“Davy Crockett” (by John Gadsby Chapman)

Happy Birthday to “The King of the Wild Frontier” Davy Crockett, 17 August 1786 – 6 March 1836. Although Crockett was immortalised in movies such as the 1955 Disney production, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier, and commonly associated with coonskin hats, the real story of David (Davy) Crockett is far more interesting than anything Walt Disney could have dreamt up.

Born in Tennessee, Crockett’s father sold him into indentured servitude at the tender age of 12 (although whether or not Crockett counted as tender is a question for another post). An experienced bear hunter, as an adult Crockett once claimed to have shot and killed 105 bears in just one season.

Poster for the 1960 movie
Poster for the 1960 movie “The Alamo”, staring John Wayne as Davy Crockett.

Crockett joined the military as a young man and had a successful, if bloody, military career, which predominantly involved fighting (and slaughtering) Native Americans.

In addition to this life as a frontiersman, Crockett was a politician. After a successful campaign for a seat in the Tennessee General Assembly in 1823, Crockett set his sights on Congress. He was elected as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1827-31 and 1833-35. During his time in Congress he was one of the notable opponents to the 1830 Indian Removal Act (click here to see President Andrew Jackson’s message to Congress “On Indian Removal”).

True to his roots, while in Congress he tried to pass a bill to abolish West Point Military Academy as he felt it was unfair to families with less money (source).

“Those who are educated there, secure their instruction at the public expense and are generally the sons of the rich and influential who are able to educate their own children–while the sons of the poor for want of active friends are often neglected–or if educated even at the expense of their parents or by the liberality of their friends, are superseded in the service by Cadets educated at the West Point academy.”

After losing the 1835 election, Crockett moved to Texas and became a private soldier in the Texas rebel army. He died in the Battle of the Alamo on 6 March 1836.