I don’t know who your hero was growing up, but mine was Davy Crockett, the favorite son of my native Tennessee. There is no telling how many times I pretended to be the King of the Wild Frontier in the fields and woods near where I grew up. I had a coonskin cap. I made a corncob pipe. My brother and I watched Fess Parker as Davy killing bears and fighting it out at the Alamo like it was 1954.
A few weeks ago, I found a used copy A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett by Himself, written during his days as a Tennessee congressman, and finished it yesterday. It’s a brief, easy read, written in the homespun style of Huckleberry Finn. My favorite part was reading about life in untamed Tennessee, when there were apparently enough bears roaming around the western part of the state for Davy to bag 105 in a single year.
Another interesting angle was the political environment in which it was written – Crockett had recently broken from President Andrew Jackson (a slightly less lovable Tennesseean) over the infamous Indian Bill. Davy gets in several jibes at his former commander throughout the narrative, and even seems to entertain hopes of taking his seat as president one day. Perhaps a little far fetched for the bear-hunter from Rutherford, but listen to the closing lines of the book – maybe a lot of political bluster, but it probably would have won my vote back in 1834:
“After all this, the reader will perceive that I am now here in Congress, this 28th day of January, the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four; and that, what is more agreeable to my feelings as a freeman, I am at liberty to vote as my conscience and judgment dictates to be right, without yoke of any party on me, or the driver at my heels, with his whip in hand, commanding me to ge-wo-haw, just at his pleasure. Look at my arms, you will find no party hand-cuff on them! Look on my neck, you will not find there any collar, with the engraving “My Dog. – Andrew Jackson.” But you will find me standing up to my rack, as the people’s faithful representative, and the public’s most obedient, very humble, servant,