How are we to judge our nation’s hero’s actions from the past? There are two choices to decide how we see a person, by the standards of the past or of the present. One of our nations important figures of the past David Crockett falls under this category. He lived a life of legend and myth. His story was revived and celebrated in the 1950’s, but can he be seen as an American hero now? David Crockett was born on August 17, 1786 in Green County, East Tennessee. His parents were John and Rebecca Crockett. He was raised in a large family being the fifth of nine children. “The extreme indigence of his father rendered him unable to educate his children, and at a very early age David was put to work (Sketches and eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, of West... Crockett, Davy, 1786-1836)”. During these times, David’s father would hire him out where he was taught to shoot a rifle, do odd jobs and herd cattle at a young age. Once he returned home he would go on to attending school for just six months (source 4). David’s various skills that he learned during his youth in the Tennessee frontier would later help him become a popular figure during his time.
David Crockett’s military career began in 1813 when he enlisted as “scout in the militia under Major John Gibson (biography)”. He joined the cause for revenge of the Creek Nation’s attack on Fort Mims, Alabama. The War of 1812 was being fought at the same time as the Creek War. David Crockett’s main duties of the Creek War were to forcibly remove Indians from the Florida swamps. General Andrew Jackson asked for support from the Tennessee militia to assist with removing the British forces from Spanish Florida. In 1814, the Treaty of Fort Jackson was created which ended the Creek War with the Creeks surrender of twenty-one million acres of territory for the American government. After his duties were complete in both the War of 1812 and the Creek War, Crockett was discharged as a fourth sergeant from the military in 1815. These events in Crockett’s military career would give him an everlasting impression on the issues of Native Americans and Andrew Jackson.
Crockett continued on with his political and military career. In 1815, he was elected as lieutenant in the thirty-second militia regiment of Franklin County. He became a justice of the peace in 1817. In 1818, he was elected colonel of the fifty-seventh militia regiment and also the town commissioner of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee (TSHA). In 1821, he resigned as Commissioner of Lawrenceburg to run for the House of Representatives. He won the race and was elected as the representative of Lawrence and Hickman counties in Tennessee. Around this time in his career he was very interested in the policies of public land of the wild western Tennessee. He introduced bills with the main focus of helping landowners occupying the west (The man and the legend). His stance on land in the west would be one of his main platforms throughout the rest of his life as a civil servant. In 1825, he lost his first running for Congress. In 1826, David Crockett returned to his private business. In 1827, David Crockett won an election to the United States House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 1829. At this time, he openly didn’t agree with President Andrew Jackson and the Tennessee delegation on many topics. These topics were specifically land reform and the Indian removal bill. At this point, David had achieved “notoriety with authorship of several works: “Exploits in Texas”, “Tour Down East”, “ A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee.”, “Sketches and Eccentricities”, and “Song Book” (Goodspeeds)”. In 1834, Crockett started campaigning to run against President Andrew Jackson as an Anti-Jacksonian candidate for the presidency with the support of the Whig Party backing him (source 11). Eventually as the presidential vote came closer Crockett lost his bid for the presidency and his popularity soon started to plummet.
At this point, Crockett had decided to leave Tennessee and go explore Texas. Disappointed with the results of his political standing David is quoted with saying “ You can all go to Hell and I’m going to Texas. (source 12)” Crockett’s intentions were to move his family to Texas if he felt Texas would be a place where he could reinvent himself. Crockett did not have any intentions on joining the fight for Texas independence. In 1835, Crockett traveled to Texas to scout land for his family back in Tennessee. Crockett arrived in San Antonio in February 1836. During the Texas Revolution at the Alamo, “Crockett chose to join Colonel William B. Travis, who had deliberately disregarded Sam Houston’s orders to withdraw from the Alamo, rather than support Houston, a Jackson sympathizer”(TSHA). The Texas Revolution at the Alamo at this time was in the early stages of the Texas war for independence from Mexico. David Crockett died fighting at the Alamo on March 6, 1836 less than 1 month after arriving in San Antonio (source 6). David Crockett was a celebrity in his time. When we hear about him in modern times we instantly envision a man of myth wearing a raccoon cap. Yet, if you look at his life in the past’s standards of living he was a man just living with the social attitudes of the people of the time. But the truth is that in today's standards he was someone that shouldn't be celebrated but remembered for his eventful life.
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