“Throughout the day no time for memorandums now. Go ahead! Liberty and Independence forever.” – Davy Crockett’s diary, March 5, 1836 – his last entry.
Few characters from American history are more colorfully remembered than Davy Crockett (August 17, 1786 – March 6, 1836); yet while there is no evidence that he did in fact “kill him a bear when he was only 3”, Crockett’s actual exploits were rich enough to need no embellishment.
Born on what was then considered frontier in Greene County, Tennessee, Crockett was the 5th of nine children. He learned to hunt and became an expert shot; his specialty was, of course, bear hunting: he claimed to have killed 105 in one year alone. While a teenager, he traveled around Tennessee and Virginia on a cattle drive, having run away from home fearing a beating from his father after skipping school. It would be several years before he would learn to read and write, but throughout his life, he was known for a homespun wit and backwoods vernacular that made his storytelling so popular.
After working to help his father get out of debt, Crockett went to start a family of his own. He eventually fought in the Creek Indian Wars under Andrew Jackson, rising to the rank of Colonel in the Tennessee Militia. Returning from fighting, Crockett began moving west in Tennessee in search of more privacy. He continued his bear hunting and storytelling, and his popularity led him to be chosen as his county’s magistrate and later elected to two terms in the state legislature – even though he later admitted that he didn’t know what the legislature was when he was first convinced to run.
Crockett then ran for the United States Congress. He lost his first run in 1824 but was successful in his second attempt two years later. Drawing on his reputation with a gun, he campaigned as a “straight shooter”. Originally an ally of President Andrew Jackson, a fellow Tennessean, Crockett became disillusioned with what he saw as Jacksonian heavy-handedness, particularly regarding land reform and the Indian Removal Act. In response, Crockett broke ties with Jackson and joined the Whigs in opposition to what he saw as affronts to liberty, and he was defeated in his quest for a 3rd consecutive term in Congress.
In 1832, Crockett was elected to the Congress again from a different Tennessee district. His Congressional stands against Jackson and the popularity he gained from a speaking tour to promote his autobiography began some talk of Crockett as a potential Whig Presidential candidate in the 1836 election; however, Jacksonian allies in Tennessee managed to derail his 1834 re-election to Congress, resulting in his famous quote that “you all may go to hell, and I will go to Texas.”
Inspired by the revolution against Mexico, Crockett joined the fight for Texas independence. He came to the Alamo approximately 2 weeks before Santa Anna began his famous siege. His death at the Alamo ended the life of a true American original.
(Author’s note: The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation maintains the “David Crockett Birthplace State Park, as history has been updated to reflect what was apparently his preferred name. The author has chosen to retain his more familiar moniker.)
Born in the same county as Davy Crockett in East Tennessee, Dave found his way to Texas where he works in the petrochemical industry. He’s written and spoken about politics on various media outlets including Fox, ABC, and Townhall. He is a graduate of Tennessee Tech with a degree in chemical engineering. Dave writes a popular feature at USDR called “Dave Smith Said That”. Follow Dave on Twitter: @semperlibertas.