David Crockett: The Man, The Legend

Portrait of David "Davy" Crockett | Courtesy of Texas A&M University History Department

Born in 1786 in Greene County, Tennessee, David (Davy) Crockett was a pioneer and politician. Crockett spent his youth in the backwoods of America where many of the stories of his manliness were born. While serving with General Andrew Jackson in 1813 in the campaign against the Creek Indians, Crockett developed an admiration for Jackson that translated into his subsequent interest to follow Jackson into politics. Between 1821 and 1825, he served as a member of the Tennessee state legislature. After his stent in the state legislature, he became a U.S. Congressman in 1827, where he stayed until he was defeated for reelection in 1835. He then moved to Texas. While he is not best known for his political career, he is best known for being an expert frontiersman, and for his heroic last stand during the Battle of the Alamo between the Texians and the Mexicans in 1836. Crockett’s actions at the Alamo is what has etched his name in history and kept the legends of his heroic exploits alive for nearly 200 years.1

During his time as a Congressman, he kept to his roots and used them to gain votes. Instead of dressing as a politician, he appealed to those that grew up in the backwoods of Tennessee, by wearing buckskin shirts and carrying a twist of tobacco in one pocket and a flask in the other. This factored into his fourteen years that he spend in government, as well as the time that he spent with Andrew Jackson.2 He was able to appeal to his fellow backwoodsmen as well as to those of the higher society, which were skills he had also learned from his time with Jackson.

Painting of David Crockett and the Alamo Defenders, by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk | Courtesy of Wiki Images

He was already a legend among many of those he met, especially the stories that spread from his youth in Tennessee to his part in the Creek Indian campaign. For many, he was the equivalent of a movie star; when he and close to a dozen other men rode into San Antonio de Bexar in 1836, all eyes fell on him and his Tennessee Mounted Volunteers, known as Crockett’s Band. While declining all attempts to be given formal command, he proclaimed that he would hold the rank of a private during his short time in Texas.3

At dawn on March 6, 1836, after thirteen days of siege, the Mexican Army stormed the gates of the Alamo. Much mystery still surrounds the exact circumstances of Crockett’s death, whether he died at the gates, shot in the chaos of battle, or, the more popular theory, that he was captured and executed by the Mexican Army at the end of battle, there is one thing that many can agree on: David Crockett will forever be immortalized in Texas as the hero of the Alamo, and in his home state of Tennessee, not only for his actions at the Alamo, but also for his political career for the State of Tennessee.

 

  1. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, January 2016, s.v. “Crockett, Davy.”
  2. Michael Willis, “David Crockett: The Lion of the West,” Kirkus Reviews Vol. 79, (May 2011): 320.
  3. Bob Palmquist, “A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee,” Wild West Vol.29, (February 2017): 4.
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29 Comments

  • For the longest time, I had thought that Crockett was a native Texan, as he is revered as a Texas legend. It was not until a few years ago that I found out that he was from a different state and was just in Texas to help with the revolution. I think that Crockett was a man with a powerful personality who was able to win the respect of many people despite some of his flaws. It is easy to see why he is seen as the legendary figure that most Texans regard him as.

  • I thought it was interesting to learn that Crockett kept his ways after leaving Tennessee. I always, for some reason, thought of him as a Texan. Although he was remembered as a hero for the battle of the Alamo, I really do not understand why he is idolized. As the article mentioned, he sided with Andrew Jackson, who had anti-native American campaigns. Also, the only reason that we fought to keep Texas other than territory was to keep Texas as a slave state.

  • This was a great article and it’s well written. However, David Crockett is one of those characters, in my opinion, that should is over rated and over done. He took part in anti-Native American campaigns and sided with Andrew Jackson who had a brutal Native American policy. He fought in an Independence movement that was, frankly, fought primarily to keep slaves inside Texas since Mexico had abolished slavery. Though, it is admirable that he kept to his ways even after leaving Tennessee.

  • David Crockett is someone who has always facinated me but I have never been able to learn too much about him. Even though he is not a Texan in really any way he is still considered to be a Texas hero because of his actions at the Alamo in San Antonio. He did what hardly anyone has done as a politician. David Crockett was a great man who never forgot where he came from. Unfortunately this article is short and I am not sure if it is because there is just not enough information on his earlier life but I would have liked to know what he was able to accomplish as a politician and what he did to make a change as most politicians are supposed to do.

  • You cant say the Alamo without thinking of David Crockett. Everyone knows exactly who he was and how important he was for helping Texas gain its independence from Mexico. He is such a key person in Texas history that I doubt we will never forget the name, David Crockett.

  • Every time someone mentions the Alamo, I always think of David Crockett. Before reading your article I did not know that Crockett was a Congressman in Tennessee and that he spent so many years as a politician. I found that quite interesting. Also, I found it interesting how he didn’t stray from his roots and would dress in his buckskin shirts, how amazing! Overall, I really enjoyed learning more about David Crockett, a Texas and Tennessee hero. Great Job!

  • The article was a fun one to read because it showed how likeable Crockett was. I was not that familiar with life before the Alamo, so it was interesting to read about his time in the Tennessee legislature. Crockett is an important figure in Texas history, and I feel that you showed that in the article. The article does a great job of putting all the information together and still make it enjoyable to read.

  • Great article! I don’t know much about David Crockett besides his legend at the Alamo so this was an interesting read. I though it was interesting how even when he was congressmen Crockett wore buckskin shirts and carrying around a twist of Tabaco so he could appeal to those who lived in the backwaters of Tennessee. I also didn’t know that he spent fourteen years in the government because of his popularity. overall this was a very ingesting article, I know a lot more about Crockett now than I did before reading this.

  • Amazing article! I absolutely love David Crockett. Growing up my favorite movie was David Crockett starring Fess Parker. I know all about David Crockett. This article was fun to read because i always love to read about my favorite people from history. I even named my dog Crockett after him. This article was awesome and he is my favorite person from Texas History. Great job.

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