Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Davy Crockett: A Tennessee (and American) Folk Hero

David Crockett (August 17, 1786 – March 6, 1836) was a celebrated 19th-century American folk hero, frontiersman, soldier and politician. He is referred to in popular culture as Davy Crockett and after the 1950s by the epithetKing of the Wild Frontier.” He represented Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives, served in the Texas Revolution, and died at the Battle of the Alamo.
Crockett grew up in East Tennessee, where he gained a reputation for hunting and storytelling. After being elected to the rank of colonel in the militia of Lawrence County, Tennessee, he was elected to the Tennessee state legislature in 1821. In 1826, Crockett was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Crockett vehemently opposed many of the policies of President Andrew Jackson, most notably the Indian Removal Act. Crockett's opposition to Jackson's policies led to his defeat in the 1834 elections, prompting his angry departure to Texas shortly thereafter. In early 1836, Crockett took part in the Texas Revolution and was killed at the Battle of the Alamo in March.
Crockett became famous in his own lifetime for larger-than-life exploits popularized by stage plays and almanacs. After his death, he continued to be credited with brazen acts of mythical proportion. These led in the 20th century to television and movie portrayals, and he became one of the best-known American folk heroes, David Crockett, Tennessee bear hunter, politician extraordinary and hero of the Alamo, was one of the first humorists of the South and a trail blazer for the American school of humorous writing. A thorough Tennessean, Crockett knew the State from Hangover Mountain to Reelfoot Lake Although there is much controversy over the authorship of A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee... Written by Himself (1834), the vital brawny qualities of the Colonel are unquestionably present in this hair-raising classic of the Southern frontier.
    After his defeat in the race for Congress against Andrew Jackson's candidate, Crockett announced to the opposition, "You can go to hell, I'm going to Texas." There he wrote Col. Crockett's Exploits and Adventures in Texas (1836). In this book, in his autobiography, and in An Account of Col. Crockett's Tour to the North and down East (1835), Crockett describes how he drank, hunted, speculated, begot children, farmed badly, and, when settlers built cabins near him, moved farther into the wilds.

    One tale tells how Crockett greeted a crowd on his way to Congress. He bragged, "I'm that same David Crockett, fresh from the backwoods, half-horse, half-alligator, a little touched with the snapping turtle; can wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of lightning, and slip without a scratch down a honey locust [tree]."

    Crockett's death is disputed, but it is said he died at the Alamo on March 6, 1876.

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