Monday, August 17, 2009

“…You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” - Davy Crockett’s Birthday (1786-1836)

Today, Davy, or David as he preferred to be called, Crockett would have been 223 years old. Davy Crocket is a great example of classic American myth making. Known as the “King of the Wild Frontier,” Crockett fought under the leadership of Andrew Jackson in the Creek Wars, served in Congress, and eventually died at the Alamo. His prowess as a frontiersman was legendary in his own time, as was his ability to follow his own conscience in spite of public pressure to do the contrary. Examples of this commitment to following his own beliefs include his decision not to support Indian removal, even at the risk of publicly contradicting the policies of his former militia commander, President Andrew Jackson. This public refusal to support Jackson’s policy of Indian Removal prevented Crockett’s re-election to Congress in 1831. Crockett published his imaginatively titled autobiography A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett. Written by Himself in 1834. Some claim that his travels outside of his district to promote his book kept him from being re-elected to Congress in 1835. Crockett explained this time in his life saying “I told the people of my district that I would serve them as faithfully as I had done; but if not…you may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” Go to Texas he did, where he died famously at the Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836.

Famous during his life for his frontiersman background and feats, the myth of Davy Crockett gained new life in 1955 when Walt Disney produced a television series about Crockett starring Fess Parker. The television series showed Crockett as a rugged frontiersman (he did wear a coonskin cap after all) who fought Indians, served in Congress, and eventually died heroically at the Alamo. While historians may spend years separating the reality of Crockett’s life from the myth, here is the theme song to Disney’s show celebrating the supposed feats of Davy Crockett “King of the Wild Frontier.”

[Image via hartransom]

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