Many of the stories about Davy Crockett (1786-1836) are wrapped up in myth and masculinity, much of which was propagated by Crockett's own hand. He wrote an autobiography, aptly titled A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee, which detailed - and perhaps embellished - life on the American frontier.
Davy Crockett's stories became wrapped up in the frontier, manliness, and American strength, promoting a sense of machismo that contrasts heavily with its modern conception. As a frontiersman, soldier, and politician, Davy Crockett achieved folk hero status soon after his passing in 1836, and his reputation continued to grow throughout the 20th century.
The best Davy Crockett stories demonstrate the many lives he led and the challenges he faced - with some questionable details and antiquated mores mixed in.
After The Passing Of His Wife, Crockett Remarried For The Benefit Of His Children
Crockett's wife Polly perished soon after he returned from fighting the Creek. When Polly passed in 1815, Crockett could only watch as illness "tore from my children an affectionate good mother, and from me a tender and loving wife."
Crockett was left as a widower with three young children. His daughter Margaret was only an infant. To try to ease the burden on himself and the children, he invited his younger brother and his family to live with him. Unfortunately, "it wasn't all like the care of a mother. And though their company was to me in every respect like that of a brother and sister, yet it fell far short of being like that of a wife. So I came to the conclusion it wouldn't do, but that I must have another wife."
Circumstances being what they were, Crockett's thoughts turned to a widow who lived nearby. He began to visit the woman, Elizabeth Patton, and after discovering his "company wasn't at all disagreeable to her," he decided he "could treat her children with so much friendship as to make her a good stepmother." They married a short time later.
He Tackled A Would-Be Presidential Assassin
Davy Crockett served as a Tennessee congressman several times during the 1820s and 1830s. As his political career developed, his relationship with Andrew Jackson went from loyal fellow soldier to opponent.
But whatever political differences existed between the men didn't prevent Crockett from coming to Jackson's aid in 1835. Then-President Jackson was visiting the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, for the funeral of South Carolina Congressman Warren Davis. Crockett also attended the service, and when would-be assassin Richard Lawrence drew two side arms and fired them at Jackson, Crockett was one of the men who wrestled the assailant to the ground.
As several men subdued Lawrence, Jackson reportedly beat him with his cane. Crockett later said of the event: "I wanted to see the damnedest villain in the world - and now I've seen him."
He Once Copied A Political Opponent's Speech Verbatim
Perceived as uneducated and unrefined by his political rivals, Davy Crockett used his frontiersman persona to his advantage. His charm and wit on the campaign trail garnered him great favor. Crockett was known to incorporate humor into his speeches and take jabs at his opponents as well. When he ran against William Edward Butler for a General Assembly seat in Tennessee in 1823, he insisted on speaking first at a campaign stop. Crockett, who usually spoke last, proceeded to recite one of Butler's stock speeches word-for-word, embarrassing his speechless opponent.
Butler, a nephew-in-law to Andrew Jackson, was much better educated than Crockett. Even Crockett considered him "a clever fellow, and I have often said he was the most talented man I ever run against for any office." In the end, Crockett won "by a majority of two hundred and forty-seven votes, and was again returned as a member of the Legislature from a new region of the country, without losing a session."
During another campaign, Crockett mocked his opponent's "peculiarly good-humored smile." Crockett admitted that while the man "may get some votes by grinning, for he can outgrin me," voters needed to "be awake - look sharp - and do not let him grin you out of your votes."
He Used Tobacco And Liquor As Campaign Props
Crockett was very open about his campaign tactics:
[I] would go prepared to put every man on as good footing when I left him as I found him on. I would therefore have me a large buckskin hunting-shirt made, with a couple of pockets holding about a peck each; and that in one I would carry a great big twist of tobacco, and in the other my bottle of liquor; for I knowed when I met a man and offered him a dram, he would throw out his quid of tobacco to take one, and after he had taken his horn, I would out with my twist and give him another chaw.
Based on other comments Crockett made, he apparently wasn't a big fan of drinking. As a youth, he stopped working for a man who ran "a place where a heap of bad company met to drink and gamble, and I wanted to get away from them, for I know'd very well if I staid there, I should get a bad name, as nobody could be respectable that would live there."