by Creek and Cherokee Indians before he was born. By twelve years old he was bound out to a cattle drover from whom he had to escape through a snowstorm when the drover forcefully kept Davy past the end of his contract. Not having any luck with formal education, Crockett ran away from home at the age of thirteen in 1799.

Between 1811 and 1813 Crockett fought under General Andrew Jackson in the Creek War. It was his reputation as an Indian fighter and frontiersman that first established his popularity. He used rough, exaggerated images of himself as soldier and hunter to rise to political positions. Although he was admired for being a strong, hard and heroic frontiersman, the obsessive admiration of Davy Crockett was due in large part to his humor.

He was charismatic and possessed the mastery of vernacular coupled with common sense that made him a natural storyteller with the power to enthrall his audience and parody his opponents. He served two terms in the Tennessee legislature and was elected to Congress three times. After years as a Democratic Jacksonian, Crockett broke ties with Jackson in 1828 and became a Whig for the remainder of his political career.

“Do not be uneasy about me. I am among friends. I will close with great respects. Your affectionate father. Farewell."  Those are, in a sense, David Crockett’s last words. They are the closing lines of a letter written from the unstable Mexican province of Texas on January 9, 1836, the last remarks attributed to him that are not the product of hearsay or dim recollection. In less than two months Crockett would die at the Battle of the Alamo, but this letter to his daughter and son-in-law back in Tennessee carries an almost ecstatic tone of bright hopes and new prospects.

Crockett reports his often-problematical health to be excellent. Everywhere he goes he is received as a celebrity, “with open ceremony of friendship” and “hearty welcome.” Texas is bounteous, filled with plentiful timber and clear water and migrating herds of buffalo. He has joined the insurgent Texas army and has already picked out the land he will claim in exchange for his service in the fight against Mexico. He wants all his friends to settle here, and he fully expects to be elected as a member of the convention that will write a constitution for Texas. “I am,” David Crockett declares, “rejoiced at my fate.”

Various sources: historynet, twain.lib.virginia.edu

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