DAVID CROCKETT


David Crockett, a legend in his time and since, was born in 1786 in East Tennessee. He knew first-hand the brutalities of frontier life. His grandparents were murdered by Creek and Cherokee Indians before he was born. By twelve years old he was bound out to a cattle drover from whom he had to escape through a snowstorm when the drover forcefully kept Davy past the end of his contract. Not having any luck with formal education, Crockett ran away from home at the age of thirteen in 1799.

Between 1811 and 1813 Crockett fought under General Andrew Jackson in the Creek War. It was his reputation as an Indian fighter and frontiersman that first established his popularity. He used rough, exaggerated images of himself as soldier and hunter to rise to political positions. Although he was admired for being a strong, hard and heroic frontiersman, the obsessive admiration of Davy Crockett was due in large part to his humor. He was charismatic and possessed the mastery of vernacular coupled with common sense that made him a natural storyteller with the power to enthrall his audience and parody his opponents. He served two terms in the Tennessee legislature and was elected to Congress three times. After years as a Democratic Jacksonian, Crockett broke ties with Jackson in 1828 and became a Whig for the remainder of his political career.

A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett (1834) is the autobiography most likely to be the actual work of Crockett; edited by Thomas Chilton. Much of the other writing attributed to Crockett was actually penned by ghost writers (presumably due to Crockett's lack of formal education) and was approved by Crockett before publication. "Bear Hunting in Tennessee" is a story from A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett that emphasized Crockett's reputation as a great bear hunter-- one of the first mighty hunters in Southwestern humor. Unlike Thorpe's later creation of the mighty hunter, Jim Doggett, Crockett's role is used to further the myth that allowed Crockett to become a legend of the old West within his lifetime and for years to come.