Colonel David Crockett was born on August 17, 1786 in Tennessee. On the fourth day of school, he ran away (Lord 52) never to return to a formal school (Pyne).
Davy was friendly and well liked. In 1817, he was appointed the a magistrate in western Tennessee where he served fairly and honestly (Lord 50). Soon he was elected the colonel of the local militia, and in 1820 he went to the Tennessee state legislature. While there Crockett found that he could get by with just his warmth and humor. He loved playing practical jokes. Once on a joint stomping campaign in 1823, he used his opponent's speech word-for-word (Lord 50). Still popular, he was elected to the United States Congress representing western Tennessee in 1827. He found he could still get by with his wit and charm. In congress, Davy mainly fought to make sure that squatters could keep the open land that they lived on (Lord 50). Crockett lost his re-election bid in 1831, but won again in 1833.
The Whig party wanted a frontiersman to make the party look better. They thought Crockett was their man. They took him out to dinners, they sponsored his campaigns, and they gave him gifts (Lord 51). Also, Whig ghost writers wrote his speeches (Lord 51). Davy probably relied too heavily on the writers, and in one speech, he called Andrew Jackson "a greater tyrant than Cromwell, Caesar, or Bonaparte" (Lord 51). This got Jackson mad, and he and his friends forced Crockett to lose the election in 1835 (Lord 51). In response, Crockett said, "You can go to hell -- I'm going to Texas" (Wood).
So, Davy Crockett found some friends, packed up, and went to Texas to explore it. Eventually he and his company joined up with the New Orlean Greys and went to the Alamo (Lord 49). During the siege, Crockett tried to keep everyone's spirits up. He was always willing to tell a tale or joke. Every now and then he would challenge John McGregor to a musical duel. Davy would play the fiddle and McGregor the bagpipes. The point was to see who could make the most noise (Lord 117).
There is a debate as to how Crockett died. Tradition says that Crockett died fighting like a hero. However, several Mexicans who attacked the Alamo, including Colonel Enrique de la Peņa, wrote that Davy was among the six men who surrendered and were executed (Baldauf). On the other hand, most early Texan accounts, including Mrs. Dickinson and Joe, say that he died fighting (Lord 207). With no conclusive evidence why not believe in the legend?
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Richard Wright Copyright 1999