East Tennessee History: Davy Crockett Part 2
By 1813 Davy Crockett had made a name for himself as a frontiersman, fighter and storyteller. He had fought against the Indians and the British with Andrew Jackson and had watched Jackson’s rise to the presidency. His life, however, was not filled with complete success.
First, he suffered the tragedy of watching three wives die, leaving him with children to raise.
Second, he was a failure at several businesses throughout his life, but he always seemed to bounce back. Eventually, he found a career in politics.
Crockett had natural attributes that would help him find success in politics. First, he was a natural public speaker. He could weave stories and entertain audiences for hours and made an impression on his audience, whether it was a group of politicians or backwoodsmen.
Second, he was a man of the people. The working men of Tennessee could relate to this yarn-spun, self-made man who had lost crops because of the weather, knew what it was like to pull yourself up by your boot straps and who had calloused hands but a good heart. He dressed like a Tennessean, talked like a Tennessean and told a good story like any frontiersman.
He was elected to be a Justice of the Peace in 1817 in Lawrence County and then won a seat in the Tennessee General Assembly representing Lawrence and Hickman counties. There he fought for cheaper taxes and more land rights for poor settlers.
After moving to Carroll County, he was elected to the General Assembly in 1823. He then ran for Congress in 1827 and 1829 and won a seat in the House of Representatives. He lost his seat in Congress in 1830, won again in 1933 and lost his final bid in 1834.
When he lost his bid to Congress, he blamed this loss on President Andrew Jackson. Jackson was anti-Indian to the point he would eventually move the Five Civilized Tribes, the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek and Cherokee, to Oklahoma Territory, violating a Supreme Court order.
Crockett was more pro-Indian and fought to leave the tribes east of the Mississippi River and give them their own land grant in the territory.
President Andrew Jackson took this personal and helped Crockett’s opponent in the Congressional election, guaranteeing Crockett would lose his seat in Congress.
Disheartened and rejected by most of his Congressional District, Crockett made up his mind to move to Texas. It is said that he told the people in his district after his final defeat in Congress, “I told the people of my district that I would serve them faithfully, as I have done; but if not, they might go to ______, and I will go to Texas.”
So, Crockett left Tennessee to seek his fortune and political favor in the Texas Territory. This Tennessee legend was about to begin the final act of his life on the plains of Texas. What he did not know was that this decision would change Texas, America and his own life and take a man of the people and make him a true legend.
We will look at this man in the next East Tennessee History column, Davy Crockett Part 3.