Davy Crockett (Legends of the Wild West)
In , he won a seat in Congress representing Tennessee and running as a supporter of the immensely popular Andrew Jackson. Crockett was at first a die-hard supporter of fellow westerner Andrew Jackson , but political intrigues with other Jackson supporters, among them James Polk , eventually derailed their friendship and association. Crockett lost his seat in Congress in when Jackson endorsed his opponent.
In , he won his seat back, this time running as an anti-Jacksonian. Crockett's fame continued to grow. His folksy speeches were very popular and he released an autobiography about young love, bear hunting, and honest politics. A play called The Lion of the West , with a character clearly based on Crockett was popular at the time and was a big hit. In , however, he lost his seat in Congress to Adam Huntsman, who ran as a supporter of Jackson. Crockett knew he was down but not out, but he still wanted to get out of Washington for a while.
In late , Crockett made his way to Texas. The Texas Revolution had just broken out with the first shots fired at the Battle of Gonzales , and Crockett discovered that the people had a great passion and sympathy for Texas. Flocks of men and families were making their way to Texas to fight with the possibility of getting land if the revolution was successful. Many believed Crockett was going there to fight for Texas. He was too good a politician to deny it. If he fought in Texas, his political career would benefit. He heard that the action was centered around San Antonio, so he headed there.
Crockett arrived in Texas in early with a group of volunteers mostly from Tennessee who had made him their de facto leader. The Tennesseans with their long rifles were most welcome reinforcements at the poorly-defended fort. Morale at the Alamo surged, as the men were delighted to have such a famous man among them. The former congressman from Tennessee was disposed of with gruesome anonymity.
His body was dragged onto a funeral pyre with those of the other Alamo defenders, and for three days the stench of burning flesh horrified the citizens of Bexar and brought in circling clouds of buzzards. It was a graceless end, but the beginning of an uncontainable legend. David Crockett, who had come to Texas in search of a new start, had found immortality instead.
Davy Crockett: Why King of the Wild Frontier's legend lives on
Colonel Davy Crockett, recently defeated in his bid for a fourth term in the Congress of the United States, returned to one of his favorite hunting grounds—the taverns of Memphis—on November 1, I told the voters that if they would elect me I would serve them to the best of my ability; but if they did not, they might go to hell, and I would go to Texas. I am on my way now! The crowd shouted in delight—that is, all save the fastidious barkeeper, Neil McCool. The sight of Crockett in muddy boots atop his freshly oil-clothed counter was too much.
In a rage, he lashed out with a club. Crockett had jumped down by then, and McCool managed only to fall over the counter into the arms of a dozen half-drunken revelers. Amid many oaths he ordered everyone out. Early the next morning Crockett and his three companions walked their horses down to the ferry landing at the mouth of the Wolf River. His Memphis friends were still with him, and the group attracted the curious.
Young James Davis watched the warm farewells, somewhat in awe of the noted hunter turned politician. Limus worked his snatch oars as the little flatboat floated lazily down the Wolf, into the Mississippi and toward the distant shore. Despite the frivolity of his Memphis farewell, Crockett was a deeply troubled man.
Wild West Western Facts
He had turned 49 in August, the same month of his electoral defeat. He might well have been one of the most celebrated men in America, but he was barely better off financially than when he had won his first electoral bid as militia colonel in He had always been restless, but now a new and uncharacteristic bitterness marked his temper as he cast about for new opportunities by which to rebuild his shattered fortunes.
Texas was on every American tongue by as a land of grand opportunity. American settlers there were growing increasingly restless under Mexican rule that was at best incompetent and at worst despotic.
Once the Mexican shackles were discarded, there would be plenty of free land for those bold enough to take it. Although he proved an able soldier, rising to the rank of militia sergeant, he cared little for the increasingly one-sided conflict with the Indians or for the rules of martial life. In he married Elizabeth Patton, a young widow with two children of her own, whose husband had been killed in the war with the Creeks.
Crockett took an active role in the formation of a new government in this wilderness country, first serving as magistrate, then as justice of the peace, and finally as town commissioner. In his neighbors elected him colonel of the 57th Militia Regiment and three years later sent him as their representative to the state Legislature. Intelligent and affable, he was endowed with a considerable measure of common sense and an uncommon streak of pure honesty that made him a natural for the rough-and-tumble world of backwoods electioneering.
In , having moved his family to the Obion River country of northwestern Tennessee, he was urged to run for the U. Congress by the mayor of Memphis, Marcus Winchester. Crockett, like Winchester, Polk and Houston, was strongly identified with Andrew Jackson—who would be elected president in —and with the so-called Age of the Common Man.
The more he was pilloried by the Eastern establishment, the more beloved he became everywhere else in the country.
By , after he had won re-election to a second term, even his critics were coming around, especially after he made it clear that he was not to be bound by any party solidarity and would instead vote his conscience at all costs. Crockett had a reserved box seat when The Lion of the West returned from a triumphal London engagement to play Washington in When the buckskin-clad Hackett, wearing a wildcat-skin fur cap, strode onto the stage, he promptly bowed to Crockett. The colonel rose and bowed right back, the audience went wild, and reality and legend melded for a cosmic moment into one.
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By this time Crockett had broken with Jackson, first over squatter pre-emption rights in the western country and then over Indian removal. The refusal of Crockett, the national symbol of the frontier, to go along with the cruel dispossession of the Eastern tribes and their forced removal westward highly embarrassed the Jacksonians. The Jacksonians worked diligently and successfully to defeat Crockett in , but he came back strong to regain his seat in A laudatory biography had appeared in , while Crockett published his autobiography in March The Whigs now sent Crockett on a grand Eastern junket, and a ghost-written account of this tour was published in That same year, the first of some 50 Davy Crockett almanacs appeared under a Nashville imprint.
They interlaced backwoods tall tales with the usual astronomical calculations and weather predictions and quickly became enormously popular. The folks back home in western Tennessee, however, had not elected the colonel to Congress so that he could tour Eastern cities, dine with famous politicians or write books, and they proceeded to make their disappointment in him clear in the August election. His Whig friends promptly deserted him, and Crockett turned westward for redemption.
Davy Crockett | History TV
He had added three more to his party by the time he reached Little Rock on November The city fathers heard of his arrival and sought him out, finding him busily skinning a deer he had just shot. Such mementos of his failed political fortunes held no sentiment for him now. He led his men on to the tiny hamlet of Clarksville, some 25 miles south of the Red River, where his old friend Captain William Becknell lived.
Becknell, the famed father of the Santa Fe Trail, lived on Sulphur Fork Prairie, and Crockett stayed there for several days while a large buffalo-hunting party was organized. Ignoring warnings of Indian war parties, Crockett and his companions pushed farther westward, exploring the country and searching for buffalo. Crockett loved this wide-open prairie country, so different from Tennessee. Crockett called the area Honey Grove because of its swarming bees, a name it came to be forever known by. Many old friends from Tennessee were in the Red River country, and Crockett agreed to meet several of them for a grand hunt at the falls of the Brazos River in December.
News of his coming had preceded him, and yet another dinner in his honor was planned.
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He delighted the Texans with another version of his hell-and-Texas speech. The political situation in Texas was confused, with the provisional government divided into factions favoring the governor, Henry Smith, and the governing council. Crockett, nevertheless, was in an expansive mood when he wrote his daughter from San Augustine, Texas. He had joined the army and planned to set out shortly to join the Texas forces on the Rio Grande.
His mind was on politics, however, rather than martial glory.
Frontiersman, Politician and Defender of the Alamo
I had rather be in my present situation than to be elected to a seat in Congress for life. I am in hopes of making a fortune yet for myself and family, bad as my prospect has been. On January 16 they headed toward San Antonio. There Crockett hoped to meet with Sam Houston, his old friend from early Tennessee politics.
Houston, however, was at Goliad, attempting, without much success, to establish some order to the chaotic Texan army. On January 17 he had ordered Colonel James Bowie to San Antonio with 30 men to destroy the fortifications at the old mission Alamo and withdraw the garrison and artillery eastward. Finally, on January 24, he pushed on toward San Antonio de Bexar. They were met there by Colonel Bowie and his aide Antonio Menchaca.
A speech was naturally in order. Crockett found quarters near the Plaza de Armas and surveyed the town, so different and exotic from what he knew, with its adobe huts, ancient missions and large Mexican population. The ditches that his new friend Bowie was so determined to defend were hardly imposing. The Alamo was a sprawling mission compound founded in by Franciscans as the mission San Antonio de Valero and converted in into a fort for Spanish troops. After the Mexican revolution of , the mission had been abandoned, many of its buildings occupied by local citizens.
Like most of the Spanish missions in the Southwest, there was a large rectangular plaza of about three acres lined by 9- to foot stone walls. A series of rude adobe buildings formed the west wall, facing toward the town, while the east wall was marked by a two-story building called the long barracks. South of these barracks was the ruined church, with foot-high walls.
The roof had collapsed 60 years before. The main gate was west of the church, through a single-story building called the low barracks. Between the church and the low barracks was a yard gap fortified with earth and logs.
This would be the area Crockett would eventually be assigned to defend. View Larger Image. Ask Seller a Question. Publisher: Chelsea House Publications. A hunter, woodsman, and frontiersman who was an excellent shot with a rifle, Davy Crockett's adventures became well-known legend after his death at the siege of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Although he is remembered as an American pioneer, he also forged a career as a politician, serving as a Tennessee state legislator and later as a U.
Crockett had a remarkable life, from running away from home when he was 13 to holding political office with virtually no formal education. The desire for more land led Crockett to journey to Texas, where he joined the volunteer army to offer allegiance to the formation of a free Texas. At the Battle of the Alamo, Mexican general Santa Anna wanted to make an example of those involved in the rebellion; his take no prisoners order resulted in Crockett's execution.
In Davy Crockett, read about a man whose life became a symbol of America's pioneering spirit. Grade 9 Up—Compelling, sometimes controversial, the lives of these high-profile figures have been wellsprings for speculation and rumor. Here, extensive and thoroughly documented research dispels the myths.