Who Was Davy Crockett?

Davy Crockett is a legendary frontiersman and politician commonly referred to as “King of the Wild Frontier”. He is known for his bold attitude in pushing for fair policies on land reform and Indian removal and for his courage in fighting for the independence of Texas. From his simple life in the backwoods – signified by his coonskin cap – he became active in war and politics which changed the course of his life. As a strong believer in justice, Crockett spent his days defending the Alamo border to secure the Texan independence.

Read this article to learn about the life of Davy Crockett from his enlistment in the military, to his stint as a politician, and to his demise during the Texas Revolution.

Early Escapades

David “Davy” Crockett was born on August 17, 1786 in East Tennessee, U.S.A. He is a son of John Crockett and Rebecca (Hawkins) Crockett.

At the age of 12, young Davy was indentured by his father to a cattle driver named Jacob Siler to transport a herd of cattle to Rockbridge County, Virginia. After the job was done, Siler refused to release Davey, forcing him to escape back to his family. He braved a two-hour walk on a cold, snowy evening to reach his home.

Davy’s father was infuriated when he got home, so Davy ran away once again as a “strategic withdrawal”. For two and a half years, he worked for others as wagoner and day-laborer so he could come home and pay off his father’s financial debts amounting to seventy-two dollars.

In 1802, Davey went home to his family again but he has grown so much that his family barely recognized him. He also resumed his schooling for six months.

Shots at Marriages

In 1805, Crockett proposed to marry Margaret Elder of Dandrige, Tennessee but she backed out before signing the marriage contract and married another man instead. After Crockett recovered from this heart-breaking experience, Crockett courted and married Mary (Polly) Finley in 1806. They had two sons, John Wesley and William. In 1811, Crockett and his family moved from East Tennessee to the Mulberry Fork of Elk River in Lincoln County, Tennessee. After two years, they moved once again to the Rattlesnake Spring branch of Bean’s Creek in Franklin County, Tennessee in a homestead he named Kentuck.

During Crockett’s stint as a militia man, Polly died giving birth to their third child. In 1815, he married a widow with two children and settled in Lawrence County, Tennessee.

Rise to Militia Ranks

Moving from one place to another brought Crockett closer to the war that would change his life. In 1813, Crockett enlisted in the military as a scout to take revenge on the Indian forces that attacked Fort Mimms in Alabama. Under Andrew Jackson, he participated in a vengeful massacre on the Indian town Tallussahatchee.

He went home when his enlistment for the Creek War ended but re-enlisted the following year as a third sergeant. He was discharged in 1815 but he came home to a dead wife after Polly died after giving birth to their daughter Margaret.

Crockett immediately returned to military service as a lieutenant and re-married to Elizabeth Patton, a widow who had two children. During this time, he almost died due to malaria and was even reported dead. To his family’s shock, Crockett returned home alive.

By 1816, the Crocketts decided to settle in Lawrence County, Tennessee where Davey served as a justice of the peace for two years. He became the town commissioner of Lawrenceburg and resumed his military career as a coronel.

Service to Public

Crockett entered politics using his background as a backwoods person to his advantage as well as his great oratorical skills. In 1821, he resigned as town commissioner and run for a legislative seat as the representative of Lawrence and Hickman counties. 

Despite attempts of his opponents to belittle Crocket by calling him “gentleman from the cane”, he won the election by earning the sentiment of the public with good speaking skills. He focused on public land policy regarding the West during his stint as a legislator.

Crockett won a second term in the state legislature in 1823 and vied for a seat in the United States House of Representatives in 1825. He achieved national prominence with his reputation as a hunter and yard-spinner, but was defeated in the election.

Finally in 1827, Crockett won a seat in the U.S. Congress and regained this position in the election that followed. As a lawmaker, Crockett continued his fight for fair land policy and just treatment of the Indians even to the extent of going against his former military superior Andrew Jackson who was the U.S. President during that time. This had a huge impact on Crockett’s political career as he found it hard to return to Congress in the succeeding elections, losing in 1831, 1833, and 1835.

Death and Legacy

Disappointed with the course of national politics, Crockett moved with his family to Texas where a revolution was on-going. At first, he did not intend to re-enlist in the militia to fight for the independence of Texas, but in 1836, he finally decided to make the future of an independent Texas as his own so he joined the war.

On March 6, 1836, Crockett died in the Alamo where their garrison was attacked by the Mexicans. Accounts of his death remained varied for years until the diary of Lt. José Enrique de la Peña was published in 1975 revealing that Crockett was one of the six captives who were executed by the Mexicans after the battle of the Alamo.

Crockett’s life was an example of bravery and love for the land. His death in the hands of Mexicans did not sully nor bury his reputation. In fact, until today the Americans remember the heroism of a legendary frontiersman and politician from the backwoods named Davy Crockett and even his trademark coonskin cap became popular to wear after he was memorialized in the movies.