David (Davy) Crockett was a businessman, entrepreneur, pioneer, hunter, soldier, Indian fighter, justice of the peace, magistrate, state legislator (Tennessee), U.S. Congressman, friend of the poor (of which he was one), champion of liberty, martyr and, of course, king of the wild frontier.
Though short on formal education, Colonel Crockett was a master of common sense with an uncanny political astuteness and a well-honed sense of humor.
His initial loyalty to and later abhorrence of President Andrew Jackson is legendary. To Crockett, Jackson abandoned the common man and constitutional principles that once was so important to him and were always the guidance for “Davy.”
In a speech in Boston in May, 1834, Congressman David (Davy) Crockett of Tennessee said:
I hope to see our happy country restored to its former peace and happiness, and once more redeemed from tyranny and despotism, which, I fear, we are on the very brink of. We see the whole country in commotion: and for what? Because, gentlemen, the true friends of liberty see the laws and constitution blotted out from the heads and hearts of the people’s leaders: and their requests for relief are treated with scorn and contempt. It has been decided by a majority of Congress that [the president] shall be the Government, and that his will shall be the law of the land. He takes the responsibility, and vetoes any bill that does not meet his approbation. He takes the responsibility and seizes the treasury, and removes it from where the laws had placed it; and now, holding purse and sword, has bid defiance to the Congress and to the nation.
In speaking about Jackson, Crockett also said:
This thing of man-worship I am a stranger to; I don’t like it; it taints evry action of life; it is like a skunk getting into a house – long after he has cleared out, you smell him in every room and closet, from the cellar to the garret.
Though not as “refined” as most of his congressional colleagues, Crockett was, by no means, a rube or backwoods hick. Still, his critics – those trying to maintain an elitist status quo – regaled the media with tall (and false) tales of him as a buffoon and ignorant bumpkin. In a situation reminiscent of today’s liberals’/Democrats’ characterization of the Tea Party movement, Crockett responded: “I have enemies who would take much pleasure in magnifying the plain rusticity of my manners into the most unparalleled grossness and indelicacy.”
Davy Crockett’s wisdom in recognizing the heavy hand of the federal government and his courage in calling it out are not as legendary as his final hours on the walls of the Alamo, but they far more important. Sadly, the type of autocracy against which Crockett so valiantly fought has been retooled and re-engineered and now thrives in today’s America.
Crockett was a powerful figure in his day and there is much that can be learned by studying his simple and steadfast patriotism and focus on solid principles for human interaction.
“I leave this rule for others when I am dead,” wrote David Crockett in his autobiography A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee; “Be always sure you’re right, then go ahead.”
We could use a few Davy Crocketts these days.
For more on Davy Crockett, I recommend David Crockett In Congress: The Rise and Fall of the Poor Man’s Friend by James R. Boylston and Allen J. Wiener